Colombia Update

Dear Friends:

The Colombian conflict took a frightening turn yesterday when the 3-year-old peace talks between the Colombian armed forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) broke down. According to news reports, Colombian aircraft launched an offensive against the Switzerland-sized rebel zone of control with more than 200 air sorties attacking some 85 sites inside the zone. The offensive threatens the resumption of an all-out war in Colombia. (See Colombia Gov't Launches Airstrikes)

Colombia's civil war has already taken far too many lives. US military aid to this country has only made matters worse. The collapse of the peace talks and the government offensive into areas ceded to the rebels will almost certainly deepen the already-unacceptable bloodshed.

Please help us promote peace in Colombia. Send a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell today asking him to urge the Colombian government back to the bargaining table and requesting that he investigate whether US weapons supplied under Plan Colombia were used in the offensive. You can send a fax directly to the State Department from the Global Exchange

In modern wars, most casualties are civilians. With the breakdown of the peace talks, civilians are now in great jeopardy. The ordinary citizens of Colombia will not gain anything from an all-out war. The only winners will be the most extremist elements within the Colombian military and
the guerrilla forces.

The almost-certain consequence of a sudden FARC departure from the zone will be the arrival of right-wing paramilitary forces, death squads with documented ties to the Colombian military. These forces, which have killed thousands of people in recent years, including campesinos, human rights defenders, trade unionists, academics and community leaders, will likely seek to exact reprisals on civilians for suspected support of the rebels. The Colombian government must do everything it can to guarantee
that this does not happen.

It is important to note that recent US actions have added fuel to the fire. Increases in US military aid have certainly emboldened the most hawkish elements within the Colombian military. The abrupt shift in rhetoric by Bush Administration officials from support for counter-narcotic operations to discussing counter-insurgency efforts and
urging protection of the Colombia assets of US oil companies has, in effect, given the Colombian military the green light to attack the rebel zone.

We are especially concerned that weapons provided through Plan Colombia may have been used in the recent offensive and/or will be used in this deepening conflict. If this is true, it would violate US law. The Bush Administration and members of Congress should immediately undertake an investigation to ensure that no US military assistance provided through Plan Colombia are being used in this offensive, nor will they be used in any future actions.

Please send a fax to Sec. Powell today, and keep visiting the GX website for news updates.
En Paz,

Colombia Program, Global Exchange
Global Exchange
415.255.7296 ext.228 or 800.497.1994

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