By Arlen Grossman
A 12-year-old Colombian girl was allegedly drugged and raped inside a Colombian air force base in 2007. The perpetrators were U.S. Army Sergeant Michael J. Coen and defense contractor Cesar Ruiz. They were never arrested and were subsequently flown out of Colombia.
That scathing accusation was part of a report jointly commissioned by the pro-U.S. Colombian government and the leftist rebel group FARC. The 800-page document, according to Colombia Reports, was written to help peace negotiators determine responsibility for the 220,000 dead victims and millions more injured in the 50-year armed conflict between the Colombian government and the rebels. The U.S. military has been assisting the government of Colombia all those years in the fight against the FARC and other leftist groups.
Colombians were understandably outraged about the rape of the 12-year-old girl. The victim, her sister, and her mother were forced to move to a different city because of threats from forces loyal to the suspects, the mother told Colombian television. The U.S. embassy in 2009 told Miami newspaper El Nuevo Herald that it might reopen the closed case against Coen and Ruiz, but the two suspects remain unindicted.
The report also accuses U.S. soldiers and military contractors of sexually abusing at least 54 Colombian children between 2003 and 2007. These crimes were reportedly filmed and sold as pornograpy. According to Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper, the victims’ families received death threats, forcing them to flee the region. There have been no prosecutions for these crimes due to immunity clauses in agreements between the U.S. and Colombia.
If you are an American and this is the first you’ve heard of these crimes, it’s not surprising. Because as horrific as these crimes are, there are two additional layers of shame: that the perpetrators were able to escape prosecution because of bilateral immunity agreements, and that reports of these vicious child sex crimes have been ignored by the mainstream American news media.
The New York Times or Washington Post hasn’t reported on these charges. CNN and MSNBC have ignored them. In fact, there is a virtual blackout from the corporate media on the commission’s report.
The American government, military and media should be ashamed. And the American people should be as outraged as the Colombians. The news media blackout is inexcusable.
You might want to read the debate in the comments section under fair.org’s report on the issue. Especially the comment by the person who wrote the Colombia Reports report.
Here’s another still-horrifying, but different version of the events the historian referred to, written from a gender studies perspective, written by a Colombian who _ apparently unlike the essayist in the orginal report _ did interview people involved: