by Rep. James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), July 24, 2001
Chairman, I just want to make one point. The reason why our amendment does
not specify military aid is because the amendment would have been ruled
out of order. I am sure somebody on that side would have called a point
of order against it. We would have been legislating on an appropriations
Under the gentleman's
argument, the entire $676 million Andean counter-drug package could be
utilized for military aid in Colombia. Our legislative intent is being
made clear by this debate. We do not want $100 million to go to the military
of Colombia, because we are sick and tired of their continued collaborations
with paramilitary groups.
The reason why we
are moving this amendment forward, quite frankly, is because this Congress
has not been clear, this administration, and, to be fair, the previous
administration, has not been clear, about standing up for human rights.
If we do not make it clear now by sending a strong signal to the military
of Colombia that we want them to sever all ties with the paramilitaries
now, then I do not know what we can do to make that case.
So that is what the
intent of this amendment is, and that is why we did not specify the word
``military'' in this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I include
the following in the RECORD:
[From Amnesty International,
Colombia: Military Links to Paramilitary Groups Persist
In early 2001, Colombia's
human rights crisis has continued to deepen against a background of a
spiraling armed conflict. The parties to the conflict are intensifying
their military actions throughout the country in campaigns characterized
by gross and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian
law. The principal victims of political violence continue to be civilians,
in particular peasant farmers living in disputed areas, human rights defenders,
journalists, judicial officials, teachers, trade unionists and leaders
of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities. Violations of international
humanitarian law by armed opposition groups increased significantly in
2000. These groups deliberately and arbitrarily killed several hundred
people, including judicial officials, local politicians and journalists.
In 2000, more than 4,000 individuals were victims of political killings,
over 300 ``disappeared'', and an estimated 300,000 civilians were internally
displaced. Armed opposition groups and paramilitary organizations kidnapped
at least 1,500 people.
groups--operating with the tacit or active support of the Colombian armed
forces--carry out the majority of Colombia's political killings, many
through massacres of four or more people. In contrast to their declared
aim to combat guerrilla forces, paramilitary groups continued to target
the civilian population through massacres, torture, the destruction of
communities and the displacement of the population. The government has
taken little effective action to curtail, much less to end, widespread
and systematic paramilitary atrocities, despite repeated promises to dismantle
paramilitary forces. The armed forces have failed to attack or dismantle
paramilitary bases, the majority of which are located in close proximity
to army and police bases. Collusion between the Colombian security forces--particularly
the army--and paramilitary groups continues and, indeed, strengthened
in 2000. Instances of collaboration include the sharing of intelligence
information, the transfer of prisoners, the provision of ammunition by
the armed forces to the paramilitary, and joint patrols and military operations
in which serious human rights violations are committed.
Given the Colombian security forces' poor human rights record and their
on-going collaboration with illegal paramilitary groups, Amnesty International
opposes military aid to Colombia. Our opposition will continue until concrete
steps are taken to systematically address these issues. Until then, military
aid will only contribute to a deteriorating human rights situation and
could strengthen specific units which collaborate with paramilitary groups.
USA recommends that
The House of Representatives
pass an amendment to cut military aid to Colombia from the Foreign Operations
strong human rights conditions excluding a national security waiver on
any aid approved for Colombia;
Congress and the
Administration urge the Government of Colombia to sever ties between the
Colombian military and illegal paramilitary groups, capture and prosecute
paramilitary leaders, and dismantle paramilitary bases; and
Congress and the
Administration urge the Colombian State to carry out all human rights
investigations and trials under civilian jurisdiction, with the full cooperation
of the security forces.
[From the New York Times, July 19, 2001]
The Tuberculosis Threat
The London neighborhood
of Newham is a good illustration of the perils of complacency about tuberculosis.
That East End borough now has 108 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 inhabitants--double
that of India and on a par with Russia. Many of those sick are immigrants
from Asia and Africa, a reminder that tuberculosis anywhere can mean tuberculosis
everywhere. But Newham is also suffering because London needs to spend
more on public health. There are not enough nurses and specialists in
the worst-hit areas to control the disease.
The House of Representatives
will consider funding for international tuberculosis programs as part
of the foreign operations appropriations bill this week. The bill currently
provides only $70 million for global tuberculosis programs, just $10 million
more than last year. Far more is needed to stop the global resurgence
of the disease, which kills two to three million people a year.
The task is urgent
in part because of the rise of tuberculosis resistant to the usual antibiotics.
Dr. Lee Reichman, director of the New Jersey Medical School's National
Tuberculosis Center in Newark, gives a chilling account of the threat
in his new book, ``Timebomb,'' written with Janice Hopkins Tanne. The
epicenter is Russia, where the prison system is churning out resistant
tuberculosis, Dr. Reichman says. But resistant forms of the disease have
been found in virtually every part of the United States. Unlike standard
tuberculosis, which can cost as little as $10 to cure, the resistant version
costs upwards of $20,000 to treat over several years, and some patients
cannot be cured.
