This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Last Updated:5/22/02
"Dear Colleague" letter from Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts) and Ike Skelton (D-Missouri), May 22, 2002

Vote YES on McGovern-Skelton

Dear Colleague:

The Supplemental Appropriations bill that we will debate in the House this week contains a very troubling expansion of the U.S. role in Colombia. The bill contains provisions that would broaden the involvement of U.S. military equipment and personnel beyond the counter-narcotics effort to counter-terrorism. But in Colombia, counter-terrorism means counter-insurgency.

We believe that these provisions would draw the United States more deeply into the grinding, violent civil war that has plagued Colombia for nearly 4 decades. There are several serious problems with this approach:

  • The majority of U.S. assistance to Colombia goes to the Colombian armed forces, which continue to maintain ties to paramilitary groups that are listed on the State Department terrorist list;
  • Our military is already stretched thin by commitments elsewhere in the world. These commitments are stressing our troops and resources beyond what is prudent, even before an open-ended, additional commitment to Colombia.
  • Colombian officials recently acknowledged that $2 million in U.S. assistance had been embezzled by members of the Colombian government;
  • Expanding our role in Colombia is a major change in U.S. policy. Such a change deserves to be considered and debated on its own terms, not within the context of an emergency supplemental appropriations bill;
  • The failure of the Colombian government to adequately support its own war effort. American troops and resources should not be used as proxies.
  • Our counter-narcotics policy in Colombia has not worked. Indeed, coca production in Colombia has risen by 25% since Plan Colombia was instituted.
  • The Department of Defense Authorization Bill that the House recently approved allows the Secretary of Defense to waive the cap on the number of U.S. military personnel stationed in Colombia. We believe that more U.S. personnel plus broader involvement equals bad policy.

As a result, we will be offering amendments to the Supplemental that would strike these provisions. Our amendments would eliminate the broadening of our involvement into counter-insurgency, but maintain language that allows U.S. personnel and equipment to participate in humanitarian aid, including rescue operations.

We hope you will support our efforts to prevent an unwarranted, ill-advised expansion of the U.S. role in Colombia's civil war.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Cindy Buhl or Michael Mershon with Rep. McGovern (5-6101); or George Withers or Jim Schweiter with Mr. Skelton (5-4158).


s/: Jim McGovern s/: Ike Skelton
Member of Congress Member of Congress

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