by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), June 21, 2000
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, S. 2522 contains $934.1 million for Plan Colombia,
a counternarcotics initiative. A portion of that is earmarked for the investigations
of human rights abuses. Certainly a part of the drug culture that this bill
is attempting to address is the abduction of individuals by paramilitary
groups who either hold their hostages for ransom or use the abduction as
a means of intimidation against law enforcement. Frequently we hear of witnesses,
prosecutors and judges being taken from their homes, offices or off the
street in broad daylight in an attempt to stop the prosecution of drug kingpins.
However, innocent civilians, not involved in the war on drugs, are targets
as well. The amendment I am introducing addresses the latter.
My colleagues may not be aware
but currently there are three American citizens who are being held hostage
by FARC, a narco-guerilla group in Colombia. Many have been involved in
obtaining their release but the 7 plus years of their captivity has complicated
On the evening of January
31, 1993, a group of armed guerrillas entered the village of Pucuro Panama.
Once control of the village had been secured, the guerrillas went to the
homes of the Mankins, Riches, Tenenoffs, three missionary families with
New Tribes Mission who were invited to live in Pucuro by village leaders
to teach reading and writing and provide medical care to villagers. David
Mankins, Mark Rich and Rick Tenenoff were tied up and their wives instructed
to prepare small packages of clothing for them. The guerrillas then forced
the men toward a trail that leads to the Colombian border.
Shortly after the kidnaping,
FARC made contact with New Tribes Mission, claimed credit for the abduction
and demanded a $5 million ransom. The mission refused to pay the ransom
and shortly thereafter contact ceased. Since then there has been many
rumors and reports, but not proof on their whereabouts.
David Mankins, Mark Rich and
Rick Tenenoff have the dubious distinction of being the longest held American
hostages. Their families have lived the last 7 years without knowing whether
they are dead or alive.
My amendment condemns the
kidnaping; urges members of the European Community to assist in the safe
return of these men by including in any dialogue with them the objectives
of the safe return of these missionaries; and appeals to the United Nations
Commission to pressure FARC to resolve this situation.
I am proposing this amendment
for a couple reasons: first, FARC has aggressively courted a dialogue
with several in the European community. In fact, I understand that in
the upcoming weeks there will be representatives of FARC in Europe looking
for support of their `revolution.' I fear any recognition would be viewed
as legitimizing the illegal and cowardly activities of FARC and thereby
compound efforts to either gain release of these Americans to learn of
Secondly, Dr. Larry Maxwell
of Patterson Baptist Church in Patterson, New York has begun a 240 mile
walk to Washington, D.C. to bring attention to the tragic situation of
these families. Dr. Maxwell will culminate his walk at the Capitol this
coming Monday, June 26th, where he will be joined by the families of the
I urge my colleagues to support
this amendment because these American citizens can easily be forgotten
and we must not do that. Dave, Mark and Rick needs our prayers and their
families need to know that their loved ones have not been abandoned. Finally,
we need to encourage all those who have worked during the last 7 years
to bring an end to this horrific ordeal to continue their effort.
As of June 25, 2000, this document
was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:S21JN0-228: