In 1984, with Vice-President George Bush heading the NNBIS, US officials ignored repeated chances to apprehend Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa- kingpins of the Medellin Cartel.
The two were busy shipping cocaine through CIA agent John Hull’s Costa Rican ranch. They fled Colombia after ordering the assassination of Colombian Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla and found refuge in Noriega’s Panama, where that same year Nicaraguan contra godfather and Mossadegh coup master Vernon Walters was meeting secretly with Colombian President Julio Turbay to launch a top-secret US military base on the Colombian island of San Andres, which quickly became a major smuggling route for Colombian cartel cocaine.
With the passage of NAFTA, Mexico became the main transshipment point for Salinas-greased cocaine entering the US from Colombia. The first stage of the new Free Trade Agreement of the America’s is being carried out under the name Plan Colombia. The Plan includes a large energy component, assisting Big Oil in the development of their extensive oil and petrochemical ventures in Colombia, where they hold a monopoly over the nation’s energy resources. In the 1980’s Shell bought the Colombian operations of Occidental Petroleum and Tenneco. Exxon Mobil owns large coal mines in the country. BP Amoco recently discovered huge oilfields in Colombia. 
Plan Columbia also includes a military component, which flies under the banner of drug eradication, but which is actually a counterinsurgency campaign aimed at two powerful leftist guerrilla armies who have been fighting the Colombian narco-oligarchy for over 40 years. The Colombian left began to go underground after the 1948 assassination of popular leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan at the Inter-American Conference in Bogota.
They formed two guerrilla armies- FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and ELN (National Liberation Army). Both have historically focused their attacks on Big Oil installations. Occidental pipelines were ruptured, Chevron Texaco executives kidnapped and BP Amoco installations destroyed. FARC, under the leadership of Manuel Marulanda, controls a huge chunk of territory in southwest Colombia near Popayan.
Eighty-percent of the $1.3 billion Plan Colombia package goes towards the purchase of arms and the hiring of military advisers. More than 400 US advisers now train 12,500 Colombian Special Forces at 34 US military bases in Colombia. High-tech espionage and radar devices have been sent to Colombia, along with 80 Huey and Blackhawk helicopter gunships. The plan allows for chemical warfare against Colombian peasant farmers via widespread aerial spraying of glycerin-phosphate on coca crops.
The spraying kills the livestock of poor peasant farmers, many of whom now suffer from previously unknown illnesses.  While the US paints the guerrillas as narcotraffickers, the reality is that Colombia’s oligarchy and military are firmly in the driver’s seat of the country’s cocaine business. US multinationals, international banks and the CIA are also involved.
Most Colombian presidents have been paid off by the drug cartels. Those who have not been bought don’t stay in office for long. That was the fate of President Verhilio Barco, who in the early 1990’s, along with his Peruvian and Bolivian counterparts, had the audacity to demand that President Bush stop Exxon, Chevron and RD/Shell from sending acetone and ethyl-ether to South America, since these chemicals are required in the production of cocaine.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) urged Bush to do the same. Bush refused, the Barco Presidency was short-lived and a more pliable Colombian leader emerged. In 1994 new President Ernesto Samper accepted $6 million from the Cali Cartel to run his campaign. His campaign manager was Colonel Fernando Botero-Zea, who later became Samper’s Defense Secretary.
Botero-Zea is the CIA’s main contact to the Colombian Armed Forces. He received Cali Cartel donations and deposited them into a Barclay’s Bank account in Bogota. Botero-Zea also had an account with Barclay’s New York, which the US DEA ordered investigated. But the colonel has all the right connections. His attorney was Stuart Abrams, who helped derail any meaningful investigation of Iran/Contra. 
Samper’s good friend Jaime Michelson Uribe founded the Grancolombia business consortium, a major conduit for cocaine traffic. In 1997 the US de-certified Colombia as a reliable partner in the drug war, while President Clinton threatened to ban Samper from the US. Samper answered by saying he would no longer cooperate with the US on the drug issue. He also threatened to release a list of US multinationals who were involved in the Colombian cocaine business.  Clinton quickly backed down. Samper never mentioned the list again.
The US mega-banks must have been relieved. When Chase Manhattan executive John Marcilla brought proof of drug money laundering by Chase Colombian subsidiary Banco de Comercio to his New York bosses he was fired. David Edwards got the same response when he brought up the topic with his Citibank higher-ups. The Four Horsemen showed gratitude for Samper’s silence by pumping record investment into Colombia and urged Clinton not to impose sanctions on the country. Chevron Texaco, BP Amoco, the Kuwaiti-owned Occidental, Bechtel and Lawrence Eagleburger’s Halliburton baby Dresser Industries led the charge in the Colombian resource grab. 
