To the United States Congress: Do not provide financial or political support for Colombia’s negotiations with the narco-terrorist group FARC
We respectfully ask members of the U.S. Congress to oppose financial aid to Colombia destined to implement agreements between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC. Additionally, we urge you to oppose any political support for the negotiations and stand, instead, with the people of Colombia, who have borne the brunt of the violence and persecution that the FARC has unleashed on both the civilian population and the armed forces for decades.
While Colombians yearn for peace, the overwhelming majority are against the main points of the Santos-FARC agreement: impunity for FARC atrocities, political viability of FARC terrorists, granting of territory to FARC control, and a terrorist group allowed to keep its weapons and its illegal proceeds. Colombians understand that such an agreement will not bring peace, but will empower the FARC, whose self-proclaimed goal is – as it always has been – to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government.
U.S. support for the Santos-FARC agreement will serve to condemn the Colombian people to live in a narco-failed State. It will help propel to power the terrorists who have targeted U.S. companies, kidnapped and murdered U.S. citizens as “military objectives”, and flooded U.S. markets with cocaine and heroin for decades. With autocratic regimes resurging in the hemisphere — as observed in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia — Colombia has remained the U.S.’s oldest and staunchest ally in the region. But funding and supporting the Santos-FARC agreement is a betrayal to the people who have fought drug trafficking and terror alongside the U.S., and a waste of the $10 billion U.S. tax payers invested in that endeavor.
For 10 years, through Plan Colombia, the U.S. and Colombia successfully cooperated to disrupt and destroy much of the FARC’s drug business. But in the last five years, and throughout the peace process, the FARC has become stronger, richer, and better armed. While “negotiating peace”, the FARC have continued to purchase weapons, they are once again the world’s leading producers of cocaine, the third wealthiest terrorist group in the world, and one of the most brutal.
This month the UN revealed that the number of FARC armed attacks tripled in 2015, compared to 2014, and resulted in the displacement of 3,700 families – this in what is supposed to be the final stretch of the “peace” negotiations. Not a single kidnap hostage of the estimated 2,700 still held by the FARC has been released throughout the negotiations. The FARC, who still hold about 2,000 children as sex-slaves and combatants in their camps, have not released a single one and have continued to forcibly recruit children – whose average age, according to UNICEF, is 12 years old. Despite agreeing to a landmine removal initiative, they have admitted that they have laid new mines wherever they have been removed by the Army. Extortion in rural areas has skyrocketed. And while speaking of “peace,” the FARC feel emboldened enough to continue issuing death threats, and declaring anyone opposed to the negotiations as “an enemy of peace” and, therefore, “a military objective”. Last month they issued such a threat against the leader of the Rancher’s Association and his family, with no reaction from the Santos government.
Public statements by the Santos government that the FARC has no illegal proceeds, that they are not drug traffickers, that they should be removed from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, and that they are trustworthy are disingenuous and should give the U.S. pause as to the Santos government’s own trustworthiness.
Also false is President Santos’ claim that Colombians will have the final say on peace negotiations. Having publicly promised a referendum, Santos has disavowed it and just as publicly denied ever having proposed it. He then proposed a plebiscite, but lowered the threshold needed for approval from 51 percent to 13 percent – though even that process has been frozen. Instead, Santos proposed legislation that would create a hand-picked committee to ratify the agreements, by-passing Congress and the Colombian people. He has also introduced legislation that would give him rule-by-decree power to enact all agreements reached with the FARC. These are not steps toward democratization, but point to a growing autocratic regime.
Colombians do not want to be ruled by a well-armed, drug-funded band of terrorists, who through no act of truth, contrition, atonement or restitution have been given political status. It would be devastating not only to Colombia, but to the stability of the region.
If the U.S. Congress wants to help re-establish democracy, human rights, justice and the rule of law in Colombia, it must not fund or endorse the Santos-FARC agreements.
This petition is filed on behalf of the following non-governmental organizations and individuals: Verdad Colombia; UnoAmerica; Ricardo Puentes Melo, Director of Periodismo Sin Fronteras; Jaime Restrepo, Director of the Association of Victims of Terrorist Guerrillas (AVGT); Fernando Vargas Quemba, Director of the National Committee for Victims of the Guerrillas (VIDA); Libardo Botero, Director of Periodico Debate; journalists Eduardo Mackenzie, Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Andres Candela; historian and Universidad de Antioquia professor Dario Acevedo Carmona; writer and former member of the Peace Commission Jaime Jaramillo Panesso and all the undersigned.