From the February 2013 PNL #821
Editors’ note: The PNL is pleased to introduce this new column by Seth Rutledge. (The first edition appeared in last month’s issue.) Seth will compile headlines of US-led or US-backed military activity around the world and put them in context when necessary. It’s not always easy to see how Washington’s influence makes its way into various global affairs. Our hope is that this column will shed light on the reach of the US military-industrial complex and draw attention to the many struggles worldwide that are too often overlooked.
Mexico: On December 21 tens of thousands of Zapatistas peacefully occupied five municipalities in Chiapas and spoke out against the police and paramilitary violence against their co,mmunities. On December 23, the Triqui people were brutally evicted from their protest camp in Oaxaca City where they seek the right to return to their lands. The Triqui were driven off their land by paramilitary groups funded by the Mexican government and seeking to clear the way for international mining companies. Many indigenous groups in Mexico practice self-rule and deny the legitimacy of the Mexican government’s fraudulent elections. The “war on drugs” has been used as a pretext to crush these movements through widespread violations of human rights including killings, tortures and disappearances.  The conflict has resulted in 70,000 deaths, more than 20,000 disappearances, and more than a quarter million displacements over the past five years. The US has supplied the Mexican government with over $1.7 billion in military aid since 2008.
Colombia: New reports reveal displacement of indigenous people increased by 83% in 2012 with 5.4 million people displaced since 1985.  The increase is attributed to the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, passed in 2011, which allows for the sale of communal landholdings. The US has provided $7.1 billion in military aid to Colombia since 1996. The reports reveal the Colombian military tortured, raped and killed thousands of civilians, then dressed them as militants to receive more military aid from the US mostly between 2004-2008. 
Syria: Hundreds of demonstrations have called for the world to protect the 612,847 refugees in danger of freezing this winter. US backed Saudi Arabia has given $100 million to the National Coalition, the US backed opposition government created to distribute funds to militant groups and who envision an Islamic State in Syria. The US has sanctioned Al-Nursa, an Al-Qaeda affiliate involved in key victories against the Syrian government, despite the objection of the National Coalition. The UN warns of the sectarian nature of the conflict and the Local Coordinating Committees have called for the Free Syrian Army to refrain from revenge killings of whole communities.
Mali: The French military, with US aid, deployed troops and launched air strikes against Al-Qaeda groups in N. Mali. In 2012 thousands of Tuareg entered Mali fleeing ethnic cleansing in Libya after the fall of the Giddafi, and attempted to establish an autonomous nation. Al Qaeda groups, strengthened by US support in their fight against Giddafi and now in control of areas of Libya,   then supplanted the Tuareg. After the rebellion in the north, the government of Mali in the south was overthrown by a military coup lead by US trained Captain Amadou Masogo. Mali has large reserves of gold, uranium, oil and other natural resources.