Pubdate: Thu, 04 Apr 2002
Source: Joplin Globe, The (MO)
Copyright: 2002 The Joplin Globe
Author: Jean Blackwood
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


I am deeply concerned about the escalating U.S. military involvement in 
Colombia's decades-old civil war. I hope our elected representatives will 
oppose efforts to further involve the U.S. in this quagmire.

In the upcoming FY2002 supplemental spending bill, President Bush is 
expected to ask Congress to approve a shift in U.S. policy toward Colombia. 
Under the guise of fighting the global war on terrorism, he will request 
that Congress lift current restrictions on the use of U.S.-trained 
counter-narcotics battalions and weapons.

They could then be deployed to fight the escalating civil war against the 
left-wing FARC guerrillas. Congress should maintain the restrictions in 
current law that prohibit U.S. counter-narcotics aid to be used for the 
counter-insurgency war.

President Bush, reportedly, will also seek to lift current human rights 
restrictions on U.S. military aid to Colombia.

He may also request funds to begin training Colombian troops to protect a 
pipeline carrying oil owned by U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum. This is a 
dangerous "mission creep" that would pull the U.S. military more deeply 
into Colombia's civil war.

I oppose all military aid and training for Colombia or for the war on drugs 
throughout the region. U.S.-trained military battalions and weapons have 
not brought an end to drug production in Colombia; more battalions and 
weapons are not the answer.

Since 2000, when the U.S. significantly increased its military and 
counter-narcotics assistance to Colombia, drug production has increased. 
After more than a billion dollars in military aid, the U.S.-sponsored coca 
fumigation campaign has left people ill, food and alternative cash crops 
wilted, drinking water supplies contaminated, and aquatic life destroyed. 
Violent acts, committed by all of Colombia's armed groups against 
civilians, have increased dramatically.

Thousands have been driven from their homes by the violence, the fumigation 
campaign and resulting poverty. There must be a negotiated, political 
solution to Colombia's conflict.

Increased U.S. participation in war-making is the wrong approach to 
achieving peace in Colombia, just as it has been the wrong approach to 
stopping the production of illegal drugs.

Jean Blackwood, Carthage
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