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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-Illinois), July 24, 2001
Mr. 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)
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