Dear All – It is very good to be back from my trip to Colombia. I visited with a community in Debeiba who was displaced in 1997 from their land and suffer ongoing human rights violations due to the presence in their community of Colombian military, paramiltary forces and guerillas. They shared their stories and dreams as we visited the land that had been stolen from them over ten years ago.
Also while I was in Colombia the announcement of a new military agreement between the U.S. and Colombia was announced. This agreement allows for increased access of U.S. soldiers to seven military bases as well as additional weapons, training and overall military aid. The people of Colombia are deeply concerned about this agreement and fear it will only serve to increase the level of violence within their own country.
I am including an action and a link. The action is to encourage your Reps to sign onto a “Dear Colleague” letter asking Secretary Hillary Clinton to reconsider this effort of the U.S. in Colombia.
The link is a brief video clip of me speaking with the Colombian press about the bases. The link is a little hard to hear because they are translating my English to Spanish, however the heart of what I said was no more military aid! Let us move toward humanitarian solutions that empower the people of Colombia and in particular the victims of the violence that exists there.
In Much Peace and Solidarity – Liz
As of Friday, Representatives McGovern, Schakowsky, Payne and Honda are circulating a letter throughout the halls of Congress addressed to Secretary of State Clinton with a clear message: let’s spend our taxpayer dollars on supporting victims of violence, not funding military abuses.
This letter is a chance to get Congress behind the changes we want to see and an opportunity for our government to stand by our brothers and sisters in Colombia. We need your support to give the letter the power it needs.
Take action today to ensure we get at least 70 representatives to sign on to it in the next two weeks, before it is sent out to Secretary Clinton. The letter makes a strong case for why there is no time to waste in changing our policies towards Colombia. It paints a vivid picture of the Colombian government’s failure to protect human rights, raising issues like the killing of civilians by the army, the persecution of human rights defenders, and the humanitarian crisis of over four million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Echoing what we have been saying for a long time, it demands a cut in military aid and an increase in support for victims and those who are working for peace and justice in Colombia.
It also calls for an end to harmful and ineffective aerial fumigations, suggesting that we invest instead in creating more drug treatment centers in the United States to do our part by decreasing the demand for illicit substances. Now is the time for faithful action for a sustainable peace in Colombia. Please help ensure that your congressional representative signs on. Call your Rep. today! If you don’t know who your representative is go to go to http://www.congress.org/ and type in your zip code to find out who your Rep is and get in touch.
When you call, ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. If he or she is not available, leave a voicemail message. An example is provided below:
“I am a constituent calling to encourage Representative ____________ to sign on to the Dear Colleague letter written by Representatives McGovern, Schakowsky, Payne, and Honda, which calls for change in U.S. policy towards Colombia. This letter to Secretary of State Clinton asks that our government be honest about the human rights conditions in Colombia and make changes in the aid package.
The U.S. should stop spending taxpayer dollars on the military, which has been found to be killing innocent civilians and illegally wiretapping human rights defenders, journalists, and Supreme Court judges.Instead, we should be supporting refugees and displaced people, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, and small farmers who are trying to turn away from coca. And we also need to invest in drug treatment centers here at home.
I strongly urge Representative ______ to take a stand for human rights and sign on to this letter today. To get a copy of the letter and to sign on, please contact Cindy Buhl in Rep. McGovern’s office. Thank you.”