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Announcement :: Human Rights
Peace in Colombia: National Vigil & Call-In Day
by InterReligious Task Force on Central America
26 Apr 2005
Modified: 01:48:44 PM
The San José de Apartadó massacre:
In February, eight members of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó were brutally killed (5 adults and 3 children); witnesses say that Colombian army troops are responsible. The Peace Community was formed when 17 towns and villages joined together in 1997 to insist that all armed groups stay out of their area. Since then, over 100 members have been killed or disappeared.
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PEACE IN COLOMBIA National Vigil & Call-in Day
Tuesday, APRIL 26, 2005
The Bush Administration proposes sending almost $731 million to Colombia next year. Why is the United States rewarding a military with a history of human rights violations against civilians? If the Colombian military is found to have committed the San José massacre, will the U.S. turn a blind eye again?
Since 2000, the US has funded "Plan Colombia" with more than $3 billion, 80% for the military, accelerating the war. As documented by the US State Department and human rights groups, the Colombian military collaborates with the AUC, the largest right-wing paramilitary group. The AUC, responsible for the majority of civilian massacres, is designated as a "terrorist organization" by the US government.
Ten civilians are killed each day due to political violence. There are 3 million internally displaced refugees.
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will be in Colombia this week!----
U.S. law requires two annual State Department certifications of Colombian human rights. Each of these two certifications frees up 12.5 percent of military aid destined for Colombia. Though it is possible that Colombia's military was not involved in the February 21-22 massacre, until a thorough investigation is performed, the State Department should not release more aid to the Colombian military.
The massacre has generated outrage and crucial momentum on Colombia policy, including a strong letter from 32 members of Congress to President Uribe, and another letter from 28 national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
To send a fax to U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State Michael Kozak urging the Department of State to withhold certification of assistance to the Colombian military until there is a transparent, impartial investigation click: www.ucctakeaction.org/ctt.asp?u=1589&l=90018
Between April 26 and May 8, individuals and organizations across the U.S. will come together, calling for peace in Colombia. Let's flood congressional offices with phone calls and send a clear message that we want a new U.S.-Colombia policy!
Organize a group of friends or colleagues to make calls;
bring people together in your place of worship;
hold a peace vigil;
have cell phones available in your community for people to use;
or make a call yourself during your lunch hour.
This is our chance to highlight the failure of Plan Colombia.
RECENT BACKGROUND OF FAILED U.S. POLICY IN COLOMBIA
"Plan Colombia" was initiated by the Clinton and Pastrana (Colombia) Administrations in 2000. Since then, the US has funded "Plan Colombia" with more than $3 billion, 80% for the military, accelerating the war.
The Bush Administration has wholeheartedly endorsed hard-line President Alvaro Uribe, who came to office August 7, 2002, with strong support from Colombians tired of guerrilla abuses. Shortly after taking office, Uribe moved to install a state of emergency, allowing security forces to tap phones, search houses and carry out detentions without warrants and establishing military control in some areas of the country. The Colombian army has a poor human rights record—there are strong links between the army and brutal rightwing paramilitary forces. These hard-line measures are used against human rights groups & ordinary Colombian citizens, not just
against the guerrillas.
In 2002, the US Congress officially expanded the US mission in Colombia from counter-drugs to counter-insurgency. In the Colombian context, this is a green light for US involvement in Colombia's complex, decades-old civil war. The first major expansion was training troops to guard the Occidental oil pipeline in Arauca province, one of the areas under military control. (Occidental Oil is a corporation based in Los Angeles.)
In 2004, Congress doubled the cap on U.S. troops in Colombia, now raised to 800 troops + 600 "advisors."
The Bush Administration supports expansion of aerial fumigation in the "war on drugs." Small farmers and indigenous communities are suffering from the negative health effects.
Human rights and church leaders in Colombia maintain that globalization is behind the war— thousands killed and displaced so that corporate interests can take over resource-rich lands.
Forty thousand Colombians—mostly civilians—have been killed in the past decade.
10 civilians are killed each day due to political violence.
There are nearly three million internally displaced refugees in Colombia.
One thousand are forced to flee their homes every day.
TO CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSPERSON AND SENATORS:
202.224.3121 Capitol Switchboard
TALKING POINTS to use when you contact your legislator:
1. Please support cuts in military assistance to Colombia. Colombia receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually in U.S. military assistance despite the Colombian army's documented collaboration with illegal paramilitary groups, such as the AUC ("Auto Defensas de Colombia") which are on the U.S. terrorist list, admit to involvement in drug trafficking, and commit assassinations and massacres of civilians.
2. Please support efforts to end U.S.-sponsored aerial fumigation in Colombia. These spraying programs destroy food crops, damage the environment, threaten human health and drive rural families from their homes. Cocaine availability on U.S. streets has not decreased. This is a failed policy!
3. Please support judicial reform and civil rights to strengthen Colombia's democracy.
4. Please support more aid to people displaced from their homes by war and aerial fumigation.
5. Please support more monies for alternative economic development assistance.
6. Please insruct the State Department that Colombia has NOT met human rights conditions required by U.S. law to receive more aid.
7. Please pressure the Colombian government to conduct a full, transparent investigation into the San José de Apartadó massacre and bring the perpetrators to justice.
For more information, contact IRTF: InterReligious Task Force on Central America
3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44113 ~ 216.961.0003 ~ www.irtfcleveland.org
This work is in the public domain