|Military Violence in Colombia Continues|
In recent months, numerous sources have highlighted growing concern about the paramilitary-military links in Colombia. According to the U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices ? Colombia (Feb. 25, 2004),
?Evidence suggested there were tacit arrangements between local military officers and paramilitary groups in some regions, and some members of the security forces actively assisted paramilitary groups by passing them through roadblocks, sharing intelligence, providing them with weapons and ammunition and joining their ranks while off duty.?
The Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Colombia (Feb. 17, 2004) stated that, ?The office in Colombia continued receiving, in growing number, complaints of violations with direct responsibility of public servants, and in particular the Security Forces, on several occasions jointly with the Attorney-General?s office.? Additionally, the Colombian weekly news magazine Cambio, published the comments of a former Colombian Army general, General Jaime Alberto Uscбtegui, who claims to have evidence that details the extent of alleged tacit agreements between the paramilitaries and the Colombian military.
The issues surrounding paramilitary activities and impunity are just some of the factors that contribute to the continuing poor human rights record in Colombia, as described in the annual State Department and UN reports. Yet despite the well-documented, very serious humanitarian problems, since the spring of 2000, the U.S. has given Colombia $2.52 billion in military and police aid (www.ciponline.org, 3/2/04). Congress will consider the Administration?s request for an additional $593.7 million in aid to Colombia in the FY05 Foreign Appropriations Bill.
According to WHINSEC, in 2003, 316 out of 903 students were from Colombia; and in the 2004 projections, 337 out of 811 students will be from Colombia. SOA Watch strongly opposes these policies as they only help escalate violence in a nation ravaged by a four-decade-long civil war and it is the people who pay the price. We call on Congress to stop the training of troops at the SOA/WHINSEC, to investigate all security training in Latin America and to give aid for social programs, not military buildup.
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