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Colombian Activist Tours U.S.

by Carolyn Connelly |
April 2, 2000
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New York, NY - Over the month of February, the newly formed Colombian Action Network organized its first national speaking tour, featuring Amparo Torres, a human rights activist and labor leader from Colombia. Events took place in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City.

The tour coincided with the Clinton Administration's proposed 1.6 billion-dollar military aid package for Colombia. Under the auspices of the "war on drugs," the US is funding a military noted for committing human rights violations, and collaborating with paramilitary death squads and drug lords

Amparo Torres' presentations brought this message home, explaining that US policy in Colombia has always put corporate profits before social justice.

35,000 people have died over the past 30 years due to the war. During the Dirty War of the 1980s, the US was supporting a government responsible for the murder of 3,000 members of the Patriotic Union, an legal left-wing political party that Ms. Torres help found.

Crowds Pack Colombia Events

In Chicago, 30 people came to hear Ms. Torres speak at the Taller Mestizarte Art studio. Students at a local University heard her speak. Amparo Torres also gave a radio interview with National Public Radio (NPR) and a campus-based radio program. Large numbers of labor activists heard about Ms. Torres organizing with the Workers Union in Cali as and the public workers strike last year. A follow-up event, an art opening at a local nightclub, drew 150 people who contributed to on-going organizing by the Chicago Solidarity Committee.

200 people braved a blizzard to listen to Amparo Torres speak at a forum sponsored by the Anti-War Committee in a church basement in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ms. Torres also met with a Latino youth group, over 100 University of Minnesota students, and an aide to Senator Paul Wellstone. The visit by Torres prompted an interview of activists on The Black Power Hour, a show on the local African American radio station, bringing her message of peace with justice to thousands who couldn't see her in person.

Finally, in New York, 25 people gathered at the Brecht Forum to hear Amparo Torres to give her impassioned message for the people of the US to stand in solidarity with the people of Colombia and oppose US aid and intervention.

What's All the Money For?

According to a statement by the Colombia Action Network, most of this aid package, almost one billion dollars, is aimed at backing a Colombian Army offensive into the southern portion of Colombia. This is the area controlled by the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). As a condition for peace talks, Colombia's government agreed to withdraw all forces from this area. Sending in the Colombian Army, or US soldiers, is a plan for defeat of the peace process. The guerrillas view this proposed aggression as a declaration of war.

Jennifer Leazer of the New York Colombia Action Committee states, "The Clinton Administration would have people in the US believe that the Colombian people really want this military aid and it's going to help bring peace to Colombia. But Ms. Torres' talk really showed how the military and the death squads are working hand-in-hand, and the US government knows it."

Leazer went on to say, "We need to heed Amparo Torres's call to stop this package in Congress before any more people are killed with American guns and attack helicopters." Organizing efforts are raging in all the cities that hosted Ms. Torres.

Join the Fight, Stop US intervention in Colombia!

In Colombia, the movement fighting for national liberation is growing. Here in the United States, our responsibility is to build a movement against US intervention in Colombia. We must build opposition to the US government's plan to increase aid to the bloody Colombian military, and demand that our congresspeople vote no. We should demand that tax dollars are used for job programs, universal health care and public education in the US.

The Colombian Action Network's speaking tour was an important step in building a movement against US intervention in Colombia. In the coming period, we should re-double our efforts to force our congress people to vote no on any aid package for Colombia's corrupt, brutal army.

No Push into Southern Colombia!

Hands Off Colombia!

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