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No to US Troops in Colombia

Posted on: Friday, April 13, 2012

Keywords: Colombia, Latin America and Caribbean, US Foreign Policy

Yesterday, we received a press release from our friends at La Ruta Pacífica denoucing the American troop presence in Colombia. Read their press release below:

We Do Not Want American Troops in Colombia!

Bogotá, April 12, 2012This past March 31 the Colombian media reported that more American soldiers are to be sent to Colombia. This information was previously published by the US media and by the press of the Armed Services in the United States. General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, who was Chief of US troops in Afghanistan and of the Iraq Security Transition Command, stated that he would send to Colombia senior US official “brigade commanders that had been in Iraq and Afghanistan to work with the joint forces” in Colombia. He also added that “the challenges that the Colombian army faces are no different from those faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The women of La Ruta Pacifica, from the perspective of feminism and pacifism denounce the foreign military presence in our country. In the same way that we opposed the US presence on seven military bases in Colombia, we similarly oppose that more US military come to advise or be advised, nor do we want them here to facilitate an “exchange of experiences.”

We Colombian women know what US troops come to Colombia for. We reject that our territories and our bodies continue to be violated by men in uniform that are said to defend the homeland, democracy and freedom. We oppose the culture of violence and of war that armies like the US army spread wherever they go.

The presence of foreign military results in a higher rate of sexual offenses against women and girls. In most cases, almost all of these offenses go unpunished because foreign forces are generally protected by the Status of Forces Agreement from legal action in the host country.

Let’s not forget that in Colombia there is a history of sexual violence committed by US military officials. The most well-known case was that of Melgar v Cundinamarca, where in 2006 a mother denounced the sexual assault of her twelve year old daughter by two North American military officials. These men returned to the US and the case remained unpunished.  In addition there would be another 35 similar cases being investigated.

Militarization increases and intensifies violence against women; the logic of the war in Colombia has shown that the lives and bodies of women are treated as entities of control and power by the different political, military and economic forces. In the context of armed conflict these violations are exacerbated but are invisible. To date there are only 29 cases of sexual violence being investigated under the law of Justice and Peace that took effect in 2005.

We do not want to feed into the logic of this war. We do not want more foreign military personnel on our lands. What we need are agreements reached between Colombians and Colombians.

We call on the National Government to be transparent about their dealings and military agreements made with other countries.

We urge the Colombian Government to make the Cooperation agreement signed with the US available in its entirety.

We demand that civil society and the international community establish a system to oversee and monitor the impacts of military presence on women and their impacts in the communities where they are based.

We demand that the National Government complies with international obligations that protect women and girls from all forms of violence and put an end to the impunity of gender-based crimes.

To read the original press release in Spanish, click here.


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