Toward a New Foreign Policy.In April 2001, over 100 Latin Americans--former heads of state, cabinet ministers, legislators, prominent authors, intellectuals, and civic leaders--called on President Bush to go back to the drawing board with his military-oriented support for Plan Colombia The term Plan Colombia is most often used to refer to controversial U.S. legislation aimed at curbing drug smuggling by supporting different Drug War activities in Colombia. . In a letter, they charged that the U.S.-backed antidrug campaign is fueling a bloody war, poisoning food crops and the environment, and forcing tens of thousands of poor farmers off their land. President Bush would do well to heed their advice, incorporating the following principles.
Support the peace process
Although no one is arguing that the peace process is proceeding smoothly, most observers in Colombia agree that it must move forward and deserves strong support. To escalate es·ca·late
v. es·ca·lat·ed, es·ca·lat·ing, es·ca·lates
To increase, enlarge, or intensify: escalated the hostilities in the Persian Gulf.
v.intr. U.S. military involvement even as the parties engage in negotiations is a contradiction. Washington should increase political support for the process and ensure that adequate financial resources are available.
Continue implementation of the Leahy Law The Leahy Law or Leahy provision is a human rights stipulation in U.S. congressional foreign assistance legislation. The Leahy Law prohibits U.S. military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.
U.S. security assistance should continue to be closely scrutinized to ensure that no units of the Colombian security forces--armed forces, intelligence units, and police forces--implicated in violations receive any U.S. aid. Washington should assist Colombian efforts to prosecute To follow through; to commence and continue an action or judicial proceeding to its ultimate conclusion. To proceed against a defendant by charging that person with a crime and bringing him or her to trial. those responsible for violations. Appropriate resources should be made available to ensure the best human rights vetting and end-use monitoring possible. Furthermore, Washington should publicly disclose the security force units slated to receive U.S. aid (including units being considered) to ensure full public discussion.
Vigorously pressure for concrete action against paramilitary groups The list of paramilitary groups includes all organized armed groups not officially considered a national military force. Groups are listed alphabetically, with the common name as the primary entry.
Washington should press for effective steps to dismantle dis·man·tle
tr.v. dis·man·tled, dis·man·tling, dis·man·tles
a. To take apart; disassemble; tear down.
b. paramilitary groups, such as: suspending any active-duty officer charged by the Colombian Attorney General's office with paramilitary par·a·mil·i·tar·y
Of, relating to, or being a group of civilians organized in a military fashion, especially to operate in place of or assist regular army troops.
n. pl. collaboration or human rights violations; executing the Attorney General's detention orders of paramilitary members; prosecuting in civilian courts any officers charged with paramilitary involvement or human rights violations; and fully implementing the often-announced but still undeployed (since 1989) Bloque de Busqueda, designed to find and detain de·tain
tr.v. de·tained, de·tain·ing, de·tains
1. To keep from proceeding; delay or retard.
2. To keep in custody or temporary confinement: paramilitary members.
Promote and support the rule of law
Even if the conflict in Colombia were to end overnight, human rights problems would not disappear. Human rights abuses are not all linked to the war. The so-called social cleansing killings, for instance, are targeting street children, among others. Resources should be made available to strengthen the Colombian judiciary and to protect its members from attack. Any intelligence personnel implicated im·pli·cate
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.
2. in violations should be turned over to Colombian civilian authorities for prosecution.
Support civil society
Human rights advocates and other sectors of civil society striving to support the peace process, human rights, and the rule of law need to be defended. U.S. assistance should support Colombian government efforts to protect civil society groups at risk of attack. Specifically, Washington should ask for periodic and public progress reports on the implementation of the Colombian government's commitment to investigate attacks against human rights advocates, to install security infrastructure for groups at risk, and to prosecute those implicated in such attacks.
Eliminate proposals contradictory to human rights
Washington's acknowledgement that its support for Plan Colombia with its "push into southern Colombia" will create more displaced displaced
see displacement. populations is a clear sign that the U.S. aid package has a fatal flaw. All programs should be evaluated in light of their impact on the local population. Those proposals deemed harmful should be discarded dis·card
v. dis·card·ed, dis·card·ing, dis·cards
1. To throw away; reject.
a. To throw out (a playing card) from one's hand.
b. . Clear, periodic, detailed, and public reporting requirements should be added, and more resources made available for end-use monitoring and human rights compliance.
Reevaluate counternarcotics strategies for Colombia and other source countries
As long as cocaine commands high prices on the world market and factors like undeveloped infrastructure limit alternative economic opportunities, peasants are going to grow coca and are going to participate in the lucrative drug trade. The U.S. government should work closely with the Colombian government and local authorities to ensure that alternative development programs and infrastructure investment reach and serve the local communities. Aerial spraying in Colombia needs to cease and a public evaluation commence as to its environmental, economic, and human impacts. In addition, Washington needs to open a broad, public, and rational discussion--devoid of finger pointing and political labeling--to evaluate the merits of other forms of dealing with the drug problem. This discussion should fully explore expanding demand-side programs, including public education and treatment in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. .
* The U.S. should fully support Colombia's peace process and evaluate any proposal in terms of its effect on the process, discarding proposals that will jeopardize jeop·ard·ize
tr.v. jeop·ard·ized, jeop·ard·iz·ing, jeop·ard·izes
To expose to loss or injury; imperil. See Synonyms at endanger. peace.
* End-use monitoring of security assistance and human rights vetting and monitoring need to be fully staffed and financially supported.
* Washington should eliminate any policy proposals that contradict con·tra·dict
v. con·tra·dict·ed, con·tra·dict·ing, con·tra·dicts
1. To assert or express the opposite of (a statement).
2. To deny the statement of. See Synonyms at deny. human rights protection or could negatively impact the local population.