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Last Updated:3/3/01
Letter from 44 writers and academics to Presidents Bush and Pastrana, February 27, 2001
OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, GEORGE W. BUSH, AND THE PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA, ANDRÉS PASTRANA

We are addressing both of you in order to submit to your consideration a series of specific initiatives for Peace in Colombia. The moment is propitious for putting an end to the oldest armed conflict in the Americas.

Colombia is at the crossroads of some of the major concerns of our times. The narcotics question, environmental threats, arms trafficking, forced migration, diverse forms of terrorism, and the crises born of inequality and profound social strife are problems which affect the entire world. Colombia suffers these tragedies and solving them in a positive manner would mean finding a solution to some of the greatest challenges facing the world today.

It is difficult to find a democracy confronted by such a threatening armed conflict and such a dramatic social situation as that of Colombia. The persistence of this destructive reality has led to the severe deterioration of human rights, built up political polarization, reduced the scope of the country's formal economy, generated an environmental disaster, led the country to a ruinous economic situation, and produced a cultural collapse whose first victims are the state and the principle of legitimacy.

The search for a full-fledged democracy and the real defense of human-rights in Colombia is of crucial historical importance, and to this end, the country's patterns of exclusion must be overcome, and creditable economic and social solutions as well as worthy cultural processes must be found and developed. Colombia's crisis furthermore requires the international community's solidarity in order to facilitate and promote a political solution to the armed conflict and to lay the foundations needed to truly rebuild the country. In order to strengthen and consolidate the country's democracy, international cooperation and co-responsibility must be effectively applied and the narcotics issue needs to be reviewed. It is essential to reach a consensus regarding the existing relationship between the United States and Colombia with the aim of guaranteeing greater pluralism, a more thorough analysis of the complexity of the situation, and a balanced resolution of the drug dilemma, so as to solve these problems and not merely displace them.

Fully aware of the key role played by the Presidents of the United States and Colombia in this crucial historical juncture and of the importance of the upcoming meeting, we earnestly request Presidents Bush and Pastrana to jointly:

1. Propose that the UN Secretary General create a Study Commission geared towards analyzing and shedding light on the nature of Colombia's current crisis. This Commission, in addition to experts of international standing, should include those sectors which are presently enduring and suffering the country's crisis, representatives of the military establishment and of the guerrilla groups, and independent academics and analysts -who have been intimidated into silence- so that their recommendations serve as a basic framework towards achieving a political solution to the country's crisis.
2. Create a Binational Commission in order to build upon the positive aspects of the bilateral agenda, to establish genuine consultation and coordination mechanisms concerning crucial peace and reconciliation issues, and to study the ways and means by which effective economic, social and cultural cooperation can contribute to the attainment of peace in Colombia.
3. Schedule an International Drug Summit that would rethink the hemispheric struggle against narcotics and organized crime along firm, credible and legitimate grounds.
4. Reevaluate the forceful chemical eradication strategy. There is ample evidence demonstrating that there are effective means of reducing illicit crop cultivation which involve less risk to human health and environment.
5. Respond positively to recent initiatives proposed by the European Union on Colombia, as well as to the "Appeal for Colombia" launched by prominent Europeans, and in particular to the proposal regarding the need to hold a comprehensive International Conference on the country.
6. Conscientiously take into consideration the cultural components of the Colombian crisis and the central role that education and culture must necessarily play in eliminating inequality, privilege and exclusion; in forming a community that embodies the principles of solidarity and dignity; in strengthening a citizenry that would relegitimate democracy; and in arriving at a renewed relationship of each and every Colombian citizen with the realm of law and order and the meaning of the public domain.
7. Promote a joint diplomatic initiative on the part of countries such as Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, so that, together with the cooperation of the United States and the European Union, they can advance a negotiated solution to Colombia's armed conflict.

We reaffirm our belief regarding the urgent need for the Presidents of Colombia and the United States to take concerted and committed actions. The historical task of bridging paths of greatness and generosity to surmount the Colombian tragedy is in your hands.
Signatarios Iniciales / Initial Signers
Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia),
Eric J. Hobsbawm (Inglaterra),
Ernesto Sabato (Argentina)
William Ospina (Colombia)
Juan Gabriel Tokatlián (Argentina)
Gonzalo Sánchez (Colombia)
Enrique Santos (Colombia)
Daniel Pecaut (Francia)
Tomás Eloy Martínez (Argentina)
Alfredo Molano (Colombia)
Ernst Tugendhat (Alemania)
Catherine LeGrand (Canada)
J.Michel Blanquer (Francia)
Francisco Santos (Colombia)
Eduardo Pizarro (Colombia)
Michiel Baud (Holanda),
Rodrigo Pardo (Colombia)
Wolf Grabendorff (Alemania)
Daniel Samper (Colombia)
Malcolm Deas (Inglaterra)
Jaime Abello (Colombia)
Fernando Uricoechea (Colombia)
Antanas Mockus (Colombia)
Ana Carrigan (Irlanda )
Daniel García-Peña (Colombia)
Jonathan Hartlyn (Estados Unidos)
Maria Emma Mejía.(Colombia)
Joanne Rappaport (Estados Unidos)
Fernando Cepeda (Colombia)
Franscisco Leal (Colombia)
Alvaro Camacho (Colombia)
Juan Carlos Flórez Arcila (Colombia)
Cecilia Lopez Caballero (Colombia)
Salomón Kalmanovitz (Colombia),
Marco Palacios (Colombia),
Bruce Bagley (Estados Unidos)
Jorge Orlando Melo (Colombia)
Scott Manwaring (Estados Unidos)
Alejo Vargas (Colombia),
Luis Jorge Garay (Colombia)
Helen Safa (Estados Unidos)
Juan.Manuel.Ospina (Colombia)
Juan Sebastián Betancur (Colombia)
Juan Carlos Botero (Colombia)

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