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?"