Guerra de Colombia (Spanish)
|Part of Latin American Wars and the Cold War|
Clockwise from top left: Aftermath of the Bogotá embassy incident, a Senderista guerilla inspecting the bodies of civilians after the Medellín massacre, SRA combat operations in Panama, the arrival of Camilo Velázquez in Bogotá, and the Senderistas meeting RCA troops at the Battle of Caracas
The Colombia War (Spanish: Guerra de Colombia), also known as the Andean War (Spanish: Guerra andina), and in the United People's Committees as the Sierran Intervention in the Andes (Spanish: Intervención serrana en los Andes) or the War Against Sierran Imperialism (Spanish: Guerra contra el imperialismo serrano), was a conflict in the United People's Committees from 14 February 1969 to 23 November 1977 after Sierran coalition forces withdrew and the National Front surrendered to the Andes Liberation Action Party in Antioquia. The United People's Committees was supported by the United Commonwealth, Spain, Italy, and other Marxist and Landonist allies; the National Front was supported by Sierra, Brazoria, Superior, Astoria, and other anti-Marxist and anti-Landonist countries. The war is considered a proxy war of the Cold War and lasted over 8 years, and is sometimes included with the preceding Colombian Civil War as part of the larger-scale Latin American Wars.
The conflict originated from the political turmoil and infighting in Gran Colombia, under the National Front, which occurred during the 1960s. In October 1968, a peasant uprising in Ayacucho inspired similar nationwide rebellions, starting the Colombian Civil War. The civil war lasted two years, resulting with the victory of the Andes Liberation Action Party, and the establishment of people's committees throughout the country. Sierra backed regime change in the region and sought to restore control over Gran Colombia under the National Front. Initially, Sierra covertly supported anti-government and reactionary forces in the United People's Committees through RIA activities. By 1970, Sierra escalated its military involvement from covert spies to military advisors. A false flag attack on the Sierran embassy in Bogotá was used as pretext for Sierra to intervene militarily, which increased its presence to actual troops. Initial troop levels were 15,000, before rising to 50,000 by 1972. Sierra continued to gradually increase its military presence to over 200,000 troops.
Sierra and its coalition forces pursued a military strategy based on conventional, urban-style offensives, and relied aerial superiority, including airstrikes and use of herbicide. The Andes Liberation Action Party engaged in conventional warfare with the opposing forces, while Sendero Luminoso relied on guerrilla warfare, retaining control over the Andes' jungle and rural areas, and evading detection by Sierran search and destroy missions and operations.
The Medellín massacre and similar events turned public opinion on the Sierran home front increasingly away from supporting the war. As progress stalled, Sierran military advisors' concerns grew that the war would be unwinnable and the growing number of casualties and costs were getting more difficult to justify continued operations. Sierra began working on an exit strategy based on Kovrov Stoyanovich's Vietnamization, which would increase training and armament for the Gran Colombian counterinsurgency, while Sierra would decrease its presence in the region. Sierra completely withdrew its forces after the signing of the Kingston Accords on 2 February 1976, months into the anti-war government of Kirk Siskind. Following a breakdown in negotiations between the Andean revolutionary government and the counterinsurgency, the revolutionary government recaptured Bogotá, the Colombian highlands, and Peru, ending the war.
Background[edit | edit source]
The racial aspect of the politicized Casta system (incorporated and codified into law regarding voting rights and immigration in 1923) would become even more extreme when the derzhavist-leaning military dictator Luis Sanchez seized power in a coup d'état in 1935. Racial and social segregation would shape the Colombian society until the end of the Second Great War which Colombia had lost in 1966. By then the Federal Republic of Colombia was established and the segregation had been abolished, but the new inexperienced government (primarily made up of politicians of the previously tolerated opposition of the Liberal Party and the reestablished Conservatives) failed to quickly stabilize the economically troubled country. This civil unrest escalated into the Colombian Civil War starting in 1968 from a peasant uprising in the South of the country. The Civil War overlapped in large parts with the Colombia War (until about 1972 when the federal government went into exile). After the seizure of the vast oil fields in Venezuela and the occupation of tin and copper mines in Peru in 1969 and 1970 respectively, the Colombia Civil War drew the attention of Sierran and Brazorian investors, who lost their property and began lobbying their governments for an intervention in the Civil War.
