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Take Action: Sign on for peace in Colombia

Posted on: Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Keywords: Colombia, Peace Building, Human Rights Advocacy, Latin America and the Caribbean

Join MADRE in signing on to this letter from Alliance for Global Justice:


Send a letter to new President Santos!

Dear Friend,

In the final week of Alvaro Uribe's Colombian presidency, Colombia continues to generate a regional crisis in South America. Please join Alliance for Global Justice, SOA Watch, Noam Chomsky, and others in signing on to the following letter calling for a peaceful resolution. Please distribute it to your networks as well. The letter will be delivered to in-coming Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and cc'ed to UNASUR President Nestor Kirchner and OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza on Aug. 7, the date of Santos' inauguration.

To sign on, please send an email to paz4colombia@gmail.com. For organizational sign-ons, include your name and organization. Indicate if the organization should be listed as "For identification only." For individuals, please include your name, city, state, and country. The deadline for sign-ons is 5pm EDT, August. 5.

This letter is very similar to a recent letter delivered to Secretary General Insulza and all OAS Ambassadors on the morning when Colombia presented it's complaint that Venezuela is harboring guerrillas of the FARC and ELN. If you are like me, you were reminded of Sec. of State Colin Powell's UN performance proporting to prove that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. (If you signed on to the OAS letter, please send an email to paz4colombia@gmail.com informing us that you want to sign on to this one as well.

Regional tensions in the Andes are very high and the situation is dangerous. Please join us in calling for a peaceful normalization of relations and for a negotiated peace to the 60 year-old civil war in Colombia.

Chuck Kaufman
Alliance for Global Justice




President Juan Manuel Santos
Casa Nariño
Carrera 8 No.6-26;
Edificio Administrativo: Calle 7 No.6-54
Bogota, Colombia

August 7, 2010

Dear President Santos,

We, the undersigned, wish to express our strong support for progress in the establishment of a constructive regional dialogue around the internal conflict in Colombia and its impact on neighboring countries. We consider this dialogue - based on mutual trust and respect - to be essential to the construction of a lasting peace in Colombia and to regional stability.

Civil society organizations in the United States and in Latin America, as well as regional bodies including the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), have worked tirelessly to open doors for dialogue and seek a more comprehensive approach to Colombia's bloody 60 year old civil war. Unfortunately, Colombia, under the Uribe government, focused instead on a policy of increased militarization that has claimed an enormous human and material toll, especially for Colombia's Afro descendant and indigenous communities. We urge you, as president, to open a new chapter in Colombian history, its relationship with its citizens, and with its neighbors.

The Uribe administration left behind it a dismal human rights record that is the direct product of the so-called democratic security policy first implemented in 2003. Along with over 20,000 deaths of combatants, thousands of civilian non-combatants have been killed according to human rights groups. Over 2,000 extrajudicial killings allegedly perpetrated by Colombia's armed forces are currently under investigation by the country's Prosecutor-General. Meanwhile, the number of internally displaced in Colombia has reached the millions and hundreds of thousands of Colombians have sought exile in neighboring countries.

Former President Uribe also has left a sad record in the foreign policy realm given the troubling actions his government has taken in the regional arena and his refusal to consult affected countries before taking these actions. His government's decision in 2008 to invade and bomb Ecuadoran territory without any regard for that country's sovereignty led to a regional crisis that continues to have repercussions to this day. His decision in 2009 to sign an agreement with the United States that greatly enhances the US military presence in Colombia, has led to further tensions with countries throughout South America that are historically wary of any form of US military buildup in the region.

In the final days of his government, President Uribe once again chose to provoke a neighbor - in this case Venezuela - rather than engage in much needed dialogue. With his government's decision to make unsubstantiated accusations before the OAS against the Chavez government at a crucial moment of transition that should offer a unique opportunity for putting relations with Venezuela on a new path, Uribe once again demonstrated his preference for conflict over dialogue.

Yet we wish nonetheless to express our hope that Colombia's internal situation and external relations can and will improve. President Santos, you undoubtedly bear a share of the responsibility for the security policies implemented by Uribe, given that you were Colombia's defense minister from 2006 to 2009. However, your pre-inaugural statements suggest that you may be willing to turn a new page, to begin writing a new chapter. It is our hope, both for Colombia and for the future stability of the region, that now that you are in office you will seek to significantly revise the harmful security policies put in place by former President Uribe and to work in earnest to rebuild relations with the rest of the region.

Hope for real change in Colombia lies on the horizon. We strongly urge the new Colombian administration to foster improved dialogue, and a negotiated peace, within Colombia as well as with neighboring countries as Colombians move forward in constructing a more peaceful and democratic nation. Nothing less is owed to the thousands of Colombians who have been victims of this bloody conflict or who have been displaced or exiled in foreign lands for more than half a century.

Sincerely,
[see partial list below]

cc: UNASUR President Nestor Kirchner
OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza

Signers (list open until Aug. 5, 5pm EDT)
Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Founder, SOA Watch
Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice
Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor emeritus, MIT
Marjorie Cohn, Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and Deputy Secretary
General of International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Katherine Hoyt, Ph.D., National Co-Coordinator, Nicaragua Network
James Jordan, National Coordinator, Campaign for Labor Rights
Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director, OFFICE OF THE AMERICAS
Dale Sorensen Director, Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas
Judy Somberg, Attorney, Cambridge, MA, National Lawyers Guild*
Daniel Kovalik, Senior Associate General Counsel, United Steelworkers, AFL-CIO (USW)
Tim Jeffries, Bend-Condega Friendship Project*
Erin Cox, 8th Day Center for Justice, Chicago, IL*
Barbara Larcom, Casa Baltimore/Limay
Diana Bohn, Co-Coordinator, Nicaragua Center for Community Action (NICCA), Berkeley, CA
Gunnar and Xiomara Gundersen, Oregon Bolivarian Circle
Edward L. Osowski, St. Francis Xavier church, La Grange, Illinois, Peace and Justice Committee*
Rev. Ann Marie Coleman, Chicago, IL
Chris Benson, Loves Park, IL
Colleen Rose, Novato, CA
Debra Evenson, Attorney
Yifat Susskind, Policy & Communications Director, MADRE


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