No More Military Aid to Colombia
Fred Hirsch, Santa Cruz Sentinel (3/24/02)
The Bush Administration is asking Congress to open the floodgates on U.S.involvement in the Colombian civil war. This willingness to embroil theU.S. in a Vietnam-like scenario, is the scariest news yet. Bush proposes to end human rights restrictions and lift the limit on U.S. military personnel in the country. The plan also includes elimination of longstanding rules restricting U.S. military assistance to counter narcotics action and adds $35 million for counterinsurgency.
Many members of Congress want an end to violence in Colombia. Additional military aid will neither end violence nor protect innocent civilians. Colombia's military maintains close ties with paramilitary groups which are on the U.S. terrorist list. They commit upwards of 70% of civilian killings in Colombia. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released a report in February proving the human rights situation in Colombia is worse today than a year ago when it was the worst in the hemisphere.
This civil war has been going on for over 40 years with no end in sight. A political solution is the only way out for the Colombian people. U.S. support for a negotiated peace process with the guerrilla groups and real pressure on the Colombian government to break ties with the paramilitaries will do more to protect civilians than any military strategy.