U.S. Advocacy & Policy
An important part of finding peace in Colombia is changing U.S. policy from one dominated by guns and military training to a focus on aiding the more than three millions civilians displaced from their homes and supporting negotiations to end the war. The FOR participates in national efforts that seek to change U.S. policy.
U.S. Involvement in Colombia
Since 2000, the United States has spent more than $5.5 billion on "Plan Colombia," as part of the "drug war" 80% of it military aid, which has greatly escalated the war in Colombia. Because of this funding, Colombia receives the most U.S. military aid after Israel and Egypt. Support of the escalation has been bipartisan, and the Bush administration has continued this approach, disguising a bloody counterinsurgency as a war on drugs and introducing enormous increases in military aid to neighboring countries. Since the September 11th attacks, terrorism has been included as a second focus for US military aid.
FOR and Amnesty International-USA have produced a report (download it here) on extrajudicial killings committed by Colombian army brigades financed by the United States, product of research by both organizations. The report reviews US law regulating military assistance, includes extensive data on US-trained army units, violations, maps, analyzes the extent of army killings in areas of US-supported brigades, and includes recommendations to US policy makers.
Last chance to apply!
July 24 to August 2, 2010
Last fall, the governments of Colombia and the United States signed an agreement to grant the Pentagon use of seven military bases on Colombian soil. The agreement bolstered the United States' military presence in the Andean region at a time when progressive movements in Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia struggle to reorganize their societies more equally, and victims of Colombia's dirty war demand accountability. It also intensified the contentious mix of militarism and free trade that has characterized U.S. Latin American policy.
DAS-CIA Operation to Spy on South American Embassies
By Susana Pimiento
On May 4, the Colombian Senate held a special hearing on the illegal activities of the Colombian intelligence Agency (DAS). Such activities have included not only illegal surveillance, but a series of acts that amount to State terrorism, such as death threats, kidnappings, harassment of children, blackmailing and framing of Supreme Court Justices, opposition leaders, journalists and human rights defenders. DAS even created a manual that instructed agents how to threaten the children of their targets.
by John Lindsay-Poland
The United States continues to assist Colombian military units that have reportedly violated human rights, a review of recently released State Department documents shows. FOR obtained the list of 353 Colombian military and police units that the United States approved for aid in 2008-09 and 2009-10. US law requires the State Department to review all foreign military units proposed for assistance and exclude those with histories of gross human rights abuses.
According to US officials who spoke to FOR, military aid this year is concentrated in three geographic “bands”: in a long band across southern Colombia, from Meta, Tolima and Huila departments – where the Army-FARC war is focused – west to Buenaventura on the Pacific coast; in the southwestern state of Nariño; and in the northern Montes de Maria area.
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 "C" Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary of State Clinton,
The FY 2011 budget will contain the twelfth year of a major aid package to Colombia-an aid package originally slated to phase out after six years. We believe there remains strong bipartisan support for generous levels of continued assistance to Colombia. We also believe that this is the right moment to take stock and reconfigure both aid and diplomacy to that nation.
As you determine the future of U.S. policy towards Colombia and the assistance package to support that policy, some troubling trends on human rights, democracy and the humanitarian situation in Colombia should be of concern. The 2002-2006 demobilization of paramilitary groups has produced important gains, such as a reduction of massacres. But remaining and newly formed groups terrorize civilian populations, and threats, intimidation, and assassinations continue. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, "Regardless of the way they characterize themselves, the violence generated by the illegal armed groups that have emerged since the paramilitary demobilization cannot be considered mere criminal behavior. Their offences . . . produce an alarming level of violence against the civilian population."
Bases deal “presents enormous dangers for entire hemisphere”
Over one hundred religious, national, community organizations and leaders and academics today called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “suspend negotiations for expanded U.S. military access or operations in Colombia,” a plan that has generated a swell of protest among Latin American countries, including Colombia, the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the hemisphere.
Resources about US Military Bases in Colombia/Recursos sobre bases militares estadounidenses en ColombiaColombia Conflict | U.S. Advocacy & Policy
Current Negotiations/Negociaciones actuales