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Last Updated:6/25/00
Speech by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), June 21, 2000
AMENDMENT NO. 3528
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 those efforts.

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 their fate.

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 kidnapped men.

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:
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