This coincided with the general Containment strategy of Sierran foreign politics which aimed to limit the influence of Marxism and Landonism on the global scale and a general support of the United Commonwealth towards the National Action Party, a coalition of various fractured left-wing groups present in the Colombian Parliament after the Second Great War. The NAP would officially break from the National Front in 1970 when victory on the side of the Rebels, most notably the National Liberation Action, became more and more apparent.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
Bogotá embassy incident[edit | edit source]
On 9 September 1970, the RIA executed a pseudo-operation raid on the Sierran embassy in Bogotá, which had been heavily fortified and spared from the unrest during the Colombian Civil War. While Sierra continued to recognize the Gran Colombian government-in-exile, it maintained its operations in the Andes to ostensibly establish a working relationship with the new regime. Although the embassy security were informed of the plans, the embassy staff without security clearances were not, including the embassy's chargé d'affaires Chris Wilkens. The RIA recruited local Andean right-wing paramilitary personnel, as well as its own agents to pose as armed partisans from the National Action Party and Sendero Luminoso. They were instructed to stage an attack on the embassy, and blend in with the general populace, by inciting and leading a riot to storm the embassy. More than 100 men were involved in the incident and dozens of more civilians who were coaxed into the act participated. The building was breached and the embassy staff were secretly evacuated, but their disappearance was staged as kidnappings. The embassy was vandalized and partially damaged from explosion and fires due to the use of improvised explosives and burning material.
In 2010, the NCSA released a declassified report which revealed that the attack was a false flag operation which was orchestrated by the RIA and done with approval by the Joint Chiefs of the Defense Staff, as well as Prime Minister Walter Zhou.
Following the attack, Sierran media covered the event prolifically, while public demonstrations were held outside the former Gran Colombian embassy in Porciúncula, demanding the Andean government apprehend the attackers responsible for the incident and to secure the safety of the Sierran embassy staff. The attack was first portrayed as an act of terrorism by the Zhou government, before it began labeling the incident as an act of war by the Andean government for its apparent delay in condemning the attack and purported responsibility for the attack. Prime Minister Zhou pushed Parliament to declare war on Andes, but was later dissuaded by national security advisors who argued that declaring war could potentially bring the United Commonwealth into the conflict. Policymakers and military intelligence worried that an official entry into war would likely violate the terms of the New Orleans Accords, which Sierra had signed with the United Commonwealth to maintain a tenuous, fragile working relationship since the end of Great War I, and precariously led during Great War II as two of the leading Allied co-belligerents. The New Orleans Accords forbade the signatory parties from entering wars in the Western Hemisphere, although this was provably ignored once already during the Sierran intervention in the North Mexican insurgency in 1968. Meanwhile, the North American Amity Treaty was the primary non-aggression pact signed between Sierra and the United Commonwealth specifically, which encouraged parties to resolve disputes diplomatically and discourage engaging in security measures which would "escalate tensions" between them.
Public opinion overwhelmingly favored war in the Andes, and the Royalist government was dominated by war hawks who favored a containment strategy to limit the spread of Marxism and Landonism internationally. In order to avoid the legal implications of a formal declaration of war, Parliament approved the Andes Resolution, which authorized Prime Minister Zhou to use conventional military force in the Andes, including armed forces, to protect the "integrity of Gran Colombia", in pursuance to the 1962 security agreement signed between the two governments. The resolution formed the basis for Sierra's involvement in the Andes and freed up legal barriers Zhou would have faced if he went down the traditional route to war.
Counterinsurgency in Peru[edit | edit source]
Although Peru was a hotbed for revolutionary activity and was the domestic homeland for the Senderistas, large portions of Peru remained under de facto control by anticommunist forces, including those whose allegiance remained loyal to the Gran Colombian Government in Exile and the National Front. The Senderistas and the Andean revolutionary government were generally popular among the Peruvian peasantry due to resentment towards the policies of the previous regime, but there was a prominent minority which opposed them. Landlords who had their property confiscated were another group of Peruvians who joined the counterinsurgency, in an effort to regain control over their private landholdings. The Loreto Department in the Amazon Basin and the Cuzco Department were particularly significant as one of the few remaining holdouts for the Liberales and Conservadores in the southern Andes, prior to Sierra's intervention. Throughout the rest of Peru, infighting continued, including around the Lima area, between the Andean revolutionary government and reactionary counterinsurgents. In addition to the regular forces of the National Force, the Rondas Campesinas and Grupo Colina fought against the Andean government, committing acts of terrorism, sabotage, and guerilla war tactics. Sierran and Anglo-American intelligence activity was comparatively more extensive in Peru than elsewhere, and the Sierran government originally conspired to back a movement for Peruvian independence prior to the Colombian Civil War. During the onset of the Colombia War, this possibility was raised again with serious issue as Sierran military strategists identified Peru as a region of interest to support and base its initial ground operations.
