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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), July 24, 2001
Mr. 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 bill.

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, July 2001]
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.

Illegal paramilitary 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.

Amnesty International USA recommends that

The House of Representatives pass an amendment to cut military aid to Colombia from the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill;

Congress include 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 infection.

Tuberculosis kills 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 by guerrillas.

Credible reports 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

The paramilitary 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. (Paragraph 254)


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 88)

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)

(Unofficial translation prepared by the Washington Office on Latin America, 202-797-2171. Emphases added.)

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)

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