On July 13, 2000, President Clinton signed Plan Colombia into law, making Colombia the third largest recipient of US foreign aid, and a focus of US foreign policy.
Through Plan Colombia and related initiatives, the U.S. has invested over five billion dollars in Colombia’s civil war. Most of the aid is attack helicopters, weaponry, hi-tech surveillance planes and equipment. Much of the money outfits and trains “counter-narcotics batallions”. These batallions combat left-wing guerrillas and have been linked to countless atrocities and massacres against campesinos, trade unionists, students who were accused of supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP). US military personnel, intelligence, and contrators are stationed in Colombia, providing direct support to the Colombian government in the counter-insurgency war.
Every budget cycle has included new increases in aid to Colombia and neighboring countries. In 2003, using the “War on Terror” as a justification, the Bush Administration won more increases in military aid and involvement, including a $100 million military aid project to protect an oil pipeline in Northern Colombia. That money was attached directly to the Bush request for funds for the war in Iraq!
Colombian human rights, labor & other activists are calling for an END to U.S. military aid & intervention, because it fuels a war against civilians. Paramilitary death squads work hand-in-hand with the Colombian military, and reap the benefits of US military aid. The paramilitaries, along with the military, are responsible for 80% of Colombia’s human rights violations (the worst in Latin America). Political assassinations and disappearances are all too common, and trade unionists are the hardest hit. US corporations even employ paramilitary groups to intimidate, threaten and murder Colombian union leaders. Coca-Cola is now the subject of an international boycott campaign, because of its use of violence against its union workers. Drummond Coal and Chiquita Banana face civil suits in the U.S. for their employment of para-militaries to murder and intimidate union organizers at their sites in Colombia.
In 2004 the U.S. began a new form of intervention in Colombia. The U.S. kidnapped and extradited Colombian rebel leader Ricardo Palmera of the FARC-EP while he was planning a U.N. negotiation for a prisoner exchange. The U.S. violated the sovereignty of both Ecuador and Colombia, damaging peace efforts. The U.S. continues to hold Professor Palmera in solitary confinement following four kangaroo trials. Despite attempts to stack the trials against him, three ended in mistrials. The Bush White House was forced to admit defeat and dropped nine out of ten terrorism and drug charges–even with all the legal advantages to the U.S. prosecutors. Palmera is now serving a sentence of sixty years for being a member of a conspiracy–the FARC, the most well respected rebel insurgency in Latin America. Another FARC leader, Sonia, is imprisoned in Fort Worth, Texas. The US is preparing to interfere further in Colombia’s decades old civil war, with indictments against other rebels. In addition, in 2008 the U.S. Military planned and commanded the Colombian government’s assassination of FARC leader Raul Reyes in Ecuador. This violated Ecuador’s sovereignty, eroded hope for prisoner of war exchanges, and raised tensions throughout South America.
The Anti-War Committee works to support progressive forces in Colombia, to end U.S. intervention and stop U.S. military aid to the Colombian government. We oppose all forms of U.S. intervention in Colombia: military, political and economic. We have sent Anti-War Committee members on four different human rights delegations to Colombia to document the affects of U.S. intervention in Colombia and to stand in solidarity with the movements for social justice that are working for change in Colombia.