U.S. to use Colombia Military Bases

Hello PAX friends!

Nathan and I have just recently returned from Colombia where we visited the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado. Almost every community member that we spoke with fervently asked us to multiply their stories of struggle and resistance with our friends in the United States–this collective memory, as I learned, is fundamental to the resistance and survival of the community.  We also heared first-hand how U.S. policy with Colombia has resulted in massacres, rapes, land displacement and human rights violations of Colombia’s most marginalized: campesinos, Afro-Colombians and indigenous peoples. While Nathan and I continue with processing and intergrating our experience we will proceed to update this blog so we all can learn about the Peace Community as an act of solidarity, and from the Peace Community as a means for personal and educational development–so please check-in again soon!

"No a las bases yanquis en Colombia" [No to the 'yankie' bases in Colombia] -- Universidad Nacional, Bogota

“No a las bases yanquis en Colombia” [No to the yankie bases in Colombia] — Universidad Nacional, Bogota

I am writing today because the United States and Colombia are currently discussing a plan to add U.S. military troops to 7 Colombian bases. As Across the Americas has stated, “That [the addition of U.S. troops] will gravely undermine Colombia’s national sovereignty and threaten the democratic and peaceful stability of the region.” Mainstream media–in both the United States and Colombia–will tell us that this is a good thing, that this will help the Colombian people. With fear, anger, sadness and exhaustion in their eyes, words and silences the Colombian people I spoke with clearly said “no” to U.S. troops inColombia–the idea crafts concerns of continued violence.

Will we let these voices be silenced?

Let’s think together how we can take action.

Please read the following statement released by the National Executive Committee of the Polo Democrático Alternativo in Colombia.

We Say No to U.S. Military Bases in Colombia

Polo Democrático Alternativo, PDA
National Executive Committee                                               

Bogotá, July 30, 2009

1. The government of Alvaro Uribe has announced a decision to grant the United States the use of military bases on national territory by way of an agreement that would place all of the Colombian land mass at U.S. disposal for all types of military operations inside and outside of our country. Within Colombia a foreign army would become involved in the internal armed conflict thereby exacerbating confrontation and making peace more elusive. Colombia would also become a military stationing platform for aggressive expansion of the North American world power in our region, impacting the stability of neighboring democratic and progressive governments and interfering with important plans toward the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean.

2. In addition to making a disgrace of our national sovereignty, Uribe’s decision turns Colombia into a foothold for the U.S. and its allies to carry out their plans of attacking Latin American nations that do not toe the U.S. line or that weaken its continental hegemony. It is part and parcel of an offensive by reactionary forces and the empire, which recently staged the coup d’etat in Honduras against the legitimate president of that country, José Manuel Zelaya.

3. This unwarranted concession is contrary to the Colombian Constitution. Both the articles relevant to these matters as well as the appropriate decision-making processes were disrespected. This is one of the most flagrant violations against a Government of Laws committed by the Uribe administration.

4. War is a lucrative business for a small group of multinational corporations that live off their security and defense contracts with the State Department and the Pentagon. Behind the façade of a war against narco-trafficking and terrorism we find the highly profitable operations of the military industrial complex ranging from arms and munitions production to contracts with mercenary outfits around the globe.

5. The increasing submission of the Colombian military to the U.S. continues the failed anti-drug policy outlined by Plan Colombia. It will mean the worsening of the economic, social and environmental problems that Colombia has endured for more than a decade and the further deterioration of the humanitarian and human rights crisis.

6. Even less acceptable is the application of judicial immunity to the North American military and mercenaries who will be given diplomatic protection for any and all crimes committed in Colombia. The precedent established by criminal acts perpetrated by United States’ military personnel here and in other countries by logic transforms the so-called immunity into a grant of impunity.

Given the above considerations, the Polo Democratico Alternativo-PDA- issues:

a) an  invitation to political and social organizations, intellectuals, advocates of democracy and human rights activists in Colombia and the continent, to meet soon to reach agreement on a common agenda and a statement against this decision, which undermines Colombia’s national sovereignty and affects the democratic and peaceful stability of the region.

b) a call for a National Day of Mobilization and Protest against war and the military bases in Colombia, in defense of national sovereignty, and for peace in the region.

c) a call for a national and continental campaign against U.S. militarization and intervention in Latin America which we hope will be joined by progressive and democratic forces throughout the world.

d) the expression of sentiments of friendship, solidarity and support for all nations of Latin America, their peoples and the governments which legitimately represent them.

— translated by Mingas, http://mingas.info/

And recently released…

August 13, 2009
5:49 PM

Religious and Grassroots Leaders Urge Clinton to Suspend Military Base Talks With Colombia

Bases deal “presents enormous dangers for entire hemisphere”

NATIONWIDE – August 13 – Over one hundred religious, national, community organizations and leaders and academics today called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “suspend negotiations for expanded U.S. military access or operations in Colombia,” a plan that has generated a swell of protest among Latin American countries, including Colombia, the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the hemisphere.

“It is rational for regional leaders to see the installation of several U.S. military sites in Colombia as a potential threat to their security,” the groups said, because of U.S. support for trans-border attacks from Colombia, reported violations of the expiring base agreement with Ecuador, a Pentagon statement that it seeks access for “contingency operations” in the region, and the painful history of U.S. military intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“To broaden relationships with South America and value respect for human rights, the United States should not create a fortress in Colombia in concert with the region’s worst rights violators, the Colombian military,” the letter said.

Signatories included 20 national religious organizations and leaders and 32 U.S. peace and human rights groups, as well as community organizations, academics, and international NGOs.

The leaders wrote to Clinton as many South American presidents have expressed opposition to the increased U.S. military presence in Colombia. Brazilian President Lula da Silva urged President Obama to joined presidents from the South American Union to discuss the issue later this month in Buenos Aires, and Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said that “the winds of war are blowing” because of the plan for U.S. troops to operate in seven Colombian bases.

For background documents on the military base negotiations between the United States and Colombia, see www.forcolombia.org/bases

CONTACT: Broad Coalition

John Lindsay-Poland, Fellowship of Reconciliation,               510-282-8983       . johnlp@igc.org
Nnenna Ozobia, Transafrica Forum,               202-553-7186       . nozobia@transafricaforum.org
Cristina Espinel, Colombia Human Rights Committee,               202-997-1358       . colhrc@igc.org
Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, cell:               217-979-2857       . naiman@justforeignpolicy.org
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, cell:               415-235-6517       . medea@globalexchange.org


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