WOLA applauds the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, which has approved a version of the foreign aid bill that would significantly increase social and economic aid to Colombia while decreasing military aid. Press Release
WOLA WASHINGTON OFFICE ON LATIN AMERICA
Promoting Human Rights, Democracy, and Social and Economic Justice
For Immediate Release
June 6, 2007
Contacts: Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Senior Associate for Colombia, (202) 797 2171 ext 205
Roger Atwood, Communications Director, (202) 797-2171 ext 211; cell (202) 316- 3857
Congress has signaled that it will substantially cut the military share of Plan Colombia, while bolstering funds for humanitarian programs including judicial reform, rural development, law enforcement assistance, and internally displaced persons. The current ratio of military to humanitarian aid in U.S. support for Plan Colombia is 76 percent to 24 percent, respectively; the new allocation would be 55 percent military, 45 percent humanitarian, if the bill approved by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations is sustained by the full Congress.
WOLA, the research and advocacy group, applauds the subcommittee’s action.
“Congress has taken an important step toward a more responsible and effective, humanitarian approach in our Colombia aid program. Congress is starting to get it right,” said WOLA Executive Director Joy Olson.
This bill also puts new conditions on Plan Colombia’s use of massive aerial herbicide spraying – or fumigation – of coca. New numbers released by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) show that the area under coca cultivation in Colombia actually increased in 2006 over 2005. Coca cultivation in Colombia climbed 9 percent to 388,000 acres last year, even though fumigation encompassed a larger area than ever before.
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe will visit the U.S. Congress on Thursday and Friday. WOLA hopes members of Congress will impress upon President Uribe the need for a more balanced approach to drug control – with more focus on drug interdiction, judicial reform efforts, and the rights of Afro-Colombian and indigenous minorities.
Congress should also demand much stronger action on the murders of some 400 trade unionists since President Uribe took office, nearly all of which have gone unpunished. The relentless violence against labor activists in Colombia is closely linked to the problem of paramilitary groups, which are widely believed to be responsible for the bulk of the killings and have been linked to members of President Uribe’s government, politicians and military officers. Congress should urge the democratically elected President Uribe to do vastly more than he has done so far to end impunity and restore the rule of law.
The Washington Office on Latin America is a non-governmental organization that promotes human rights, democracy, and social and economic justice in U.S. policy towards Latin America.