by Rep. John Joseph Moakley (D-Massachusetts), March 29, 2000
Mr. MOAKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank my dear friend and colleague, the gentleman
from Florida (Mr. Goss), for yielding me the customary 30 minutes, and I
yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, there are a lot
of reasons to oppose this supplemental appropriations bill, one of the
most important is the innocent people of Colombia. This bill will provide
$1.3 billion to a military with one of the worst human rights' records
in that hemisphere, the Colombian military, over which neither the Colombian
government nor the United States Armed Forces have much control.
Mr. Speaker, we have been
here before. Maybe not all of my colleagues remember El Salvador, but
I do. The Colombian military has strong ties to paramilitaries which commit
unspeakable atrocities. The Salvadoran military had strong ties to death
squads which used intimidation, torture, and murder to do the dirty work
of the Salvadoran army.
They say this is very different.
They say there is a president in Colombia who is determined to stand up
to the military and the drug leaders. Maybe so, Mr. Speaker, but in El
Salvador we had two presidents, both of them were educated at Jesuit universities,
one at Georgetown and one at Notre Dame, and they were determined to do
the same. The fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that in both El Salvador and
Colombia the government has very little control over the military.
Both countries were embroiled
in a brutal civil war. Colombia's Civil War has already cost 30,000 lives
in the last 10 years. El Salvador's civil war killed 75,000 noncombatants
over a period of 10 years. Let me repeat, Mr. Speaker: The civil war in
El Salvador, funded by the United States of America, killed 75,000 noncombatants.
Twenty years ago, Mr. Speaker,
we were in the exact same situation that we are today. Twenty years ago
we had a choice to make, Mr. Speaker, and we made the wrong choice. Today,
the answer is clear. We must oppose this aid to a murderous Colombian
military with a list of human rights' violations a mile long.
Now, just listen to a few
of them. Just last January, Colombian paramilitaries, with ties to the
Army, dragged 27 worshipers out of a church and shot them in cold blood.
From January 7 to January 10 last year, paramilitaries committed 19 separate
massacres, leaving 143 people dead and hundreds more displaced from their
homes. And just last month, Mr. Speaker, paramilitaries linked to the
Colombian army danced and drank as they tortured, as they beheaded, at
least 28 villagers in northern Colombia.
Yet today, Mr. Speaker, the
House is considering a $1.3 billion military aid package for military
aid, training, helicopters, and arms to that very same military. I am
reminded of a letter that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero wrote to
President Carter 20 years ago today begging him, in the interest of human
rights, to stop the military aid to El Salvador. One month later, 20 years
ago, Bishop Romero was murdered by a Salvadoran military death squad as
he was saying mass.
Downstairs in my office hangs
a picture of Archbishop Romero. Every day I look at it and every day I
remember the grievous wrongs our country did helping to perpetuate those
killings in his country. Mr. Speaker, let us not remember the 20th anniversary
of Archbishop Romero by making the same mistakes in Colombia.
I have stood at the place
where the Jesuits were killed, where their brains were splattered on a
wall, blood all over the ground, and I just cannot stand by and watch
our country do to Colombia what we did to El Salvador. The administration
is wrong and my Republican colleagues are wrong. We are endangering thousands
more lives in El Salvador, in Colombia. It should not be done. I would
think the United States should have learned its lesson by now.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues
to oppose the military aid to Colombia.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the
balance of my time.
As of March 30, 2000, this
document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H29MR0-91: