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Congress OKs Military Aid to Colombia, National movement says NO

by Jess Sundin |
July 1, 2000
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After months of delays and debates, on Thursday, June 22, the Senate voted 95-4 to send another $1.3 billion in military aid to Colombia. Activists around the country responded with an outcry of protest.

The Colombia Action Network (CAN) called for the protests on Monday, June 26, to demand that Congress and President Clinton stop the bill. "This money will pay for hi-tech satellite surveillance equipment and brutal attack helicopters. Under the guidance of North American military advisors, this equipment will be used in direct combat with the guerrillas who operate in southern Colombia. Military aid is an attack on Colombia's fragile peace negotiations, and it won't stop drug use in the United States," said a CAN statement. "We have just a few days to speak out and stop Clinton's latest offensive against Marxist revolutionaries in Colombia."

In Chicago, the Colombia Solidarity Committee responded to the Senate vote with a bannering near Depaul University, where they passed out 450 leaflets. More actions were held later in the week, and the committee has called a demonstration to "Protest U.S. Military Aid To Colombia" at the Colombian Consulate, 500 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL, for Thursday, July 27.

In New York, Senator Chuck Schumer has been dogged by committee activists everywhere he goes, including at the June 25th GLBT Pride Festival. Members of the New York Colombia Action Committee (NY-CAC) & New York CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) spotted him at the festival, and shouted, "Death Squad Democrat." The NY-CAC organized an emergency protest of the Senate vote at Schumer's office on Monday. 40 protesters handed out 500 leaflets, and demanded, "Not a nickel, not a dime! Aid to death squads is a crime!"

Some 75 protesters joined the Anti-War Committee at the Minneapolis Federal Building on June 26. One protest organizer said, "This is not the last military aid package that Congress will send to Colombia. And every day that Congress is in session, any one of the politicians could sponsor a bill to stop all the military aid from going, they can withdraw the U.S. troops that are there now. Until then, we will come out here again and again to protest this dirty war on the people of Colombia." The crowed cheered Anti-War Committee member Mark Abendroth when he said, "This is not a war on drugs; it is a racist war on the poor, in the U.S. and Colombia." Other speakers included members of Women Against Military Madness, AlliantAction, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

With a June 29 House vote of 306-110, and a voice vote in the Senate the next day, US lawmakers approved the conference committee version of the bill, and declared war on the people of Colombia. These protests are building a movement to end military aid and all US intervention in Colombia.