Open Letter Against Expodefensa
A war fair when we want peace: No to Expodefensa
This letter was prepared by the Collective Action of Conscientious Objectors (ACOOC), La Morada cultural house, La Tulpa antimilitarist collective, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedoms (WILPF – LIMPAL Colombia), Fuerza Común, the Campaign for the Boicot, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in Colombia (BDS Colombia), Justapaz, War Resisters International (IRG) as well as the Latin American and Caribbean Antimilitarist Network (RAMALC).
General, Your Tank is a Powerful Vehicle
It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.
General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.
General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.
A fair of “weapons, war and death” will take place from December 2 to 4 in the city of Bogota (Colombia) in the facilities of Corferias. Although it is clear to the general public that the issue of war is the purpose of this meeting, the organizers prefer to say that it is a “Security and Defense” fair, two misleading words under which they seek to hide the war economy that for some decades has taken the direction of the free market in the world. Of course, a country like Colombia -which is much more familiar with violence than with peace- cannot be the exception. In fact, this fair has been taking place since 2009 in Colombia, accounting for at least seven of them, with organizers taking pride in the constant growth that has had. Taking this into account, we should ask ourselves: if Colombia is a country that is entering an end of the war context ever since the signing of the peace agreement with the FARC, should we keep on hosting an arms fair? Is that the message the government wants to give after the treaty?
Originally, this event was conceived by the Colombian Ministry of Defense for the purpose of expanding the local military industry market. Currently, it is organized by the Corporation of High Technology for the Defense (CODALTEC) in addition to some important state companies: COTECMAR (Marine and Fluvial Naval Industry) CIAC (Aeronautical Industry) and INDUMIL (weapons, explosives and ammunition). All companies that were created during the armed conflict and strengthened since 2000, to the point of becoming the official suppliers of the State; a juicy boost that has allowed them to cover a large part of country’s war demand and expand their market throughout the Latin American continent (mainly in the centre and south). Thus, one of the objectives of this fair has been to catapult Colombian companies as producers and exporters of war material to the rest of the world.
But, that has not been the only objective; companies around the world have seen this fair as one of the events in Latin America more favorable for promoting and spreading their goods and services with the purpose of war. On this occasion, countries historically recognized as leading producers of weapons, will have their own pavillons in Corferias to present their military industry. Countries such as France, United States, United Kingdom and Spain (guest of honour). This is explained on the historical role of Colombia as the Israel of Latin America, with many of their military leadership trained at the School of the Americas, participating in joint operations with the region’s police and taking a leading role in the pedagogy of cruelty that the Global North is applying to our territories.
Among the exhibitors stand out foreign companies born as a result of a systematic violation of human rights of historically oppressed peoples. A clear example of this this year will be the technologies and instruments of death developed by estates as though Israel and Turkey, so as to perpetuate their occupation of palestine and kurd territories. Both countries will present their public and private companies, enriched at the expense of the suffering of peoples under occupation; a perverse laboratory to test and improve terror instruments that are used in Colombia as well.
The fact that these companies are exhibiting and selling war technology, whether land, marine or air, it already poses quite an issue, but what is more disturbing is that many of the commercialized products are directed to the so-called “security” sector; this is nothing more than the privatization of militarism made accessible to any company or person who has the means to buy it. Armored vehicles for the Sinaloa cartel? Assault rifles for the private escort of some polemic businessmen? Drones with facial recognition for the Águilas Negras? Which are the possible implications for our country of representatives of armed groups or criminal gangs can get hold of new warfare items?
The commercialization of technology for cyber espionage, the interception of communications and, in general, devices that affect people’s right of free speech and communication, is particularly alarming. Unfortunately, fairs like this one, help the normalization of the legitimate use of this kind of instruments, which throughout the Americas have been used so as to persecute journalists, human rights advocators and political opponents of the parties in power; in our country it is famous the illegal interceptions, but it is not an isolated case: Panama, Mexico, Argentina and other countries in the continent have been victims of this persecution with the use of these technologies of “Security”.
The Colombian government should also consider which is the international image that is projecting when hosting such an arms fair exactly in the midst of the strong questioning by the United Nations, some embassies, media, congressmen and congresswomen, different social sectors, in regard to the impacts of militarizing several regions as well as authorizing operatives such as the recent Caquetá bombing, where 18 minors were murdered.
For these reasons, the Collective Action of Conscientious Objectors (ACOOC), La Morada cultural house, La Tulpa antimilitarist collective, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedoms (WILPF – LIMPAL Colombia), Fuerza Común, the Campaign for the Boicot, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in Colombia (BDS Colombia), Justapaz, War Resisters International (IRG) as well as the Latin American and Caribbean Antimilitarist Network (RAMALC), we want to invite you to protest against this war fair the coming 4rth of December during the afternoon, at Corferias main entrance.
Those of us longing for times of peace cannot let a war fair go unnoticed.
Download this letter in Spanish.