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By Alberto Pinzón Sánchez
State Terrorism made an early metastasis throughout Latin America: from Fort Bragg, it passed to the School of the Americas in Panama and by the late 1960s it was already widespread as a common practice throughout the Continent.
State Terrorism made an early metastasis throughout Latin America: from Fort Bragg, it passed to the School of the Americas in Panama and by the late 1960s it was already widespread as a common practice throughout the Continent. In Colombia, Oligarchical Militarism was one of its most enthusiastic promoters and adopters, even reaching the sophistication of replacing the "electric prod" recommended by French-American experts; by the bites of trained horses, in the Usaquén stables, against the "internal enemies" of the bipartisan regime of the Turbay-Camacho Leyva binomial (remember?), Pinzón Sánchez writes.
On April 23, 1954, Jhon Foster Dulles, American Secretary of State who was in Paris in order to attend the Geneva conference called to try to resolve the war in Indochina; after hearing the plight of the defenders of the besieged military base of Dien Bien Phu, made by the French Foreign Minister, Georges Bidault, and reading the telegram sent by General Henry Navarre, chief of the French forces in Indochina , calling for the immediate launch of "Operation Vulture", organized the previous month, jointly by the chiefs of the American and French staff, to send 60 B-29 bombers and 200 American fighters against the Vietnamese patriots, commanded by the legendary General Giap who besieged Dien Bien Phu; asks Minister Bidault sharply:
- "What if we give them two atomic bombs?" -
In his own words, after a few stunned seconds, Bidault declined the offer, because he thought that if the bombs were used near Dien Bien Phu, both the attackers and the defenders would be eliminated. And if they were used on the supply routes of the communist guerrillas, that is to say near China, they could run the risk of a world conflagration. The "vulture" operation was suspended but the US military political support to the French was not.
A year earlier, General Henri Navarre had taken command of the French colonial forces in Vietnam, and was advancing a plan to attract General Giap's guerrillas into an open battle, where, he thought that the immense French and American firepower should annihilate the Vietnamese patriots. He had launched on Dien Bien Phu, a town located in a small valley, 300 kilometers west of Hanoi, where the French had set up a huge defensive base; an airborne operation of 15,000 elite paratroopers (green berets), guns, light tanks and aircraft loaded with NAPALM bombs.
But General Giap's guerrilla army had experienced great advances in experience, recruitment, training, provisioning, and above all in political consciousness, which ended up surprising the French. The Vietnamese, masters in the art of camouflage and undercutting, filled the hills overlooking the French defenses in the east of the entrenched camp with tunnels and hidden trenches, and installed their "rudimentary" 200 guns in such a way that only the mouth protruded from the loopholes.
In March they began a persistent bombardment that puzzled the French colonialists and ended up destroying their airstrip in the center of Dien Bien Phu. During 56 days the siege lasted with light artillery and in the midst of torrential monsoon rains that turned the countryside into a quagmire; General Giap alternately launched the assault on the base, his guerrilla troops, which at that time numbered 25,000 men, from secret trenches and tunnels, dug under intense French bombardment, from the limits of the jungle, to the fortifications. After falling one after another under the massive assaults, the last bastions and pockets of resistance, ended up being dominated on May 7, 1954, today 51 years ago.
On the afternoon of May 7, a last attack allowed the Vietnamese patriots to capture the entire staff of the garrison, and with General de Castries, the garrison surrendered by raising the white flag. At night the garrison of the southern sector was taken prisoner. No man could escape.
The French had lost their best units at Dien Bien Phu: a total of 16,200 men, including a general, 16 colonels, 1,749 officers and non-commissioned officers. During the entire winter campaign -spring 1953-1954 the battle was fierce on all fronts. In particular on the Tay Nguyen highlands, Vietnamese forces had entirely destroyed Mobile Group 100 from Korea. The guerrillas in the Mekong and Red River deltas and in Binh-Tri-Thien had taken on a scale similar to regular operations.
The losses of the French expeditionary corps and the puppet forces during this campaign were considerable: 12,000 men, 117 aircraft. The victory of Dien Bien Phu and the successes of the winter-spring campaign of 1953-1954 forced the French government to agree to peace. On May 8, 1954, 24 hours after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the Geneva Conference on Indochina opened. On the night of July 20-21, the Accords were signed ending the war in northern Vietnam.
The day after the spectacular victory, the brilliant General Giap received a congratulatory telegram from Ho Chi Minh, saying: "It is indeed a great victory, but it is only the beginning." Indeed, after the French withdrawal, the intervention of North American advisers ("special war" agents) in Vietnam, which had begun just after Korea, began an interventionist escalation, culminating in 1965 with the total commitment of the US military forces in Indochina. and the landing, in South Vietnam alone, of an expeditionary force of 550,000 men equipped with all the means of war available and known to Humanity. The gigantic B-52 bombers launched concentrated attacks on North Vietnam, dropping more bombs than any that had been dropped by both sides during World War II.
However, the same victor of Dien Bien Phu, the legendary General Giap, who had defeated the French, will also be 21 years later; the architect of the first military defeat of the United States in history: May 1, 1975 in the battle and taking of Saigon.
However, the French military with this hard experience, also drew their own lessons, which they called "THE MODERN WAR WITHOUT RULES", fortunately reflected for posterity in several texts: General Charles Lecheroy's, the famous general Paul Aussaresses, that of Colonel Marcel Bigeard, or that of Colonel Roger Tinquier, among the best known: Dirty War, which a few months later, already legally authorized, by the "Socialist" government of the fourth French Republic of Guy Mollet, Francois Mitterand as ministry of the Interior, and Jacques Chabas-Delmas as defense minister; 40,000 French soldiers will be fully developed in another colonial war against the Algerian National Liberation Front (FNL).
