From: Colombian Support Network (CSN)
Urgent Action-Vote of Congress on 2004 Foreign Aid Bill
July 17, 2003
The Colombia Support Network (CSN) wishes to encourage you to contact your Members of Congress to advise them to vote against the 2004 Foreign Aid Bill appropriation of $600 million in mostly military aid for Colombia. The bill is scheduled for debate next week in the House of Representatives. We expect an amendment to reduce or cut off aid will be introduced. Since the last vote in the House to cut off or reduce military aid to Colombia lost by only seven votes, a dedicated effort to inform Congressmen and encourage them to vote for an amendment to reduce military aid to Colombia or to convert proposed military aid into aid to victims of drug abuse in this country may succeed.
A CSN delegation has just returned from a visit to the Putumayo, the Colombian department (province) which is the focus of U.S. action. We have seen the futility of the coca crop spraying campaign which U.S. funding has spearheaded. The fumigation program has killed legal crops such as plantain and cassava (yuca), which peasants and indigenous peoples in the Putumayo depend upon to feed their families. It has caused injury to people, as the city clerk¹s office in Puerto Asis confirmed to us, and to farm animals and the environment. We personally witnessed that it has forced many peasants to leave their lands for refuge in the cities or to cut new areas of the rainforest. U.S. aid to the Colombian military, together with the policies of the Uribe government, have greatly increased the violence in the Putumayo. Many indigenous peoples have been killed; others have been threatened and become refugees; we met with some of them and heard their harrowing stories.
Cooperation between the Colombian military and the police, who receive great quantities of U.S. aid, and illegal paramilitaries continues to be pervasive. We observed paramilitary unit members circulating freely throughout the urban district of Puerto Asis and were advised they even levy and collect taxes there to support themselves. The Inspector General of the Armed Forces, with whom we met, appeared unprepared to deal with these allegations of collaboration between the armed forces of Colombia and the paramilitaries.
It is time for the U.S. Government to end its militaristic policy toward Colombia, which has only brought death, destruction, poverty and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Colombians. Indigenous leaders we spoke with told us one of their peoples have gone from 25,000 persons to just 1600 due to application of meaasures.such as those of Plan Colombia, which the U.S. Government and U.S. taxpayers have underwritten.
Please call and write your Congressmen to ask that he or she vote against further military aid for Colombia. The relevant addresses and phone numbers are shown below.
John I. Laun
ACTION : CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSPERSONS AT www.colombiasupport.net IMMEDIATELY
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