URGENT ACTION -- July 8, 2003

On third anniversary of the signing of Plan Colombia, tell the Senate to debate and change Colombia policy!

Calls and letters needed during the week of July 14


July 13 is the three-year anniversary of the passage of Plan Colombia. Since 2000, the US Senate has signed the check for almost $2.5 billion in aid to Colombia-- but they've only debated the policy once, and that was two years ago. They will begin looking at the 2004 Colombia aid package-- almost $700 million in mostly-military aid-- later this month, but plan on passing it with no public debate. With so much at stake, we need to tell the Senate to debate and change this policy!


ACTION: Call or write your senators during the week of July 14 in commemoration of the three-year anniversary of Plan Colombia. Tell them about the impact of our military aid, and then ask them to debate and change the policy when the 2004 foreign aid bill-- the bill containing the Colombia aid-- comes to the Senate floor (this will likely be in September).


Also, be on the lookout for more urgent actions coming soon. The House will begin looking at the Colombia aid package this month as well, and there will probably be a House amendment to cut military aid to Colombia when the 2004 foreign aid bill reaches the House floor (which could be at the end of this month, but will probably be early September). Calls, letters, and other actions will be needed during that time!


Below is background information on the Senate campaign. We also have a number of materials available for you to use for calls and letters:


  * For a sample letter to the Senate on Colombia, see http://www.lawg.org/coljuly7ltr.htm.

  * For talking points for your letters and phone calls on Colombia, see http://www.lawg.org/coljuly7tp.htm.

  * For a timeline of Colombia-related events in Congress and suggested actions for the next few months, see http://www.lawg.org/coljuly7timeline.htm.


Thank you for all of your hard work!


Background on the Senate campaign: Colombia has received almost $2.5 billion in US aid since 2000, and more is on the way. Colombia is now the third largest recipient of US military aid after Israel and Egypt. The goals that Congress set out in 2000 when they passed the first Colombia bill have not been met-- in fact, in many cases, things have gotten worse. So why is the US Senate not even talking about this policy?


Our taxpayer dollars—over $600 million this year, and more next year if the policy continues-- go to fund counterinsurgency and counter-drug operations and to protect an oil pipeline in Colombia. These efforts have had a devastating effect on Colombian civilians, the armed conflict, and the environment, and have not curbed drug abuse in the US or violence in Colombia: it is a failed policy.


Thanks in part to the late Senator Wellstone, the US Senate debated the Colombia aid package in 2000 and 2001. However, the Senate has not talked about Colombia policy for the last two years. The US House, however, has had great debates over Colombia (thanks to your help), and the votes get closer each year. There will be another House vote on Colombia policy this year, probably in September—you’ll be hearing more about that soon.


On the week of July 14-the three-year anniversary of the signing of Plan Colombia-please ask the Senate why such a controversial policy has not been debated. Then, ask them to debate and change the policy. Thank you for your help!


Elanor Starmer

Program Associate, Colombia and Central America

Latin America Working Group

T: 202/546-7010 F: 202/543-7647 estarmer@lawg.org


Latin America Working Group

Action at home for just policies abroad www.lawg.org