Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Is Klein Coming Clean?

Yair Klein, the Israeli mercenary who trained Colombian paramilitaries during the 1980s and '90s, is talking to Colombian journalists in Israel, where he's at a safe distance from a ten-year prison sentence given him by a Colombian court.

Klein claims that his activities - training outlaw paramilitary groups - were approved of by the Colombian government and also the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Klein made his statements in the book 'The Klein Case: The Origins of Paramiltarism' (El Caso Klein: El origen del paramilitarismo), by Colombian journalists Olga Behar and her daughter Carolina Ardilla.

Of course, Klein has a strong self-interest in making these claims, which would give a veneer of legality to his actions - altho they don't change the fact that the groups he trained committed horrific human rights violations, including chainsaw massacres.

Still, Klein is believable. For many years, it was an open secret that Colombia's military collaborated with right-wing paramilitaries and let them do the military's dirty work.

But Klein's excuse that he believed he was training people for no more than innocent self-defense against guerrillas sound like the worst sort of self-deception - at best. After all, during his years in Colombia violence by left- and right-wing organizations, as well as narcotrafficking groups, was widespread. And his comments also contain a chilling historical echo. After all, Klein's own nation Israel was founded to a large degree by survivors of the Holocaust - a crime committed in many cases by men and women who claimed they were just following orders or didn't know the consequences of their actions.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

I am pleased to see that you're writing and addressing the issue of the paramilitary. Just to clarify that the guerrilla is not the only player in the conflict.

Mauricio Forero.

Jimmy said...

Finally. Mauricio is right. The AUC is just as bad, if not worse, then the FARC.