Three influential U.S. Congressmen say their country’s agreement with Colombia on the use of military bases adversely affects Colombia’s development, newspaper El Tiempo reported on Tuesday.
“We are very concerned that an increased military presence in Colombia will exacerbate the failures of Plan Colombia and continue to focus on the financing of the armed forces instead of development and the law,” they said.
Tammy Baldwin, James McGovern and Jan Schakowsky are authors of a letter that has been circulated amongst House Democrats on 3 September regarding Colombia, collecting signatures in order to be sent to President Obama, recommending a “cautious approach”, the newspaper reported.
The reitierate the findings of a recent report by the Comptroller General of the Congress, which concluded that Plan Colombia has not managed to reduce the flow of illicit drugs to the United States. The 1998 plan devised with Colombia’s then-President Andrés Pastrana, aimed to end the armed conflict and curb drug activity.
In their letter, the congressmen also express concern regarding the high number of human rights violations attributed to the Colombian military.
“Human rights organizations have documented the involvement of military and paramilitary groups in Colombia, in many cases been carried out extrajudicial killings, disappearances and displacement of peasants, Afro-Colombians and indigenous peoples,” said the letter.
The United States and Colombia recently negotiated a deal to allow Washington access to seven military bases in the country. The agreement has generated controversy, with everyone from Colombian students to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decrying the pact.