Increased US military involvement will exacerbate the failures of Plan Colombia:
Letter from US Congress Members to President Obama

Lunes 28 de septiembre de 2009, por Prensa - Colectivo

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On August 15, 2009, a group of US congress members, led by the representatives Tammy Baldwin, James McGovern and Jan Schakowsky, sent a letter to President Obama in which they expressed their discrepancy with the military agreement between Bogotá and Washington concerning seven Colombian military bases that will soon have the presence of US military personnel.

In the letter, the 16 congress members “urge caution regarding any increase in U.S. military aid to and presence in Colombia due to concerns that increased U.S. military involvement will exacerbate the failures of Plan Colombia.”

Furthermore, they express concern for the abuses reported by human rights organizations on the Colombian military’s involvement in extrajudicial murders, disappearances, and displacement, among other human rights violations.

According to the congress members, “increased U.S. military presence in Colombia will continue to overemphasize funding to Colombia’s armed forces rather than needed development and rule of law efforts.
— 

Congress of the United States

Washington, DC 20515

September 15, 2009

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

It is our understanding that the U.S. and Colombia are in negotiations to increase U.S. access to an expanded network of Colombian military bases to support counter-narcotics efforts. We write to urge caution regarding any increase in U.S. military aid to and presence in Colombia due to concerns that increased U.S. military involvement will exacerbate the failures of Plan Colombia.

Between fiscal years 2000 and 2008, the United States provided over $6 billion in military and nonmilitary assistance to Colombia as part of Plan Colombia. This funding supported the eradication of coca and opium poppy crops, the interdiction of narcotics shipments, and the training and material support for Colombia’s security forces. U.S. assistance also supported alternative crop development to give coca and opium poppy farmers alternative sources of income.

Despite the billions of dollars spent by the U.S., Plan Colombia has not succeeded. According to a GAO report released in October 2008 (GAO-09-71), "Plan Colombia’s goal of reducing the cultivation, processing, and distribution of illegal narcotics by targeting coca cultivation has not been achieved." In fact, according to the report, coca cultivation and cocaine production have increased in Colombia.

In addition to serious questions about the value of eradication efforts, we have strong concerns about human rights violations perpetrated by the Colombian military. Human rights organizations have documented Colombia’s military involvement with illegal paramilitary groups that on many occasions carried out extra judicial murders, disappearances, and displacement of Colombian peasants, Afro-Colombians and indigenous peoples. For example, Amnesty International found that, between June 2006 and June 2007, at least 280 civilians were extra-judicially killed by Colombian security forces and that many of them were subsequently presented by those forces as guerrillas killed in conflict [1]. The Colombia Support Network has documented literally hundreds of incidents of abuse by the Colombian Army over the past three years, [2] and according to Human Rights Watch, the Colombian Armed Forces engaged in "systematic killings of civilians" and the Colombian Attorney General’s Office (La Fiscalia) is investigating cases involving more than 1,700 alleged victims. [3]

In the recent summit of the Union of South American Nations, called expressly to address Colombia’s military agreement with the United States, every other nation in the region except for Peru expressed serious concern about the terms of the agreement and the manner in which it was negotiated. This pact threatens to make your efforts to re-engage with our neighbors in the hemisphere on terms of mutual respect much more difficult.

These failures of Plan Colombia underscore our concern that increased U.S. military presence in Colombia will continue to overemphasize funding to Colombia’s armed forces rather than needed development and rule of law efforts. We hope you will exercise caution in negotiating any increase in U.S. military aid to and presence in Colombia.

Sincerely,

Tammy Baldwin
Member of Congress

James P. McGovern
Member of Congress

Jan Schakowsky
Member of Congress

Russ Feingold
Senator

Raúl Grijalva
Member of Congress

Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

George Miller
Member of Congress

José E. Serrano
Member of Congress

Lynn Woolsey
Member of Congress

Rush Holt
Member of Congress

Chaka Fattah
Member of Congress

Pete Stark
Member of Congress

James L. Oberstar
Member of Congress

Keith Ellison
Member of Congress

Bob Filner
Member of Congress

Dennis Kucinich
Member of Congress

Cc: The Honorable Hillary Clinton
The Honorable Robert Gates

Letter to Obama

Afiliaciones

Afiliado a la Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos
y la Organización Mundial contra la Tortura
Estatus Consultivo en la OEA

José Alvear Restrepo

Nace en Medellín el 1 de julio de 1913 en el seno de una familia de profundas convicciones religiosas y bajo los parámetros de la ideología del partido conservador. Realiza sus estudios en la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Antioquia, donde se gradúa de Abogado con una brillante tesis titulada: "Conflictos del trabajo: la huelga"

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