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Protesters Say: U.S. Get Out Of Colombia!

by Anh Pham |
April 1, 2000
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March 11 Demonstrators against aid package for Colombia.
March 11 demonstration against the proposed $1.7 billion military aid package for Colombia. (Fight Back! Reidun Bolso)

Minneapolis, MN - Over 70 protesters held banners and signs while chanting, "Hands off Colombia, stop the aid now!" on Saturday, March 11. People driving by greeted the protest with horns honking and fists raised in support, at the busy intersection of the uptown shopping area.     

Organized by the Anti-War Committee, the demonstration drew attention to the 1.7-billion dollar military aid package for the Colombian government and military that is going through Congress. The proposed jump in military aid marks an escalation of the U.S. involvement in Colombia's 40-year civil war.

Speakers from the Anti-War Committee and other peace and justice groups, addressed issues of the military aid package and the U.S. economic interest in Colombia, which are hidden under the guise of the so-called drug war. The "drug war" is a smoke screen for the U.S. to get more involved in the Colombian government's war against the guerrillas. Colombian rebels are fighting for land reform, social justice, and national independence.

The speakers also noted that U.S. intervention in Colombia is similar to the 1980's U.S. backing of repressive governments in Central America, and the more recent attempts to block efforts by Iraq and Yugoslavia to assert their independence from foreign domination.

Anti-War Committee members say that they are in for the long haul. "The passing of this legislation would be far from the end," said Jessica Sundin, Anti-War Committee organizer. "Even if the aid package gets passed we will continue our fight and raise awareness of U.S. foreign policy in Colombia. We will track every dollar that goes into the hands of the Colombian government and paramilitaries and hold the elected officials responsible."

To keep the pressure on Congress, the Anti-War Committee is holding a speak-out, letter-writing events, and more protests.

Colombian Jennifer Molina, an Anti-War Committee member, stressed that the only way to bring about peace was to respect the sovereignty of the Colombian people. "People must understand that this war, and the U.S. involvement in it, is killing thousands of people. We almost had peace, the Guerrillas and the Government were at the negotiating table and the U.S. destroyed that by giving money to the Government. We (Americans) cannot let this happen again. The killing must end."

The protest included creative theater and music presentations, and speakers April Knutson, of WAMM, Macalester College professor Mahmoud Al Kati, a leader of the Twin Cities African American community, and professor Suzanne Wilson.