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Last Updated:2/7/02
Press release by Rep. José Serrano (D-New York), February 6, 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Dale Crowell
February 6, 2002 (202) 225-4363
Dale.Crowell@mail.house.gov

SERRANO EXPRESSES 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 country’s 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.

Concerns regarding military assistance to Colombia were only heightened yesterday following a report released by three leading human rights groups revealing that Colombia’s military continues to maintain close ties with paramilitary organizations.

“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 haven’t 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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Please visit this site for more information:
http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny16_serrano/~list.html

As of February 7, 2002, this document was also available online at http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny16_serrano/
pr_020207_ColombiaAid.html

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