In an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, three Democratic U.S. senators on Tuesday asked Washington to decrease military aid to Colombia.
The senators requested that the U.S. focus more on supporting justice, law enforcement, humanitarian assistance and development within the country.
In the letter, Senators Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Christopher Dodd (Connecticut) and Russell Feingold (Wisconsin) expressed their concerns about military spending under Plan Colombia, a program originally planned to last five years, which is currently in its eleventh year.
“We remain troubled by the so-called ‘falsos positivos’ scandal, in which Colombian soldiers killed hundreds of civilians and dressed them in guerrilla clothing in order to inflate body counts. Human rights groups estimated that at least 1,700 innocent civilians were executed by troops eager to qualify for cash bonuses and extra days off, and the Attorney General’s Office [Prosecutor General’s Office] has accepted 1,056 cases,” the letter said.
According to the senators, the Colombian state is guilty of grave human rights violations and provides a general impunity for state agents who violate human rights. Leahy, Dodd and Feingold argue that improving justice and law enforcement programs and achieving peace in Colombia should be government priorities in the coming year.
The Democrats also argued that the possibility of third term for President Uribe “threatens to further erode the checks and balances that help protect Colombia’s fragile democracy.”
From 2000-2009, the US has provided nearly $7 billion in aid to Colombia.