by Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.), July 24, 2001
Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MCGOVERN),
as well as the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. HOEKSTRA), the gentlewoman from
California (Ms. PELOSI), and the gentlewoman from Maryland (Mrs. MORELLA)
for their leadership and hard work on this issue. Would that we could legislate
on this, because certainly we would move in the direction that the gentleman
from Massachusetts (Mr. MCGOVERN) has set forth.
I am pleased to support
this important amendment. It is important to the millions of people who
die from tuberculosis each year; it is important to the mothers in developing
countries who have maternal mortality rates 18 times that of people in
developed countries; and, Mr. Chairman, it is important to the people
of Colombia who live in fear because our past efforts have failed them.
Last year, the Congress
agreed to a $1.3 billion supplemental appropriation for a 2-year package
for Colombia and surrounding countries. Now, between this appropriation
and the defense appropriation, we are being asked for another $1 billion.
Last year we were
told that our taxpayer dollars would be used to increase protection for
human rights, expand the rule of law, and promote the peace process in
Colombia. We were told it would be used to eradicate coca crops across
Colombia. We were told it would be used to promote alternative crops and
jobs in Colombia. That is what we were told.
After close examination
of the evidence, we simply have to ask, where did the money go? The human
rights situation in Colombia has gotten worse, the peace process is no
closer than it was, and many of the crops eradicated were actually food
crops. And now we are being asked to buy the same set of broken promises
as last year, and this is not progress.
We all know that
the Colombian military has close ties with the paramilitary organizations
responsible for large scale massacres of civilians. Our own State Department
has documented that the Colombian Armed Forces aid paramilitaries by providing
them with intelligence, supplies, ammunition, and that they often fail
to protect civilians from attacks.
The military funding
we give in the hopes of helping the Colombian people is, to some degree,
having the opposite effect. In the first 18 days of this year, 170 people
were killed in 26 massacres. Data shows that as of April, deaths due to
political violence roughly doubled those from previous years. These are
innocent people trying to make Colombia a safer and more prosperous place,
like Cristobol Uribe Beltran of the Association of Workers and Employees
in Hospitals, Clinics and Organizations, who was kidnapped on June 27th
and assassinated the very next day, innocent lives brought to an end for
no legitimate reason. This is not progress.
We have seen the
human rights abuses in Colombia continue to escalate since last year's
aid package. More than 300,000 people were forcibly displaced from their
home by political violence. There continues to be hostage-taking, torture,
killing of civilians. Our aid is being used against people who have been
mislabeled as guerrillas and are often students, professors and priests.
They are taken captive by the paramilitaries and oftentimes never heard
from or seen again. Our aid has been used to destroy food crops and put
harmful herbicides in the rivers and ponds in Colombian villages. It has
displaced people from their land and homes and forced them to relocate,
and this is not progress.
We need to take a
hard look at the situation we are dealing with in Colombia and make the
sound judgment that our military aid efforts are simply not working. The
aid we are providing is being misplaced, and I believe there is a role
for the United States to play in this situation that is entirely different.
We can provide resources
to build infrastructure, so crops can get to markets profitably; we can
provide assistance to help build a court system to the point where it
is effective, fair and respected; or we can build schools and roads and
community support; or we can build a competent, efficient, respected police
force and a military force that does not favor the paramilitaries or ignore
With all of these
options at our disposal, we are being asked to choose the one we know
will not work because it has not worked in the past.
This amendment recognizes
that act and, instead, diverts some of this money from this wasteful program
to one that saves lives. That is the intent of this legislation.
Mr. Chairman, we
ask that this money be used for tuberculosis aid and not for military
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)