And whose maximum expression was the so-called battle of Algiers in 1957, where 3,024 Algerian patriotic prisoners were "disappeared", so realistically presented in the emblematic Pontecorvo film: Torture no longer as a source of information used by the Nazis, but as "combat weapon" and nucleus of state terrorism IMPUNE.
The dirty war possibly made the revolutionary activity diminish, but it did not manage to break the patriotic and anti-colonialist morality of the Algerians, which added to the wear and tear of the war, to the manifestations of repudiation not only due to state terrorism, but also to the scandal over the Franco-British expedition to the Suez Canal in 1956; They made possible the access to power of General Charles De Gaulle, who assumed a position not expected by the military and finally recognized the independence of Algeria.
Very well known is the anecdote in which the French commander of Algiers, General Paul Aussaresses, also tells General De Gaulle: "You have to put your hand in the shit, in order not to be defeated." To which the President, also a former general, replied:
- "On the contrary; we have to get it out of there and wash it as soon as possible" -
The great English historian Eric Hobsbawm, in his book The History of the Twentieth Century, Critical editorial p. 224 notes it like this: "The war in Algeria was a bloody conflict that contributed to institutionalize torture in the Army, Police and Security Forces of a country that declared itself civilized. It popularized the use of torture by means of electric shocks that were applied to different areas of the body such as the tongue, nipples, genitals, and caused the fall of the fourth republic (1958) and almost the fifth (1961), before Algeria achieved independence, which General de Gaulle had long ago considered inevitable. "
The washing of hands did not mean the abandonment of the acquired technology: Charles De Gaulle's own former Defense Minister between 1959 and 1970, Pierre Messmer, a little later had to admit "having sent several veterans of the conflict in Algeria, especially the expert General Aussaresses, as military attaché in the French embassy of the United States, so that they instructed in the academy of Fort Bragg ", officers of the North American army in these practices, which were immediately applied in the Vietnam War in the so-called Phoenix Plan .
Which meant the murder of 20,000 Vietnamese civilians between 1965 and 1975 accused of being communists. Likewise, US General John Jons and Colonel Carl Bernard, two former "disciples" of General Paul Aussaresses, at Fort Bragg, later corroborated everything. These officers, who currently express their rejection of torture, have even gone so far as to detail how they were trained in these methodologies, and to explain how many of the American officers who passed by implemented what they learned, especially in the Vietnam War as part of the aforementioned Phoenix Plan.
But the general of Algiers, Paúl Aussaresses, continued to render his services to the French government and in 1973, as a military attaché to the embassy of his country, before the dictatorship that ruled Brazil, he trained several Argentine officers at the Manaus military base. and especially Chileans sent by the head of the Chilean DINA and right hand of Pinochet Manuel Contreras, who has just recognized that more than 500 prisoners of the Popular Unity of Chile disappeared. (03, September 2003. Newspaper Page 12. Argentina)
State Terrorism made early metastasis throughout Latin America: from Fort Bragg, it passed to the School of the Americas in Panama and by the end of the 60's it was already widespread as a common practice throughout the Continent as the basic component of the doctrine of National security and the imperial counterinsurgent war, especially in the so-called Dirty War of the dictatorships of the Southern Cone; whose consequences of disgrace have not yet been resolved.
In Colombia, Oligarchical Militarism was one of its most enthusiastic promoters and adopters, even reaching the sophistication of replacing the "electric prod" recommended by Franco-North American experts; by the bites of trained horses, in the Usaquén stables, against the "internal enemies" of the bipartisan regime of the Turbay-Camacho Leyva binomial (remember?), and to constitute the "Strategic essence" of the conformation of the death squads called Paramilitaries, who today 41 years after being executed, their creators of the transnationalized financial Oligarchy, are trying in vain to wash.
To them; that to advance their "counterinsurgent and Imperial war against the internal enemy as they call the working people, they hide the murderous mediocrity of their antidiallectic and metaphysical mind, occasionally adorning themselves with misconceptions and misunderstood phrases of that great dialectical and materialist thinker named Carl Von Clawsewitz, I offer you this quote that is at the beginning of your book on the War, and that sheds clarity to the Pharisee debate that Humanitarian law does not apply in Colombia, because it was decreed that it does not exist:
"3. Extreme application of violence. Philanthropic souls could easily think that there is an artificial way to disarm or defeat the adversary without causing too many injuries, and that this is the true trend of the art of war. As good as this sounds, Such an error must be destroyed, because in things as dangerous as war THOSE errors that arise from goodness are precisely the worst. Since the use of physical violence in all its scope does not in any way exclude from intelligence, those who It serves as that violence regardless of blood, it will have to have an advantage if the adversary does not do it. With that, he sets the law for the other, and thus both go up to the extreme with no barrier other than the inherent correlation of forces.
All the cases narrated here, which occurred a century and a half after the death of the Prussian general, where "the States put their hands in the latrine so as not to be defeated", ended up GENERATING INHERENT AND OPPOSITE FORCES that led to their unwanted defeat. , and to agree with Clawsewitz: Berlin, Saigon, Algiers, the South Latin American Cone or Central America, to mention just a few outstanding cases, anticipate what will happen to the recent executors of Abu Grail in Baghdad and those of San Onofre or San José of Apartadó in Colombia, which still go unpunished.
* By Alberto Pinzón Sánchez