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Santa Cruz City Council Calls for Ending Colombia Military Aid, Support for Treatment
by Liza Smith
Monday Jun 9th, 2008 3:53 PM
Armed with bazookas, instruments and colorful posters, residents of Santa Cruz will show their support in favor of a pending city resolution requesting that all US military aid to Colombia be re-directed to domestic drug prevention and rehabilitation programs, which have been shown to be more effective in the “war on drugs.” Bert Muhly of Tres Americas will speak on the issue, as well as Sandra Alvarez, long time Colombia activist and Ph.D candidate at the University of California Santa Cruz.
The Santa Cruz City Council will consider a resolution on Tuesday June 10th at 3:30pm calling for an end to military funding of the Colombian Army as part of the “drug war,” and re-direction of money to domestic drug treatment efforts.

The city government urged Congressman Sam Farr to “step up his leadership to terminate all military assistance to the Colombian Army, and to re-direct these funds” to “substance abuse prevention, harm reduction, and treatment programs.”

Supporters include the peace group Fellowship of Reconciliation, Tres Americas and local Colombian activists.

“The US has put almost five billion dollars into the Colombian military, and the army has committed massacres and collaborated with death squads and drug traffickers with almost total impunity,” said national campaign organizer Liza Smith of the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Latin America program. “It’s time US communities stand up for how they want their tax dollars spent.”

Military spending in Colombia was supposed to cut cocaine production in half by 2005. Instead, retail prices for the drug have dropped and purity has increased, according to the Office on National Drug Control Policy. Meanwhile, a recent study showed that killings of civilians by the Colombian army has increased since the U.S. overhauled military training of its forces.

“U.S. military aid is simply pouring gas on the fire,” said long-time Latin America activist and Latin America Program Officer at the Appleton Foundation, Phil McManus. “Sooner or later, Colombians will have to work out Colombian problems and resolve their conflicts. Cutting off military aid will contribute positively to the conditions necessary to build a future in Colombia rooted in peace and justice for its long-suffering people.”

The resolution encourages the Santa Cruz mayor to publicize the City Council’s action and send a letter to mayors elsewhere in California encouraging them to take a similar stand on this issue and to send copies of this Resolution to Representative Farr and to Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

This is the third of its kind in California (Berkeley and Fairfax have both passed similar resolutions) and the Fellowship of Reconicliation is working with other communities around the country who plan to pass similar local government resolutions.
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Food for thoughtTim RumfordThursday Jun 12th, 2008 6:04 PM