What are the implications of Petro’s win on the sale of Canadian-manufactured LAVs to the Colombian military?
Photo: General Dynamics Land Systems exhibits its 8×8 LAV III at Expodefensa 2017 arms show in Bogota, Colombia.
On June 15, El Observador reported: “[President-elect Gustavo] Petro’s plans imply a reorientation of spending that could mean cuts to the Colombian military budget – US $11 billion, 12% of the total – which is second only to Brazil’s. The priority will be marked by the resources destined to combat the 40% poverty that prevails in the country.”
Petro has stated: “I am not going to waste resources on weapons and bombs.”
Infobae also reported that Petro (after his second-round election win on June 19) called on the current president Ivan Duque to suspend the purchase of new military aircraft, stating: “Any plane that is bought for public institutions in these weeks, will be sold again.”
And Pagina 12 has reported: “”The mistrust between the president and the military is significant,” says [Sergio] Guzmán [from the Colombia Risk Analysis consultancy], adding that [President-elect Petro] “must select a defense minister who has the respect and trust of the members of the military forces.” Otherwise, he stresses, the transition will be a “disaster.” So far, the president-elect has only revealed that he will hand over that portfolio to a woman specialized in human rights.”
A deal to sell Canadian LAVs?
It’s unclear at this time what the implications are for the sale of Canadian-manufactured Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to Colombia.
On May 20, Infodefensa.com reported: “Yesterday, May 19, the Colombian Government, through the Ministry of Defense, approved the purchase of 50 General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) 8×8 LAV III DVH armored vehicles.”
The article adds: “The LAV III DVH is manufactured by the Canadian subsidiary of General Dynamics Land Systems.”
This is not the first time LAVs have been sold to Colombia.
In January 2013, GDLS-Canada announced: “The Colombian Ministry of National Defence has awarded a USD $65.3 million contract to General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada for 24 Light Armoured Vehicles for the Colombian Army.”
In July 2015, Lee Berthiaume reported in the Ottawa Citizen: “Questions are being raised over the Conservative government’s push to sell arms to developing countries following explosive allegations linking Colombian military officers to the killing of hundreds of civilians during the country’s bloody civil war.”
This refers to false positives/falsos positivos.
“False positives” refers to innocent people extrajudicially killed by members of the Colombian army, and then falsely labelled as enemy combatants. It is now believed that 6,402 people were murdered by the army in this way between 2002 and 2008.
In an interview with El País, Petro commented: “We must put an end to the policy built on the internal enemy that has led to tremendous human rights violations, such as the murder of 6,402 young people to pass them off as guerrilla casualties.”
Petro will be sworn into office on August 7.
PBI-Canada has filed an Access to Information request with the Canadian Commercial Corporation to find out more about the sale of Canadian LAVs to Colombia.