U.S. Advocacy & Policy
by F.O.R. staff, 28 January 2007
The United States gives military training to more Colombians than any other country in the hemisphere â€“ about 10,000 a year. A law known as the Leahy Law (named after Senator Patrick Leahy, who authored it) requires the State Department to investigate, or â€œvet,â€ every unit receiving this military training and exclude those with a history of human rights abuses. Not surprisingly, the vetting operation in Colombia is one of the largest in the world.
Although State Department policy is to require vetting of individuals chosen for military training, as well as units, responses to Freedom of Information Act requests to the Special Operations Command, responsible for the large majority of military training for Colombia, as well as State Department officials, indicate that no vetting of the large majority of individual Colombian military students has occurred.
"Land and Life" is ACA's quarterly newsletter which analyzes current conditions in Colombia's agrarian struggles. Translated by FOR staff
Edition #2: May, 2006
THE CAMPESINOS AND OTHER VICTIMS OF THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
The lies the Colombian Government uses to sell us the FTA
In order to speak publicly about the theme of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the Uribe administration used its best strategy to say one thing and to do another. All the time they assured the public that they would not sign the agreements if they did not obtain a negotiation favourable to all sectors of our economy, but in the end, they have signed the FTA almost under the same terms that were proposed by the North American negotiators, which has now paved the way for loss, not only for companies but for entire sectors of the national economy.
Talks in Colombia Note Alleged Abuses Of Human Rights
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 26, 2006; Page A18
BOGOTA, Colombia, Oct. 25 -- Beyond the hearty handshakes, a high-level U.S. delegation that visited here this week raised concerns with President Ãlvaro Uribe's government about human rights abuses by the army and about the scandal-plagued effort to disarm paramilitary groups.
R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, led 15 Bush administration officials from six agencies for meetings with virtually every top Colombian ministry. In reiterating support for Uribe, whose government receives more U.S. assistance than any country outside the Middle East, Burns told the Colombians that Washington would continue providing about $600 million a year through 2008 for programs from aerial fumigation of drug crops to training of the army.
The FOR recently obtained two documents produced by the US State Department that list 235 Colombian military units in the Colombian military and 28 police units that have been screened for US assistance, and units that are using US helicopters. (To see the documents, a map of the units, and comments, click here)
The documents show that the US has cleared for assistance the command staff of the Armyâ€™s Seventh Division, which includes several brigades with a history of reported abuses. Paramilitaries operated freely in the jurisdiction of the 11th Brigade, which the United States has cleared for direct support according to the document.
The Honorable Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice
Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madam Secretary,
We are writing to ask you to refrain from certifying that the Colombia government meets the human rights conditions included in P.L.108-447 and P.L. 109-102, the Foreign Operations Appropriations Acts for FY2005 and FY2006, until the Colombian Army's 17th Brigade improves its human rights practices. We also believe that certification requires more substantial progress in prosecuting a number of other outstanding cases involving allegations of gross human rights violations involving members of the Colombian army, including the killing of three trade union leaders in Arauca, the killing of a family in Cajamarca, and the Mapiripan massacre. In addition, since the inception of Plan Colombia, Congress has approved and President Bush has signed into law a requirement that the Colombian government prosecute key cases of alleged human rights abuses by members of Colombia military.
Statement by Joe DeRaymond at his sentencing hearing for trespassing at Fort Benning during the School of the Americas protest, November 2005
I have pleaded "not guilty" to the charge of trespassing on the Fort Benning military base, I plea I would like to reaffirm at this time.
I believe the ruling of this Court regarding our right to a jury trial is incorrect. [To this argument the Judge stated that jury trials would take months, and would be too cumbersome, to which I replied, "Justice is cumbersome, Your Honor."] I believe the ruling of this Court regarding the affirmative defenses based on national and international law, related to our duty to protest and oppose the commission of crimes against humanity, is incorrect. I believe I have been denied the right to a fair trial.