Pubdate: Wed, 27 Mar 2002
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2002 The Miami Herald
Author: Jutta Meier-Wiedenbach


It is easy to agree that ''Colombia's bloody civil war has escalated 
with a vengeance'' (Aid to Colombia, March 20 editorial).

However, it is doubtful that more U.S. military aid will put an end 
to the violence. It hasn't so far: Violence caused over 3,500 
civilian victims last year alone, and coca production has increased 
in spite of the war on drugs.

It is more likely that more military aid will further feed the war, 
strengthening the resolve of right-wing paramilitary groups, known as 
the AUC, that engage in the most brutal human-rights violations 
against civilians.

The AUC is one of the Colombian groups on the U.S. terrorist list. 
Mary Robinson, United Nations high commissioner for human rights, 
recently said that ``the activities of paramilitary groups 
constituted the main cause of these [human rights] violations, and 
the state cannot ignore its responsibilities.''

Human-rights organizations have documented widespread tacit and 
active support by the Colombian army for illegal paramilitary 
organizations. Robinson's report on Colombia describes several AUC 
massacres in which the military received advance warning of the 
attacks but did not intervene.

In other words, military aid to the Colombian military is indirectly 
supporting an organization that the U.S. government classifies as 

It is time to rethink aid to Colombia.

We should support efforts for peace instead of feeding a war that 
has, as was pointed out in your editorial, ``killed more people . . . 
in the last year than in the 18-month intifada in Israel.''


Colombia Program Coordinator

Fellowship of Reconciliation Task Force on Latin America and the 
Caribbean San Francisco, Calif.
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