Urgent Colombia Action Alert 7/6/01

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(The following action alert was distributed by the Washington Office on Latin America.)

BACKGROUND: Last year the United States contributed $1.3 billion in mostly military counternarcotics aid to Plan Colombia. Under this policy, the United States is training and arming Colombian troops to secure guerrilla-held territory in the drug-producing region of southern Colombia. Planes then fly over fields of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine, spraying defoliants to destroy the illegal crops.

NEW POLICY PROPOSAL: This year the Bush Administration has proposed an $882 million Andean Regional Initiative, which will continue US support for Plan Colombia while expanding the policy to include Colombia's neighbors and increasing the amount of social and economic aid. Though the proposal reflects some changes compared to last year, it maintains the fundamental flaws of US policy towards Colombia.

CONCERNS ABOUT PROPOSAL: Though the Administration has tried to sell the Initiative as "balanced," it is largely a military package. The proposal continues assistance to the Colombian military despite the risk of drawing the US further into Colombia's brutal civil war and the Colombian military's links to right-wing paramilitary forces that commit the majority of massacres and other human rights abuses in the country. The Initiative would also continue the anti-drug aerial spraying program (known as fumigation) that, in addition to eradicating coca crops, destroys food crops, drives families from their homes, and threatens human health and the environment. Such efforts to combat drugs at the source have proven ineffective, as they merely shift drug production to different regions and countries.

CONGRESSIONAL OUTLOOK: The main opportunities to change the Andean Regional Initiative in Congress will be on votes regarding Colombia. The House Appropriations Committee will debate and vote on a large part of the Initiative on July 10. The full House of Representatives will do the same on July 17. On both dates there will be amendments to cut military aid to Colombia and to suspend aerial spraying programs. The Senate will also take up this legislation in the coming weeks and again in September, when amendments to cut military aid are also expected.

Take action: Please contact your Representative and urge him or her to vote for amendments to cut military aid to Colombia and suspend aerial fumigation. If your Representative is on the attached list of Members on the Appropriations Committee, please contact him or her before July 10; otherwise contact your Representative before July 17. Please also contact your Senators, urge them to support amendments to cut military aid to Colombia, and tell them about your concerns regarding fumigation. For information on contacting your Members of Congress, visit http://www.house.gov and http://www.senate.gov online, or use the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

MORE INFO AND FOLLOW-UP: Please visit http://www.wola.org or http://www.lawg.org or http://www.ciponline.org for further information. If you have any questions or if you learn how your Members of Congress plan to vote, please contact Tina Hodges or Peter Clark of the Washington Office on Latin America at (202) 797-2171 or [email protected].

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:

Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL)
Henry Bonilla (R-TX)
F. Allen Boyd (D-FL)
Sonny Callahan (R-AL)
James Clyburn (D-SC)
Robert "Bud" E. Jr. Cramer (D-AL)
Randy Cunningham (R-CA)
Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
Tom DeLay (R-TX)
Norman Dicks (D-WA)
John Doolittle (R-CA)
Chet Edwards (D-TX)
Jo Ann H. Emerson (R-MO)
Sam Farr (D-CA)
Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Virgil H. Goode (D-VA)
Kay Granger (R-TX)
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
David Hobson (R-OH)
Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD)
Ernest, Jr. Istook (R-OK)
Jesse Jackson (D-IL)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Partick J. Kennedy (D-RI)
Carolyn C. Kilpatrick (D-MI)
Jack Kingston (R-GA)
Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI)
Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)
Ray LaHood (R-IL)
Tom Latham (R-IA)
Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Nita M. Lowey (D-NY)
Carrie Meek (D-FL)
Dan Miller (R-FL)
Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)
James P. Moran (D-VA)
John P. Murtha (D-PA)
George R. Nethercutt (R-WA)
Anne M. Northup (R-KY)
David R. Obey (D-WI)
John W. Olver (D-MA)
Ed Pastor (D-AZ)
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
John E. Peterson (R-PA)
David E. Price (D-NC)
Ralph Regula (R-OH)
Harold Rogers (R-KY)
Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN)
Jose Serrano (D-NY)
Joe Skeen (R-NM)
John E. Sununu (R-NH)
John E. Sweeney (R-NY)
Charles H. Taylor (R-NC)
Todd Tiahrt (R-KS)
Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN)
David Vitter (R-LA)
James T. Walsh (R-NY)
Zach Wamp (R-TN)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Frank R. Wolf (R-VA)
C.W. Bill Young (R-FL)

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Issue #193, 7/6/01 Former British Ambassador to Colombia Defects from Drug War, Calls for Full Legalization | Iran's War on Drugs Turns Increasingly Brutal, Europe Helps | HEA Campaign Seeking Student Victim Cases | Drug Possession No Longer a Crime in Portugal | Health Canada Announces New Medical Marijuana Regulations in Effect as of July 30, Grumbling All Around | British Marijuana Maelstrom Continues: Support for Decriminalization and Legalization Building at Rapid Pace | Urgent Colombia Action Alert | Columbus, Ohio Petitioners Turn in Signatures, De Facto Marijuana Decriminalization Likely to Appear on November Municipal Ballot | DC Rally: 10,000 Gather to Demand Marijuana Legalization in the Nation's Capital, Police Crackdown Thwarted | Government Funded Study Finds Marijuana Use Up Among Young Arrestees, Author Dares to Suggest This Might Be a Good Thing | Other Action Alerts: HEA Drug Provision, John Walters Nomination, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | Resources: European Drug Policy Web Site, Journal of Cognitive Liberties | Salon Scoop: ONDCP TV Script Financial Credit Program Terminated 193/accessworks Minneapolis Job Opportunity: Harm Reduction/Syringe Exchange Program Seeking Executive Director | The Reformer's Calendar
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