The other reason
more people are dying of tuberculosis today than ever in history is AIDS.
One-third of the people in the world are infected with bacillus that causes
TB. Ninety percent, however, will never get the disease--unless their
immune systems are compromised by AIDS. Forty percent of Africans with
AIDS have tuberculosis, which is the leading killer of people with AIDS.
That suggests a simple
and cheap way of prolonging the lives of millions of AIDS sufferers--cure
their TB. Once their buterculosis is gone, many AIDS patients will enjoy
years more of relatively good health before they get another opportunistic
more people around the world each year than any other infectious disease
and is more easily transmitted than AIDS. But unlike AIDS, most forms
are easily curable. The World Health Organization has just created a global
drug fund that will supply countries with an uninterrupted flow of medicine
if they can use it properly. A little money now can control this neglected
killer before we face a global epidemic of a version that has outrun our
ability to treat it.
Excerpts From the Colombia Section, ``2000 Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices''--U.S. Department of State, February 2001
Members of the security
forces collaborated with paramilitary groups that committed abuses, in
some instances allowing such groups to pass through roadblocks, sharing
information, or providing them with supplies or ammunition. Despite increased
government efforts to combat and capture members of paramilitary groups,
often security forces failed to take action to prevent paramilitary attacks.
Paramilitary forces find a ready support base within the military and
police, as well as among local civilian elites in many areas.
Throughout the country,
paramilitary groups killed, tortured, and threatened civilians suspected
of sympathizing with guerrillas in an orchestrated campaign to terrorize
them into fleeing their homes. . . . Paramilitary forces were responsible
for an increasing number of massacres and other politically motivated
killings. They also fought guerrillas for control of some lucrative coca-growing
regions and engaged directly in narcotics production and trafficking.
The AUC paramilitary umbrella organization, whose membership totaled approximately
8,150 armed combatants, exercised increasing influence during the year
and fought to extend its presence through violence and intimidation into
areas previously under guerrilla control while conducting selective killings
of civilians it alleged collaborated with guerrillas. The AUC increasingly
tried to depict itself as an autonomous organization with a political
agenda, although in practice it remained a mercenary vigilante force,
financed by criminal activities and sectors of society that are targeted
persisted of paramilitary installations and roadblocks near military bases;
of contacts between paramilitary and military members; of paramilitary
roadblocks unchallenged by military forces; and of military failure to
respond to warnings of impending paramilitary massacres or selective killings.
Military entities often cited lack of information or resources to explain
this situation. Impunity for military personnel who collaborated with
members of paramilitary groups remained common.
(Prepared by the
Washington Office on Latin America, 202-797-2171. Emphases added)
United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights Report on the Human Rights Situation in
Colombia, March 20, 2001
phenomenon continues to expand and consolidate. The government's commitment
to confronting these groups has been weak and inconsistent. Evidence of
this can be seen in the responses to the [UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights] Office's communications with the authorities about imminent attacks
or about the existence of bases, roadblocks and paramilitary movements.
The instruments adopted by the Government to combat paramilitary groups
have proven ineffective in containing their expansion and dismantling
them. In other cases those instruments have not been applied. There is
still great concern about the persistent links between public servants
and members of paramilitary organizations, as well as the lack of punishment.
The paramilitary groups continue to be the principal perpetrators of collective
killings. The Ministry of Defense reports that paramilitary groups are
responsible for 75 massacres, which is 76% of all massacres committed
between January and October. The practice of collective killings of defenseless
civilians is their principal method of operation and war strategy. (Paragraph
The fact that some
of the military personnel dismissed this year have joined the paramilitary
groups a few days after their removal from active service is an additional
cause for deep concern and serious reflection ..... There is a well-known
paramilitary roadblock at the entrance of the village of El Placer, just
fifteen minutes from a battalion of the Army's 24th Brigade. The roadblock
continued to operate eight months after the Office reported directly observing
it. The military authorities denied in writing the existence of this paramilitary
post. The Office also observed ongoing paramilitary operations at the
``Villa Sandra'' ranch, between Puerto Asis and Santa Ana. Putumayo, a
few minutes away from the Army's 24th Brigade. Later there was a report
of two raids by the public forces, though they apparently did not produce
any results. The existence and operation of the paramilitary base is public
knowledge. In fact, international journalists repeatedly visited the base
and published interviews with the paramilitary commander. (Paragraph 134)
The Ministry of Defense
has not made public the total number of internally displaced people registered
during the year, but according to numbers published by the Ministry, between
January and June 2000, 71% of displacement was presumably caused by paramilitary
groups. 14% by guerrilla groups, 15% by combined guerrilla and paramilitary
actions, and 0.04% by armed agents of the State. (Paragraph 141)
prepared by the Washington Office on Latin America, 202-797-2171. Emphases
As of October 3,
2001, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20010724)