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Senate Sends Secretary Rice Letter on Civilian Killings by Colombian Army

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At the end of last month, Senators Dodd (D-CT) and Feingold (D-WI) sent a “dear colleague” letter to Secretary of State Rice expressing concern over the increase in civilian killings by the Colombian Army in recent years. Click here to read the letter and here to see if your senators signed it. Many thanks to everyone who called in and wrote emails to their senators—sending a strong human rights message to Secretary Rice would not have been possible without our collective efforts!

As you may recall, hundreds of churches in the U.S. and Colombia joined together last year in prayer and action for peace in Colombia. Now churches and activists in both countries are preparing to commemorate the third annual Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia on April 27 and 28, 2008. With additional thousands “caught in the crossfire” and forced to flee their homes in 2007, it’s time to take action to make sure the voices calling for peace in Colombia are heard in the halls of Congress. Check out www.peaceincolombia.org or email Travis at twheeler@lawg.org to learn what you can do to get your congregation and community involved.

In its final foreign aid request, the Bush Administration has sought to reverse the positive new direction in aid to Colombia by returning to the same failed approaches of the past. If the request became law, funding for the military would again make up nearly 80 percent of U.S. aid to Colombia, while support for institutions responsible for investigating human rights abuses would be cut.

Since we’ve been talking so much to our elected officials about human rights in Colombia, this “back to the future” approach is not likely to find much support in the Congress—but this is no time for us to rest. Earlier this week, President Bush called approval of the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement “pivotal to America’s national security” and news reports are suggesting the administration may introduce the agreement in Congress soon after the upcoming Easter recess. When this happens, we must be ready to tell our representatives to vote NO on the U.S.-Colombia FTA—and we’ll have to make sure they hear us loud and clear. We will email you soon with more information and specific ideas for action, so be ready!