The Latin American Working Group Education Fund, Washington Office on Latin America, Center for International Policy, and U.S. Office on Colombia have just released Compass for Colombia Policy, which makes a strong case for a bold, new U.S. approach in Colombia aimed at ending impunity and strengthening respect for human rights.
With a human rights compass guiding them, President Obama and the new Congress must make clear that the United States will:
- Support and protect human rights defenders and victims. The U.S. must stand by and empower the truly courageous individuals—human rights advocates, victims, judges, prosecutors, trade leaders, and countless others—who are the driving forces for a more just and peaceful Colombia.
- Demand an end to the military’s human rights violations. Despite assurances that the Colombian army’s human rights record would improve with U.S. training, the army has carried out hundreds of extrajudicial killings of unarmed civilians. The U.S. must ensure that these abuses are investigated and ended.
- Actively support overtures for peace. The United States cannot continue endlessly bankrolling war. The immense suffering of the civilian population demands that the United States takes risks to achieve peace. Careful, renewed efforts could yield real progress.
- Invest in institutions and fight impunity. In Colombia, human rights violators are still rarely brought to justice for their crimes. The U.S. must invest in–and demand accountability from–the institutions charged with investigating human rights abuses and politicians’ ties to illegal armed groups.
- Get serious—and smart—about drug policy. The U.S. must stop bankrolling the inhumane and ineffective aerial spraying program, and instead invest strategically in alternative development projects for small farmers in rural Colombia and drug treatment programs here at home.
With a new administration and Congress, we will have an extraordinary opportunity to change U.S. policy in Colombia to reflect our values of peace, justice, and human rights—but to achieve that change we need you to take action.
Here’s what you can do to make real change a reality:
- Send a copy of the Compass to your representative and senators—especially important if they’ve just been elected.
- Meet with your member of Congress in their district office and encourage them to support a new direction in U.S. policy towards Colombia.
- Sign our petition to President-elect Obama here.
Now let’s get to work!