release by Rep. José Serrano (D-New York), February 6, 2002
IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Dale Crowell
February 6, 2002 (202) 225-4363
CONCERN OVER MILITARIZATION OF COLOMBIA AID
Washington, D.C. (February 6) Congressman José E. Serrano
(D-NY) expressed his concern today over recent proposals made by the Administration
to expand military aid to Colombia. On several previous occasions Serrano
has expressed his explicit opposition to expanded American military involvement
in the countrys longstanding civil war.
Last April, as Secretary of State Powell testified before the Appropriations
Committee, I told him that we could end up militarily involved in Colombia.
I told him that I was afraid that our budget resources would be used in
some sort of military involvement in Colombia. At that time, Secretary
Powell assured me that only half of the funding for the Andean Regional
Initiative would be directed toward counter-narcotic activities. Secretary
Powell said that the other half of the initiative would be directed toward
human rights, democracy-building, law enforcement and building the judiciary
in the Andean region, Serrano stated.
Now it appears
that the Administration is more concerned with building special military
units specifically to protect oil interests in that country. These actions
make me wonder where we are going and it makes me question whether the
Administration understands that they are dragging us into a potential
quagmire, Serrano added.
military assistance to Colombia were only heightened yesterday following
a report released by three leading human rights groups revealing that
Colombias military continues to maintain close ties with paramilitary
This has all
the makings of another Vietnam. Last year I was assured that the U.S.-funded
activities would work to improve the democratic institutions in the country
and to stem narco-trafficking. Now it seems that the focus is shifting,
or expanding, if you will, to include military assistance, but our first
goals havent even been met. These moves worry me and I think that
Congress ought to make sure that our aid does not get us involved in another
war, Serrano concluded.
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As of February 7,
2002, this document was also available online at http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny16_serrano/