In 1998, while Clinton was busy commending Samper’s successor Andres Pastrana for his drug war efforts, the head of Colombia’s Air Force was forced to resign after an Air Force jet he was flying on was found carrying 600 kilos of cocaine when it landed at Ft. Lauderdale in Governor Jeb Bush’s state of Florida. The general received no prison term or fine from either the Colombian or US government. 
US drug war allies in neighboring pre-Chavez Venezuela were equally corruptible. In 1996 a Miami grand jury indicted the former head of a CIA-sponsored anti-drug unit in that country for smuggling twenty-two tons of cocaine into the US. General Ramon Guillen led a Venezuela National Guard unit in Caracas which the CIA funded. US law enforcement officials said the CIA approved Guillen’s shipments.
The CIA Chief of Station in Venezuela was forced to resign when Guillen got caught. DEA Station Chief in Caracas Annabelle Grimm told 60 Minutes that she turned down a CIA request to make uncontrolled cocaine deliveries to Miami, under the guise of a sting operation against Medellin Cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar. When Grimm refused, the CIA shipped the coke anyway. 
Colombia’s military is knee-deep in the cocaine business, as are the country’s paramilitaries, which wealthy Colombian oligarchs and drug kingpins train to attack the Colombian left. The right-wing paramilitaries carry out their state-sanctioned terrorism under the banner of the United Self-Defense of Columbia. They are, in fact, death squads whose record of slaughtering innocent civilians, union members and human rights workers is among the world’s worst.
The biggest Colombian drug lords were Pablo Escobar, Jorge and Fabio Ochoa, Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, Fidel Castano, Carlos Lehder and Victor Carranza, who collectively ran the Medellin and Cali Cartels- main sponsors of Colombia’s paramilitaries.
The goons are trained by British and Israeli mercenaries and often torture peasants on cartel-owned haciendas.  Carlos Lehder is a self-proclaimed Nazi who formed the notorious MAS (Death to Kidnappers), the most brutal of the death squads. Lehder was a business associate of Robert Vesco. Fidel Castano is principal paramilitary funder in Cordoba. Castano’s hacienda served as training camp for terrorists who carried out the cleansing of the Uraba Region for Pablo Escobar and Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, a campaign of terror against the homeless and shanty dwellers. A similar campaign was carried out in Cali by paramilitary Cali Linda (Beautiful Cali).
The cocaine paramilitaries work directly with Colombian police and military units. Paramilitaries linked to the drug oligarchs carried out massacres in both Trujillo and Cali. In both incidents local police and military units, as well as the elite Army Palace Battalion of Buga, were involved in the atrocities. In Putamayo the Anti-Narcotics Police control and protect the paramilitaries, who have carried out numerous massacres. In 1995 the Colombian government and human rights groups issued a joint report citing Army Colonel Antonio Uruena as leader of a paramilitary that killed more than 100 civilians in drug-related incidents from 1988-1991. 
Confessions by former Army Major Oscar Echandia- Military Mayor of Puerto Boyaca in the early 1980’s- shed light on the cozy relationship between the cocaine cartels, the Colombian military and Big Oil. Echandia described how paramilitaries were ordered to kill supporters of the centrist Liberal Party. He said the alliance between paramilitaries and drug traffickers was formed in 1983-1984, citing the onset of close relations between Rodriguez Gacha and Colonel Plazas Vega- Commander of the School of the Cavalry of the Army.
This was the same time Vernon Walters was setting up the San Andres deal. Echandia said British and Israeli mercenaries began showing up in Puerto Boyaca in 1989 accompanied by Colombian F-2 intelligence agents and Army personnel. He said financial support for training and maintenance of the paramilitaries came from wealthy ranchers and Big Oil. 
Under Plan Colombia the US arms spigot will open wide in supplying the crooked Colombian military. In January 2002, President Andres Pastrana, perhaps feeling that implementation of Plan Colombia would give his troops a long-awaited military advantage over FARQ and ELN rebels, who have embarrassed the Colombian military on numerous occasions, announced a 48-hour deadline for FARQ to evacuate its southwest Colombia stronghold.
FARQ simply repositioned itself, moving more of its operations into Colombia’s major cities. FARQ kidnapped a right-wing Colombian Congressmen and attempted to assassinate Presidential candidate Uribe, who promised to wipe out the rebels if elected. On August 7, 2002, as the tough-talking Uribe was sworn in at a high-security Bogota ceremony, mortar attacks killed 14 people. With the rebels going on offense and Plan Colombia kicking into high gear, all-out war in Colombia seems inevitable. Adding fuel to the fire, in 2007 the Colombian media uncovered evidence linking the Uribe government to the paramilitaries in a scandal known as Paragate.
Dean Henderson is the author of five books: Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com