Armoured vehicles to Colombia?

The Harper government is clearing the path for the sale of Canadian-made light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the government of Colombia.

The revelation was made by Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joseph Lavoie earlier this week in a letter to the editor explaining the recent addition of Colombia to Canada’s Automatic Firearms Country Control List (Joseph Lavoie, “Appropriate uses only,” Ottawa Citizen, 8 January 2013):

The change in question was required to allow for the export of light armoured vehicles from a Canadian company to the Government of Colombia.

The company in question would be General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada of London, Ontario, which manufactures light armoured vehicles both for the Canadian government and for export.

[Update: According to a military industry website (“Army of Colombia has selected the LAV III 8×8 armoured vehicle for its mechanized infantry units,”, 29 December 2012), the Colombian government has decided to order an “unconfirmed total” of 40 Canadian-made LAV IIIs.

Update 2: General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada acknowledged this afternoon that the company has received a $65.3 million (U.S.) contract to supply 24 LAV IIIs to the Colombian Army. In a press release sent out within hours of‘s post, the company’s senior vice-president and general manager for International Operations is quoted as saying, “We are proud to have been selected by the Colombian military to meet their armoured vehicle requirement and look forward to establishing a long-term relationship with this very important customer.” (“General Dynamics Awarded $65 Million by the Colombian Ministry of National Defence for Light Armoured Vehicles,” GDLS-C, 10 January 2013).

Does this mean more LAV contracts to come? GDLS-C clearly hopes so.]

The prospect of a lucrative arms sale explains not only the addition of Colombia to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, but also the earlier conclusion of a memorandum of understanding on defence co-operation with Colombia (Jessica Hume, “Canada, Colombia strengthen defence relationship,” London Free Press, 17 November 2012).

An internal armed conflict has been underway in Colombia since the 1940s, and paramilitary death squads with ties to the Colombian government, and the government itself, have consistently been linked to extrajudical executions and other human rights violations, as noted in reporting by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and even the U.S. State Department.

The Canadian government has long claimed that Canada’s arms export regulations “closely control” the export of military equipment to human rights violators and countries in or facing imminent armed conflict. But those rules often seem to lose their force when sizable contracts are at stake–as they did in 2011 when the Harper government’s “principled” foreign policy managed to accommodate billions of dollars of LAV sales to Saudi Arabia even as LAVs the Saudis had bought from Canada earlier were helping to crush pro-democracy demonstrators in neighbouring Bahrain.

Further coverage:

David Pugliese, “You’re Wrong — Canada Isn’t Selling Assault Rifles to Colombia. It’s Selling Them Light Armored Vehicles Instead, Says John Baird’s Office,” Defence Watch blog, 11 January 2013

Ken Epps, “Colombia orders armoured vehicles from Canada,” Project Ploughshares blog, 11 January 2013

Photo credit: DND

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7 Responses to “Armoured vehicles to Colombia?”

  1. howard doughtyJanuary 14, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    Mr. Clement:

    I don’t mean to pick on you, but you’re the proverbial straw and I have a dromedary’s back. Now, I must first say that I agree with you 100%. Mr. Harper must have been “bullied” as a child or he wouldn’t now be trying so hard to show how tough he is. Whether it’s chiding Mr. Chretien to line up with Bush 43 and illegally invade Iraq or telling people in the Maritimes that they just lazy layabouts, he’s always trying to assert his maleness with unsustainable bravado.

    No, what I object to in your note is the use of the “rhetorical question.” It’s not as bad as the people who ask “When will be be compassionate toward the poor?” or “When will we learn to protect the Earth?” These questions are easily answered: We will instill equity in our economic order when the poor (and the working and middle classes) demand it and shake the plutocracy out of its palatial castle; and, We will learn to protect the Earth when we can no longer survive in the heat and smog … probably to late.

    As for Mr. Harper, he is as “out of touch” as we allow him to be! As long as he can schmooze with his oil-rich buddies and smirk at the rest of us, he’ll be just fine tinkling on his piano and watching hockey games. Only when he is removed from office by the more than 60% of Canadians who voted against him last time but gave him a majority anyway, will we see the last of him. Let’s just hope he is replaced by someone other than a rich air-head … if you know who I mean.

  2. Jacques B. NimbelleJanuary 12, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    Dear El Comandante Harper, Minister of War McKay, and Minister of Affairs with Foreigners Baird:

    It’s 2013!! We’ve had our ‘fun’ in Afghanistan. I for one have learned my lessons. WAR DOES NOT WORK!!

    Let’s tear a page out of Lester B Pearson’s book, eh? He was a master statesman and negotiater. He created our former reputation as Peace-Makers. We can learn to make money by means other than contributing to war and violence, and particularly with Colombia, a country bogged down in human-rights abuses…granted starting to improve under Santos.

  3. Donna StockerJanuary 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    The speed with which Harper can stir up trouble everywhere he looks is appalling.

  4. EricJanuary 11, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    Canada has made enough enemies in western and central Asia for a while, so it’s time to make some in our own hemisphere. Besides, Canadian-based mining companies can use some help in keeping ‘order’ while they extract the wealth of Colombia and other countries in the hemisphere. It’s not enough to politically and diplomatically support coups against democratic governments in Haiti, Honduras and Paraguay; we’ve gotta show ’em we mean military business.

  5. Monica Do Coutto MonniJanuary 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Arming a narco-state sigh. Will go to the military strategist genius Hall of Fame – Harper, Napoleon and Julius Caesar sigh

  6. rob clementJanuary 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Just when you think Harper can’t possibly do anything else stupid he goes and throws another game-changer. Just how out of touch is this narcissist?


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