Pubdate: Sun, 09 Jun 2002
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2002 The Buffalo News
Author: Carol Sundberg


The Western New York Peace Center demands a suspension of all U.S. military 
aid to Colombia, because the failed war on drugs is actually a pretext to 
intervene in a conflict to protect U.S. business interests. Colombia's 
conflict is an unwinnable 40-year-old war involving a military 
establishment aligned with various paramilitary groups.

The civilian population is the victim, targeted as rebel sympathizers. 
About 70 percent of Colombia's politically motivated homicides are 
committed by paramilitaries. Yet the government has not prosecuted any 
military or paramilitary leaders, in spite of its promises to improve the 
country's human-rights record.

The European Union has refused to support Plan Colombia for these reasons. 
The EU supports only economic and humanitarian aid, especially to help 
peasant farmers in establishing alternatives to coca production, the raw 
material for cocaine.

This aid would ultimately facilitate the faltering peace process by 
attacking the root of the problem, the unjust distribution of the country's 

A 500-mile pipeline in Northern Colombia is owned jointly by Los 
Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum and the state-owned Colombian Oil 
Company, Ecopetrol. Since 1986, it has been bombed by FARC and other rebel 

In February, the Bush administration began pressuring Congress to broaden 
its $1.3 billion Colombia aid package to include pipeline protection with 
military training and equipment.

The proposal follows news of the failure of aerial fumigation of coca 
plants. Plan Colombia's crop substitution program has not worked due to a 
lack of funding and support from the Colombian government.

We must tell our representatives in Congress to say no to fumigation and to 
$100 million for oil pipeline protection. The United States should 
discontinue Plan Colombia and divert "drug war" money to drug treatment and 
counseling, a much more effective method of lowering drug use.

Carol Sundberg

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