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Protest against joint U.S./Colombia military exercise in Arizona

By Jafe Arnoldski |
May 6, 2014
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Tuscon protest against joint U.S./Colombia military exercise in Arizona
Tuscon protest against joint U.S./Colombia military exercise in Arizona. (Photo by Ethan Beasley)

Tucson, AZ - 20 anti-war protesters confronted the arrival of Colombian Air Force and Special Forces troops at a U.S- led military exercise near Tucson, May 4. The anti-war activists chanted, “Stop the U.S.-funded war in Colombia!” and “50 years of war is enough!”

The Colombian military came to practice under U.S. and NATO forces at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Outside the base, on a busy street corner, speakers denounced U.S. military intervention, the more than $8 billion spent by the U.S. government in repressing democracy and human rights, and the significance of the ongoing peace process between the revolutionary FARC and the Colombian government. In recent years Colombian officers, trained at Fort Benning in Georgia, were caught murdering civilian day laborers and claiming they were revolutionary fighters of the FARC. At least 1800 young men died this way.

Tucson anti-war activist Jim Byrne shared, "We are here to denounce the collaboration of the NATO militaries during their training - for maintaining war and violence. We oppose the disgusting trend of the militarization of state and local police, who more and more look like professional armies. These police-armies are used against Chicano, African-American, and other oppressed people here, so that Arizona feels like the Terrordome!"

Ana Maria Vasquez from Colombia explained, "I am 48 years old and I've never known peace in my country. We are all here today in solidarity to ensure the end of the war so that Colombians can live without war, murder, repression and fear."

Protesters vowed to continue their international solidarity with the Colombian people. Jim Byrne said, "We in the U.S. must develop alliances with all those seeking peace and justice for the people of Colombia. Labor unions like the United Steel Workers, faith organizations and social justice groups must demand the U.S. government stop financing, arming and supporting the militarization of Latin America and the repression of its peoples."

Video of the protest is being shared with unions, human rights organizations and the Colombian democratic movement Marcha Patriotica. The Alliance for Global Justice organized the protest to build solidarity between the U.S. and Colombian working people in struggling for peace and democracy. Tucson Students for a Democratic Society, Occupy Tucson and local churches endorsed the rally.

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