Capture of Galápagos Islands and Salinas landings[edit | edit source]
On 2 November 1970, 2,500 K.S. Royal Marines landed on the Galápagos Islands, off the coast of the Ecuadorian Andes. This marked the beginning of Sierran ground involvement and the islands were captured with almost no resistance due to the sparse civilian population and virtual lack of military presence. The Sierran Crown Armed Forces made plans to convert the islands into the center of base operations, which would include the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy stationing there. Within an hour of the landing on the Galápagos, the Sierran Royal Army and Marines made their first mainland landing on a beachhead near Salinas.
The initial objectives for Sierran ground deployment and invasion in Ecuador and Peru was to defend key areas where the counterinsurgency was the strongest. Sierran military commanders intended to secure major cities including Quito and Lima, and to restore Gran Colombia's governmental control in the region. Although Sierran commanders and troops were seasoned with coastal land operations and naval engagements, there were less experienced in sustained inland operations. The mountainous and forested terrain of the southern Andes proved difficult to navigate and was the first indication of trouble for the Sierran forces. Relying on superior airpower from the Sierran Royal Air Force and Brazorian Air Force, more than 200 distinct locations were targeted and bombed. Significant bombardment, which had begun prior to Sierran landing, was particularly heavy in the region between Quito and Guayaquil where many of the Andean People's Army bases were stationed. There were initial concerns by General Justin K. Hawley that attacking the densely populated cities would cripple the Andean civilian infrastructure, thereby bolstering Andean public support for the Andean government, but it was ultimately pursued.
Invasion of Panama[edit | edit source]
Sierran troops landed in Panama, a region which was separated from the rest of the Andes by the Darién Gap. It was viewed as an important location for Sierra to neutralize, as control over the Panamanian isthmus included control over the Panama Canal. The canal itself was originally constructed and maintained by the United Commonwealth and the Northeast Union, but Continental control discontinued following the Continental Revolutionary War, and Northeastern presence was effectively removed following the Northeastern Revolution. Interest in Sierran control over international trade between the Pacific and the Atlantic spurned Sierra to construct the Nicaragua Canal while the Panama Canal was being excavated.
Battle in the Highlands[edit | edit source]
The Battle in the Highlands (also known as the Highland front) was the first counterattack of the Andean government and the Sendero Luminoso militias against the Peruvian counter insurgency in 1970, mostly taking place in the southern Cuzco Department and the Department of Puno. Though called battle colloquially the highland campaign consisted of a series of raids and advancements towards the anti-government stronghold in Cusco that lasted until the city was captured in early 1972. The Senderista militias used their stronghold in Ayacucho as their headquarters and rallied support from the locals to fight against the National Front and the anti-Landonist vigilant groups without direct connection to the Government in Exile called Fuerzas Autodefensas Colombianas (Colombian Self-Defense Forces, FAC) which were formed by the well situated farmers and the urban middle class, particularly by those of white and/or Hispanic descent as well as remainders of the Partido del Salvataje Nacional the ruling party of the former Derzhavist regime between 1935 to 1966. The first attack started in May of 1970 when Senderista and People's Army troops left Ayacucho and overwhelmed the National Front in Calca. Casualties were comparatively heavy during the first stage of the highland front, with at least 300 losses on the side of the pro-government forces, the National losses are unknown but estimated to range from 100 to 150. The city was seized by Senderista militias within two days. Further air raids by the Sierran and Brazorian Air Forces proved to be difficult, as the Senderista headquarters were either hidden in civilian buildings or at places high in the mountains which were difficult to reach for both air and land troops that weren't used to this environment. Guerrilla tactics caused heavy casualties on both sides and many civilian victims. The highland campaign saw one of the first large war crimes of the war, when the then commander of the Sendero Luminoso in Peru, Commandante Gonzalo ordered the arrest and execution of land owners, often including some of the plantation overseers as well.