Support human rights in Colombia

Cross Through November 24, a letter calling for change in U.S. policy towards Colombia will be circulating through the House of Representatives. This letter calls for a decrease in U.S. aid for Colombia's military and an increase in support for human rights and humanitarian efforts. This is our chance to get Congress behind the changes that the General Assembly called for in 2008 and have our government start standing by our brothers and sisters in Colombia.
The letter makes a strong case for why there is no time to waste in changing our policies towards Colombia. It paints a vivid picture of the Colombian government's failure to protect human rights, raising issues like the killing of civilians by the army, the persecution of human rights defenders, and the humanitarian crisis of over four million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Echoing what the General Assembly has been saying for a long time, it demands a cut in military aid and an increase in support for victims and those who are working for peace and justice in Colombia. It also calls for an end to harmful and ineffective aerial fumigations, investing instead in drug treatment in the United States.
At least 70 representatives need to back up the initiators of this letter – Representatives Jim McGovern, Jan Schakowsky, Donald Payne, and Mike Honda – by adding their signatures before it is sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The best way to persuade your member of congress to sign on is by calling his/her office and speaking directly with foreign policy staff, so please do it today!
How to Make an Effective Call
Check to make sure your Representative has not signed on yet. Click here to check our updated list of co-signers. Then, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be put through to your member of Congress. If you don't know who your representative is, click here. Ask the receptionist if you can speak with the Foreign Policy aide. If he/she is not available, ask to leave a message. A script that you can use in your phone call follows below, but feel free to add any personal stories or thoughts that you'd like to share.
General Assembly Guidance
The 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to do the following:
Call on the members and congregations of the PC(USA) to study the situation in Colombia , diligently pray for the work of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia , and advocate with senators, representatives, and the president of the United States to lay down the weapons of violence and support the nonviolent struggle of the churches and civil society of Colombia and those in the U.S. who stand beside Colombians to end the violence by:
1.    Withdrawing military support to the government of Colombia.
2.    Reorienting U.S. policies toward Colombia in such a way as to encourage a more equitable distribution of that country's immense wealth, and to protect the rights of groups threatened by the interests of large corporations, including indigenous people, Afro-Colombians, labor leaders, human rights workers, and many campesinos.
3.    Ending the aerial fumigation for coca crops and focusing on programs that provide higher levels of support for farmers to convert to alternative crops and that reduce demand for drugs in the United States.
4.    Transferring U.S. support to the growing civil society committed to democracy and nonviolence.
5.    Providing aid to strengthen health care, education, and nutrition, especially among the displaced.
6.    Increasing aid for resettlement of displaced persons in their homelands.

7.    Channeling aid through nongovernmental organizations.

The photo is by Sarah Henken, Coordinator of the Colombia Accompaniment Program.

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