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A Disaster For Colombia
Published on Friday, March 31, 2000 in the Madison Capital Times
A Disaster For Colombia

On the same day that President Clinton used a White House press conference to promote the $1.7 billion Colombian military aid package -- which Congress has considered as part of the fiscal year 2000 supplemental appropriations bill -- U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, took to the floor of the House to say, "No mas.''

Baldwin attacked the aid package as a misguided initiative that will not help the peace process in Colombia. She's right.

The aid package pushed by Clinton and congressional Republicans would spend a fortune to make everything in that Latin American country worse. It seeks to direct U.S. money into Colombia's military, while failing to address fundamental problems such as economic inequality, lack of economic development and a corrupt judiciary.

Baldwin "Peace is what Colombia needs. Peace will allow democracy to flourish; peace will permit law enforcement officials to combat the flow of illicit drugs; and peace will create the conditions to address the income inequalities, the problems of displaced persons and economic development issues that will truly improve the lives of Colombian people,'' said Baldwin.

"Unfortunately, the aid package we are considering today will not help the peace process,'' the Madison Democrat told the House. "In fact, it fails to address the underlying issues that are needed to promote peace in Colombia.''

Baldwin, who visited Colombia in 1993 when she was a member of the Wisconsin Assembly, has worked closely with the Madison-based Colombia Support Network to educate other House members about the failure of the Colombian military to make a serious effort to disband right-wing paramilitary groups. And she has long questioned whether sending more U.S. weapons to the South American country will result in a reduction of drug trafficking, as Clinton and his aides claim.

"Unfortunately, we seem to be playing a game of public relations when we should be pursuing peace in the region,'' says Baldwin.

2000 The Capital Times


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