by Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-Illinois), July 24, 2001
Chairman, I rise in strong support of the McGovern-Hoekstra-Pelosi-Morella-Jackson-Lee
amendment which adds $50 million to the infectious diseases account to combat
tuberculosis and $50 million to the child survival and maternal health account.
The offset comes from a $100 million cut in funding for the Colombian military.
As a relatively new
Member of this august body, the most important parliamentary body in the
entire world, what has struck me is the capacity of the United States
for relatively small amounts of money, relative to the amount of money
that we have and the amount of money that we spend, to do good in the
world and to end the suffering of millions of people. That is what this
amendment allows us to do.
I had the experience
of going to Colombia with one of the sponsors of this amendment, the gentleman
from Massachusetts. One of the things that we did was go to Barrios Kennedy,
a place for displaced people, people who have been displaced by the multi-decade
war that we are helping to fuel in Colombia. When we went to this crowded
community and we met with families there, it was so sad because many of
the families would put forward their children who were so sick and who
were getting no help from the government, who were not getting the kind
of help they needed or wanted from the United States. When they saw Members
of the United States House of Representatives, they thought, can you help
us? They showed us their health care bills that they could not pay. They
held up their sick children. They were pleading for help.
This amendment gives
us the opportunity to do two things for those people: one, to help their
children with their health care needs; and, two, to end the continued
problem of displacement.
How do we do that?
Cutting funds from the Colombian military makes sense. This is a military
that has repeatedly been implicated in the brutalization and murder of
the very people that it is supposed to protect. Last year, there was an
average of at least one massacre a day in Colombia, leaving thousands
murdered and millions displaced. They flock to cities like Bogota where
we met with some of them.
While many of the
attacks were carried out by guerillas and paramilitary, these illegal
armed groups operate with impunity from the military. In fact, they are
often aided in their efforts by the Colombian armed forces personnel.
This amendment sends
two clear messages: one, that we care about the children and the poor
and the sick in this world, that we want to eradicate polio, that we want
to get rid of tuberculosis; and, two, we send an important message to
the Colombian military that we will not tolerate nor support the kinds
of human rights violations that continue to devastate the people of Colombia
that we say we are there to help.
I urge all my colleagues
to join in strong support of this well-thought-out amendment.
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)