Statement on Colombia to the Western
Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House International Relations
September 21, 2000
Thank you for this opportunity to speak. And I would like
the Chairman and the Ranking Member for calling this very
Our relationship with the people of Colombia is about to
change and I hope we know that going into this massive
of US force into that country.
I am especially appreciative of the opportunity to put my
on the record because more than anything else, I care about
most fundamental aspects of human rights and how Plan
affect the human rights climate in Colombia today and the
about the United States that Colombians affected most will
about us after implementation of Plan Colombia.
As citizens of the most powerful nation in the world, it's
duty to ensure that this power is used responsibly and that
not confused when we use it. Bobby Kennedy once said that
to be a force for good in the world. I would like to hope that
around the world still see us as a force for good. However, I
that this is far from the thoughts of the Colombian people
whom I have heard.
Some 80% of the aid in Plan Colombia comes in the form of
This, more properly, should be called a military aid
this meeting must include the military component if we are
grasp the full meaning of the US Role in Implementing Plan
Congress actually voted to fund a counter attack against an
of 20,000 guerrillas in the Amazon jungle. We did this act
without the support of our European allies. The European
not support our involvement of this nature in Colombia. And
we've voted to give approximately one billion dollars to the
military, not very many other donors want to be associated
this kind of contribution.
So, although Plan Colombia was originally intended by
Pastrana to be a multinational aid package, it has now
a US military operation.
About two weeks ago, the Presidents of the twelve Latin
countries met for the first time in a historic summit in
Although it was not the intended theme of the meeting, the
resolved their opposition to the US aid package. Brazil's
Cardoso spoke against it, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez spoke
it. In Ecuador they believe that tens of thousands of
going to spill across the border from the violence this plan is
going to generate. This is what Colombia's neighbors think of
Thirty-seven Colombian NGO's, including the Center for
and Popular Education and the Consortium for Human Rights
Displaced have signed a letter saying they would reject any
offered to them as part of Plan Colombia. They are
to be associated with this program in any way no matter
money they are offered.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the
on Latin America all denounced President Clinton's decision
the human rights conditions that had been placed on the aid
The human rights groups had hoped that by placing such
on the aid, Colombia would be forced to choose between the
weaponry and the dirty war of assassination they are
in. I am extremely disappointed that the Clinton
once again has taken human rights completely off the table
Now there is no incentive whatsoever for Colombia to
military and abandon its paramilitary strategy.
I will also note for the record that the push into southern
which has been described today, violates the Geneva
which prohibit the forced displacement of civilian
a tactic of war.
In the whole world, only the Congo has more displaced
Colombia. At a forum recently sponsored by my office, I
sadly learned that the vast majority of those displaced
are Afro-Latinos. Two-thirds are minors. Only one in eight
to education. One in three has access to health care. These
children suffer from the neglect of the Colombian State and
ignorance of Washington policy makers.
My third and final point is that not only is this plan
it's impractical. Spraying chemicals on third world farmers
an effective way to discourage people in the United States
We are not immune to the lure of quick cocaine cash
As has been made embarrassingly clear recently.
How can Colonel James Hiett, smuggling cocaine and
with his wife while overseeing anti-drug operations for the
Command in Bogota . . . how could this narco get off with
in jail while today there are more African Americans in
So now, the US is about to implement a plan to spray
on third world subsistence farmers and attack them with
gunships while the Colombian government allows
to massacre them.
One thing is for sure in this plan, it isn't about drug abuse
and won't help my friends who are strung out on dope.
I would rather have from the CIA a truthful accounting of
cocaine came to flood every black neighborhood in America
every black family. Telling the truth about the relationships
federal agencies, US multinational banks, and elites in this
and abroad will do more to eradicate the scourge of drugs in
than this proposed Plan Colombia.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.