Pubdate: Mon, 11 Feb 2002
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2002 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Author: Bill Lange


A Feb. 6 Journal Sentinel headline stated, "U.S. may expand troop aid to 
Colombia." What does this mean? Is it a war on drugs, a war on terrorism or 
is it about oil and forcing the "free trade" economic model on people 
already suffering from its effects?

I just returned from a two-week visit to oil-rich Colombia with the 
U.S.-based group Witness for Peace. Our mission was to evaluate the use of 
the massive military aid bestowed on Colombia by the United States.

Colombian church leaders, human rights activists, peace activists and union 
leaders point out that the Colombian military is not at war just with the 
guerrillas, but with civil society itself. It supports and trains a 
paramilitary that threatens and murders indigenous people and 
Afro-Colombians whose ancestral lands are coveted for oil and other 
economic "mega projects." The military also is fumigating crops, destroying 
the food source for the people, animals and rain forest and causing people 
to become ill.

Union leaders who oppose the new "free trade" economic model or 
"neo-liberalism" are under siege. Last year, 157 labor leaders were 

President Bush's war budget is not anti-drug or anti-terrorist; its purpose 
is to impose an economic model that exploits workers, destroys the 
environment and negates national sovereignty. The beneficiaries are the 
multinationals who get a bargain for their campaign contributions.

Bill Lange,  Wauwatosa
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