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House Approves
$1.7 Billion in Military Aid
For Colombia


CUT Leader
Talks with
UE Members

Hovis, Cespedes, Thompson
Patricia Buritica Cespedes, a member of the National Executive Committee of Colombia’s largest union federation, the CUT told union members in Pittsburgh last month that the $1.7 billion military aid package pushed by the Clinton Administration will wreck the peace process in her country. Talks between the government and guerrillas offer the best chance of social stability and curbing trafficking, said Buritica, who is director of the CUT Women’s Dept. She is pictured with UE Genl. Pres. John Hovis and UE Local 690 Vice Pres. John Thompson, who serves as District 6 political action co-chair.

The House of Representatives on March 29 approved a $1.7 billion military aid package for Colombia. The bill passed 263 to 146; it now goes to the Senate, where a vote is expected in late May.

Republicans backed President Clinton in voting for the measure, which is intended to curb drug trafficking. A number of House Democrats opposed the measure. "We’re being asked to enter into a huge new commitment to underwrite a war in Colombia," said Rep. David Obey (D., Wis.).

Big U.S. military contractors, and corporations with interests in Colombia, lobbied heavily for greater U.S. involvement in the South American nation.

Many familiar with events in Colombia say the Clinton strategy is doomed to failure, and will involve the U.S. in a civil war that goes far beyond the drug trade. Increased military aid will involve the U.S. deeper in support of a brutal and corrupt military that cooperates with right-wing paramilitary groups, which are often themselves implicated in the drug trade.

UE opposes military aid for Colombia, pointing out the role of the military and death squads in making that country the world’s most dangerous place to be a trade unionist. "Massive infusions of military aid will not only increase the number of deaths and massacres carried out by all the armed groups, but will also strengthen hard-liners in Colombia who oppose the peace process," say UE’s national officers in a letter to President Clinton.

UE News - 04/00

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