Letter from Latin American Working Group:
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to visit Washington April 30 as the push for STILL MORE military aid continues...
Time to target LOCAL MEDIA with letters to the editor-- let's get the word
out to Congress through their home papers!
ACTION NEEDED: Please send letters to the editor of your local papers ON
APRIL 29 or 30, OR MAY 1. President Uribe will be in Washington starting
April 30, and will likely stay through May 2 or 3. He will be discussing
trade issues and continued military aid. Because Congress almost voted to
cut the additional military aid to Colombia that was included in the Iraq
supplemental, Uribe will be trying to shore up congressional support for
continued military assistance. We need to tell Congress that we DON'T
believe continued military aid is the answer, and there's no better way to
do that than through local papers, which congressional staff read daily.
EVEN IF YOUR LETTER IS NOT PRINTED, YOU SHOULD SEND IT TO YOUR CONGRESSIONAL
OFFICE SO THEY KNOW THAT YOU SUBMITTED IT TO THE PAPER.
A sample letter to the editor is included below to start you off, and you're
welcome to use it, although your own words are always best. Here are some
tips on writing letters to the editor:
-Most LTEs are 200-300 words in length.
-Your newspaper's letters page should give you an e-mail or fax number to
use to submit the letter. You can also check your newspaper's website for
information on how to send a letter.
-If your paper has recently covered Colombia and you can cite the article in
your letter, do so. This increases the chances that your letter will be
published (since most LTEs are responses to articles).
-LTEs are very widely read, so be sure to make your point clear and keep
your language simple-- don't use jargon or complicated terms. They are
educational tools as well as spaces to convey an opinion.
-Be sure to include your name, address, and especially telephone number at
the end of the letter. Editors need to call you to verify authorship before
they print the letter; they won't publish your address or phone number.
And remember, be sure to send your congressional office a copy of the letter
so they know that you submitted it. Also, please send me a copy so I can
keep track of what districts are being covered-- email@example.com. Thank
Here's a sample LTE. To see how your representative voted on the Colombia
amendment to the Iraq bill, please go to
http://www.lawg.org/colSUPvotes.htm. If you don't know who your
representative is, see www.house.gov/writerep.
To the Editor
Recently, Colombia appeared on the list of countries to receive extra
military aid from the US because of its support for the war with Iraq,
despite the opposition of 57% of its population to that war. Representative
[your rep's name] voted [for/against] an amendment to cut out that aid. [I
applaud this decision (if they voted in favor) OR This vote greatly concerns
me (if they voted against)-- see http://www.lawg.org/colSUPvotes.htm for
voting record]. The US has given Colombia more than two billion dollars
over the past three years to fight the drug war, and now to combat guerillas
forces as well. This week, President Alvaro Uribe is in Washington
requesting still more money. One wonders what principles guide such massive
Is our goal to stop the flow of drugs to the US? If so, we seem to be
failing, as drug availability on US streets remains stable, and drug
production burgeons in Peru following a fumigation program in Colombia that
has destroyed not only drug crops, but legal crops as well. Farmers in these
areas lose trust in the state as they see their food crops ruined by errant
spraying. They often re-plant their drug crops when alternative crop
assistance is not delivered.
Is our goal to support the Colombian government in their decades-long war
against guerilla groups, whose combined ranks number over 40,000? We have
already intervened in such wars, from Guatemala to Vietnam, with mixed
results at best.
Or perhaps we hope to protect US interests by stationing Special Forces
troops around a vulnerable oil pipeline. One wonders how many troops will
be needed to protect a pipeline hundreds of miles long against mobile and
virtually invisible attackers who can strike at any point.
Clearly our role in Colombia needs clarification and revision. We can ill
afford to continue policing the world, protecting oil and gas interests and
fighting endless wars with murky goals. I hope that Colombia does not become
a quagmire for the United States. If we are going to aid Colombia, we would
do better to focus on improving the lives of the thousands of displaced
civilians devastated by years of war, and providing alternatives for farmers
whose livelihoods have been destroyed by fumigation.
Thank you and good luck!