by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-New York), May 23, 2002
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr.
Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
I heard the gentleman
from Florida a few moments ago talk about the importance of debate and
democracy, and of course, that is very true.
And of course that is very true. But the essence of democracy is the ability
to vote, and we are being deprived of the ability to vote. That is what
democracy is all about. Let us have some votes on some of these issues.
I also want to take
this opportunity to express my deep respect for the gentleman from Arizona.
He is a true humanitarian. I have had an opportunity to observe that firsthand.
But the policy that we are arguing about in this bill is contrary to that.
We are in the process of getting ourselves into a very deep mess in Colombia.
We have already gone too far. But now we are being asked to go even further.
As we learned just
a few moments ago from the gentleman from Massachusetts, Colombia's own
contribution to its military is limited. It spends less than 2 percent
of its gross domestic product on the military, and recruits with high
school degrees are exempted from serving in combat. High inequality, gaping
urban-rural divisions and government abandonment of poor populations underlie
this decades-old conflict in Colombia. U.S. military aid, as we are being
asked to provide now, is only going to make this problem worse, reinforcing
the inequities that exist in Colombia between the educated and the noneducated,
between the poor and the rich.
There is already
evidence that the United States aid has not made a dent in the drug war.
In fact, things have worsened recently. Coca production rose by 25 percent
last year. Killings of civilians rose from 14 per day in 1999 to 20 per
day in 2002; 300,000 civilians were forcibly displaced last year. Most
recently, on May 2, 117 innocent civilians were killed in the crossfire
of the FARC and the United Self-Defense Forces, the AUC. While seeking
safety in a church, these people were slaughtered. The Colombian military
did nothing to ensure their safety, in spite of numerous calls for help.
According to human
rights groups, 85 percent of Colombia's political killings and so-called
disappearances and 76 percent of all civilian massacres were committed
by the illegal paramilitary groups like the United Self-Defense Forces,
which has extensive links with the Colombian military. Despite this, since
1997, 80 percent of U.S. aid to Colombia has been given to the military
forces. It makes absolutely no sense to send aid to a military that works
with a terrorist group.
If we are really
interested in helping Colombia, we should support its civil institutions
and effectively implement alternative development programs to support
the rural communities which are most adversely affected by the war. We
must continue to provide humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons,
especially the Afro- Colombian community. We must demand the Colombian
military break ties with the paramilitaries.
We must also recognize
that our counternarcotics efforts in Colombia have failed to curb domestic
drug abuse here in the United States. Instead of aiding and abetting a
civil war, we should be spending more money at home on drug treatment
and prevention programs to reduce the demand for drugs here in the United
States. It is by dealing with the demand side of this problem that we
will reach a solution to it. We are never going to reach a solution by
focusing all of our attention and energies only on the supply side. Administration
after administration has failed in that regard.
Let us not allow
U.S. forces to be deployed anywhere in the world under this undefined
global war on terrorism. We are being asked over and over again to provide
military aid and assistance, to send our troops to places far away, dispersed
in the so-called war on terrorism, a war that has not been defined by
the administration. We do not know who the enemy is precisely. We do not
know who we are fighting. Nevertheless, we are asked to spends billions
of dollars on this ill defined, unclear, vague war on terrorism and send
our military people out there to do the fighting. It is a serious mistake.
I urge my colleagues
to support this McGovern-Skelton amendment before we send more money to
known human rights violators and become enmeshed even more deeply in a
brutal civil war on the side of the oppressors and against the oppressed.
As of June 19, 2002,
this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20020523)