Editor’s note: as a result of a PanAm Post article from October 2014, about EU Nations funding guerrilla violence in Guatemala, Dutch Member of Parliament Joram van Klaveren (VNL) has asked detailed questions of the Dutch government. Jan Gajentaan published a column on the topic with Dagelijkse Standaard, republished here in English with permission.
Last Thursday, in my biweekly column, I told readers about the warm ties that the Venezuelan Chavistas maintain with southern-European, populist-Marxist parties such as Podemos and Syriza, who receive millions in petrodollars from Venezuela. In that context, I had contact with an academic and media commentator in Guatemala, Antón Toursinov. He asked me to pay attention to another abuse: the financing of Marxist guerrilla in Guatemala with Dutch and EU development funds.
In his article on the matter, Antón first turns to 1996, when the Guatemalan government signed a peace agreement with the Marxist guerrilla movement, under pressure from the international community. Someone at that time must have come up with the bright idea of changing the guerrilla movement into NGOs, for the promotion of “human rights” — obviously generously subsidized by the West.
And so it happened. In total, at least €135 million (US$153 million) in EU development funds have subsequently gone to these NGOs. For the creative ploys that ensued, just read the article by Antón.
The bizarre result of this, however, is that these so-called NGOs commit terrorist attacks, robberies, and the like. You might say they initiate problems to investigate and thus keep up the flow of subsidies. Meanwhile, they are a nuisance for entrepreneurs and well-intentioned citizens in Guatemala, because they stop any form of progress, such as the building of roads or hydroelectric plants. They thwart such developments through intimidation and even brutal murders of entire families. The aim is to keep the population dependent.
It reminded me of an article I once read about lawsuits in Africa against violators of human rights, including innocent people convicted through the use of bribed witnesses. In this case it happens to retrieve Western “human rights” subsidies.
But the case of Guatemala is even more serious, because here possibly terror is indirectly subsidized. One particular name that has been mentioned to me often in this negative context is that of Daniel Pascual. The former guerrilla leader now coordinates the Committee of Campesino Unity (CUC), an organization with a supposedly progressive image, sponsored by the West.
In recent days I have spoken with several people in Guatemala, all of whom confirm these stories and ask the Dutch government to conduct a thorough investigation into how such NGOs operate. Since 2013, by the way, there is no longer a Dutch embassy in Guatemala; the embassy in Costa Rica has taken over that role.
Another name that has come up in conversations with citizens of Guatemala is that of Dutch Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, of the radical Socialist Party. He is one MP who has been active in the past with providing financial support to dubious NGOs in Guatemala.
The ex-guerrilla, now “NGO directors,” have been using development funds to strengthen their organizations. As a result, parts of the country have become a “no man’s land,” where the government has no access. From these “no-go areas,” businesses and infrastructure projects are thwarted, drug trafficking is conducted, and employees of legitimate businesses are intimidated or killed. In 2014, even an entire family was killed, whose father worked at a cement factory.
While I am relating this to Dutch MPs, a few days ago I read about our Dutch “guerrilla chick” Tanja Nijmeijer, a distinguished member of the FARC. She has invited Dutch MPs to enter into dialogue in Cuba with the Marxist terrorists, regarding the ongoing peace negotiations in Colombia. And guess who is set to be the ringleader of the participation: yes indeed, the same Harry van Bommel.
In addition, EU-MP Hans van Baalen of the VVD party has shown interest in the conversations with terrorist Tanja. We all know that Van Baalen can bark up the wrong tree, as we remember his perilous adventures on the Maidan Square in Ukraine with Guy Verhofstadt.
Let Harry and Hans make this kind of business trip at their own expense, if they cannot withstand the temptation, but certainly not at the expense of the Dutch taxpayers! A superior use of any such money would be an investigation into mistakes made by the international community with regard to the peace process in Guatemala and its aftermath.
Fortunately, there are also Dutch parliamentarians who believe in accountability, such as Joram van Klaveren of VNL, a new classical-liberal party. He has referred the following questions to the minister for foreign trade and development, on EU support for guerrilla in Guatemala.
- Are you familiar with the article “EU Nations Fund Guerrilla Violence in Guatemala?” in the PanAm Post?
- How can you guarantee that the nearly €2.5 million [$2.82 million] that the Netherlands gave in 2013 and 2014 to Guatemala have not (partly) ended up with Marxist guerrilla?
- Can you give an overview of the NGOs operating in Guatemala from 1996 that have received subsidies from the Dutch government?
- How much of the more than €10 million [$11.3 million] that the Netherlands spends under the Central America Program is intended for NGOs in Guatemala? I would like a breakdown by NGOs, by country.
- Would you provide us with a summary of all financial support at the EU level that goes to NGOs in Guatemala?
It will probably take several weeks before the Dutch government comes up with an answer. The Dutch site Daily Standard (Dagelijkse Standaard) will follow this case closely for its readers.
Jan Gajentaan is an independent human-resources consultant based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Follow @jangajentaan.
Edited by Fergus Hodgson.