US Firms Fund Colombian Terror Groups
Multinationals' payoffs to paramilitaries run afoul of antiterror laws
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Jul 23, 2007 1:30 PM CDT
Former United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia's, AUC, paramilitary commander Diego Fernando Murillo, also known as "Don Berna", center, is escorted by guards into a court hearing in Medellin, Colombia,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Business as usual for US multinationals in Colombia involves paying off paramilitaries and guerrillas, a practice that offers "insurance" against violence—and violates US law. The LA Times looks at the tension between protecting economic investments and essentially if not directly foiling counterterrorism efforts, a conflict that has the attention of US lawmakers who see Colombia as a model.

The payoffs violate not only antiterror but also "drug kingpin" laws; Colombian paramilitaries are believed to control most of the cocaine and about half the heroin supplied to the US. The Justice Department has ignored letters from lawmakers, but their interest isn't waning: "Do our economic interests trump the war on terror?" asks a Massachusetts Congressman. "Are we making trade-offs?"