by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), July 23, 2003
McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton) and
I are offering an amendment to make modest reductions in military aid
for Colombia, and to transfer those funds to the Child Survival and Health
Programs Fund for programs that combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria,
and other infectious diseases.
provides $4.3 billion in foreign military financing, of which $110 million
is slated to go to the Colombian military. Our amendment reduces that
amount by $35 million.
Counterdrug Initiative is fully funded at $731 million, with at least
$159 million in military aid for the Colombian armed forces. Our amendment
reduces that total by just $40 million.
are modest reductions but, if approved, they will send a powerful message
that Congress believes respect for human rights is essential, that impunity
for high-ranking military officers who commit human rights abuses must
end, and that Congress requires a more defined U.S. plan and exit strategy
will also do a great deal of good.
the chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee for increasing funding
for HIV/AIDS, but the total is still about $1 billion less than the
$3 billion authorized, the amount the President recently promised to
African leaders. Mr. Chairman, $75 million is a modest amount, but every
dollar counts in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria,
and other diseases. $75 million could ensure that 250,000 more people
with HIV/AIDS could receive drug treatment for an entire year. Think
of it. This amendment could literally save the lives of a quarter of
a million people over the course of the next year.
know some of my colleagues are saying, but we cannot pull out of Colombia.
Well, let me be perfectly clear. No one believes more strongly than
I do that the United States must stay engaged in Colombia. I will never
advocate that we walk away from Colombia. But I have serious questions
about the direction of U.S. policy, the goals that have yet to be defined
for our military involvement there, and how we define success or failure
has stated that U.S. policy in Colombia stands at a crossroads, and
I agree. In the past 4 years, we have sent over $3.1 billion to Colombia,
80 percent in military and security assistance. On July 16, the Colombian
government announced it will soon present ``Plan Colombia-Phase II''
and seek substantial U.S. aid increases for 2006 and beyond.
coca production in the Andes has actually increased since Plan Colombia
began, rising from 185,000 hectares in 2000 to 205,400 hectares in 2002,
according to the State Department.
small drop in coca production last year did not even bring its levels
back down to where they were in 2000. And Colombia's decrease is offset
by shifting production back to Bolivia and Peru. That does not seem
to be progress to me.
according to the Justice Department, the availability of cocaine in
the United States actually increased in 2002. So let us not spin ourselves
into thinking our policy is working.
human rights conditions placed on U.S. military aid to Colombia, our
aid continues to flow uninterrupted. We keep writing huge checks, even
though every reputable human rights organization in the world concludes
that the Colombian armed forces directly collaborate with paramilitary
forces. These are the same paramilitary forces responsible for the majority
of human rights abuses against civilians. These are the same paramilitary
forces on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. These
are the same paramilitary forces that President Uribe's own hand-picked
commission determined control at least 40 percent of the drug trade
in Colombia and receive 80 percent of their funding from drug profits.
over the past year, human rights crimes by official Colombian military
police have increased, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human
Rights in Colombia.
where the Colombia military is most present and active are precisely
the areas where official human rights abuses and political violence
have most sharply escalated, according to the Colombian government's
own Inspector General.
Attorney General has dismissed prosecutors who are in charge of investigating
the most serious cases of human rights crimes committed by high-ranking
military officers, closing those cases, and ignoring others.
Instead, the Attorney General is opening new investigations against
Catholic bishops, human rights defenders and community leaders. Impunity
is not only alive and well in Colombia, it is better protected than
when the United States bankrolls a foreign military, then we have a
special obligation not to be indifferent to its human rights record.
We have a special responsibility because this is a reflection on us,
but this Congress has been sending a very disturbing message to the
Colombia military; namely, if you perform poorly, if you violate the
human rights of your own people, do not worry, we will lower our standards
on human rights.
do better. These modest reductions in military aid will not undercut
Colombia's fight against the brutal FARC guerillas, but it could end
up being the most significant message sent by this Congress in support
of human rights and democracy. I urge my colleagues to support the McGovern-Skelton
As of August
6, 2003, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r108:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20030723)