No Military Aid to Colombia - No Fumigation
BACKGROUND. For the past forty years, conflict has smoldered between left-wing guerilla groups and the Colombian armed forces. Increasingly, right-wing paramilitary groups-- often made up of retired armed forces personnel-- have entered the conflict. 35,000 civilians have lost their lives in the conflict since 1990, and thousands more have been displaced from their homes by violence.
US INVOLVEMENT. In the guise of a war on drugs, the United States has become partners with the Colombian armed forces in a counternarcotics campaign that is devastating the country and stepping up the levels of violence on all sides. The two-year, $1.3 billion aid package goes almost entirely to the Colombian military. It also includes money to fund fumigation efforts, in which spray planes drop herbicides on coca farms. While the military and fumigation aid has been flowing since December, the funds for alternative development—which would provide farmers with an opportunity to grow crops other than coca—have yet to be delivered to Colombia.
SAY NO MILITARY AID. WHY? The Colombian armed forces has a history of human rights violations and maintains close ties to paramilitary groups, who are responsible for 78% of political killings in Colombia. Rewarding the armed forces with aid discourages them from making reforms and backing the peace process. It also escalates violence, as guerilla forces step up actions to combat a more powerful army, paramilitaries retaliate, and civilians are caught in the crossfire.
NO TO FUMIGATION. WHY?
Spray planes drop a substance containing the herbicide glyphosate on
farms that cultivate coca, but the herbicide also kills their food crops.
Communities have complained that people, homes, schools, wells, and
livestock are also being fumigated by the spray planes.
Some 12 alternative development projects were fumigated and
destroyed by US-directed fumigation since December 2000.
Sicknesses are being reported in humans, especially children,
and animals after the spraying. Without food, communities must move to new
areas and plant coca to survive.
CURRENT US POLICY IS INEFFECTIVE.
Fumigation penalizes communities without solving the problem of coca
cultivation or the poverty that motivates it.
The problem will not be solved simply by designating more money to fund
alternative development; fumigation must be stopped.
addition to ending fumigation, the United States must rethink its
militarized counternarcotics strategy in Colombia.
Drugs abuse and related violence pose a terrible threat to our
communities, and must be addressed. However,
a military solution does not and will not work.
Funding the Colombian armed forces only steps up the levels of
violence, reversing the work of the negotiated peace process.
the aid package does not help resolve problems of drug abuse and drug violence
in our own country. While supply
may be reduced in Colombia, as long as demand continues, coca cultivation will
simply move to a new area. Meanwhile, addicts in the United States face long
waiting lists for treatment.
last year’s aid package, which was a specific Colombia bill, this year’s
aid to Colombia will be broken up in various appropriations bills, with the
largest share included in the foreign operations bill. It is important that we
write and call our members of Congress NOW to tell them to vote against
any additional aid to the Colombian military or aid for fumigation activities.
There will NOT be a specific Colombia bill.
must tell our members to send our entire drug policy back to the drawing board.
The current drug policy has caused numerous problems abroad, but also
fails on its own terms.
military aid package escalates violence in Colombia, including civilian deaths
and displacement. Since President
Clinton’s package was implemented, paramilitary massacres have skyrocketed.
It does not support the peace process.
Fumigation is not an effective way to eradicate coca.
Thousands of families have been left hungry by fumigation efforts that
kill off their subsistence crops, and must move to other areas to grow coca in
order to survive.
Demand for drugs in the United
States will not be decreased through source-country eradication.
As long as the demand exists, people will move to grow coca in order to
meet that demand.
We must support initiatives that respect human rights and address
social and economic problems in Colombia.
At the same time, we must improve drug treatment and prevention at
members of Congress will vote soon on whether to support President Bush’s
budget request; we must demand now that our tax dollars not be spent
violating human rights in Colombia.
contact your members of Congress, call the Congressional Switchboard at (202)
224-3121 or write:
The Honorable [insert representative] The Honorable [insert senator]
US House of Representatives US Senate
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20510