Urgent Action Alert! April 1, 2003
Call All Congressional Offices about Colombia Military Aid!
Thanks to all who faxed or made calls in the last two days to the Appropriations Committees about the underhanded addition of $104 million to the Colombian military to the Iraq War bill. Because of this quick work, there may be an amendment to cut the Colombian aid from the bill, but the bill will come to a vote as soon as Wednesday or Thursday, so we have to again move very fast. This time we need to call and fax ALL congressional offices to alert them to this opportunistic maneuver and to encourage them to oppose this additional aid to Colombia.
In his $75 billion request for Iraq funding, President Bush has
included $104 million in additional money for the Colombian armed forces--
this is on top of the over $500 million they have received for this year
already! Part of this money will go to protect an oil pipeline in Colombia
owned in part by Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum, and part will be
used for stepped-up fumigation efforts. The Colombia aid is being snuck in
at a moment when all eyes are focused on the war, and we need to work
quickly to oppose it.
Call and/or fax ALL congressional offices TODAY and TOMORROW!
The bill may go to the floor as early as Wednesday, April 2 or
Thursday, April 3. There may be an amendment offered to cut the Colombia
aid out of the package, but we are not sure yet if the amendment will be
Therefore, we need phone calls and letters today and tomorrow to your
members of Congress with the following message: "Support any amendment to
the Iraq supplemental that cuts out Colombia aid, and speak on the floor in
opposition to the inclusion of this aid in the Iraq package. Especially at
this moment, when our resources are stretched so thin, more Colombia aid
does not make sense-- and it could have terrible human rights implications
for Colombian civilians."
To contact your members' offices by phone, call the Congressional
Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with your member's
office. You can then ask to speak with the foreign policy aide, and voice
your concerns to him or her. If you don't know who your representative is,
please see www.house.gov/writerep.
A sample letter to be faxed to members of Congress is included below. Fax
numbers for your senator or representative can be found at www.house.gov or
Please take five minutes to do this today! To help us with our work on the
DC end, please send any feedback you receive from congressional offices to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your hard work!
Send a fax TODAY or TOMORROW!
Attn: Foreign Policy Aide
Urgent-- Iraq Supplemental
Tuesday, April 1, 2003
Dear Senator/Representative X,
As the Iraq supplemental moves to the floor, I am sure that much of your
attention is focused on the war. However, I urge you to pay attention to
the $104 million that was included in that bill for Colombia. Colombia has
already received a little over $500 million for 2003. At a moment when our
resources are stretched thin, I urge you to support any amendment to cut the
Colombia aid out of the bill, and to speak on the floor in opposition to the
inclusion of this aid in the Iraq package.
Unlike the shadowy terrorist cells that move from country to country
elsewhere in the world, the armed groups in Colombia are well-established
armies with control over land and enormous access to financial and military
resources. Even if the Colombian government were able to defeat them
militarily-- which would take billions of dollars and cost untold civilian
lives-- the peace would likely be short-lived; addressing social and
economic issues at the root of the violence would be a much better use of
our funds. We are also sending a terrible message on human rights by
sending more military aid to an armed forces that, according to Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch, collaborate actively with brutal
right-wing paramilitary groups who are on the US terrorist list. I do not
believe that sending more aid to a military that collaborates with a
terrorist group is really supporting the war on terrorism. I do not believe
that it will make us or Colombian civilians safer.
I ask you to vote in favor of any amendment offered to cut the Colombia aid
out of the bill, and to speak on the floor in opposition to the inclusion of
this aid in the Iraq package. Because of the grave human rights concerns
surrounding aid to the Colombian armed forces, any aid to Colombia should be
thoroughly debated as part of the regular appropriations process. When the
foreign aid bill for 2004 comes before Congress, I urge you to support
social and economic assistance to Colombia and increased treatment and
prevention funding at home. Until we address the demand for drugs in the
US, our supply-side efforts in Colombia will be futile.
Thank you very much for your attention to the issue of Colombia.