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Protest Against Escalation of War in Colombia

February 22nd Emergency Action in Chicago. Peace process canceled by Pastrana's government. Troops enter the demiliatrized zone and bombing by Colombia Air force begun. U.S. intervention expanding the war in Colombia.

Friday, February 22, emergency protests were held in Chicago and other cities around the US, to protest the escalation of the war in Colombia. In Chicago twenty people picketed and handed out informational flyers outside the Colombia consulate in downtown Chicago, in an action called by the Colombia Solidarity Committee. Earlier in the day other peace activist organizations in Chicago held a vigil outside the building and delivered a letter of protest to the Consul General.

On Thursday, February 21, 2002, the Colombian Government of Pastrana broke off peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Pastrana, and the U.S. Generals who direct Colombia’s Military, began attacking the demilitarized Zone. Pilots bombed 85 locations within the Zone in the first 24 hours of the attack. Several hundred regular army troops moved into the Zone and Colombia media reported that some 11,000 troops were being mobilized in the area. Colombian human rights organizations expressed fears that, as is usual in Colombia, the military would open a path for the entrance of the paramilitary forces of the AUC into the area. This attack on the demilitarized zone came less than a month after Pastrana’s government and the FARC reestablished the peace dialogue and the government signed off on an extension of the Zone until April 10, 2002. The Zone, established to facilitate peace talks between, has been the most peaceful and safest part of Colombia for civilians because the Colombian Army and their Paramilitary death squads have not operated there. No longer. Plan Colombia has come to the Zone

The U.S. directed Plan Colombia so far has spent $2.1 billion of U.S. taxpayer money on deadly fumigations and a dirty war against the people’s movements. The U.S. fumigation campaign has only pushed more poor peasants into starvation. U.S. monies have supplied the Colombian army and, through the army, the AUC with helicopters and more weaponry. Human rights violations against large numbers of civilians and social justice activists are increasing. This year paramilitary death squads are killing on average one trade unionist every other day. No wonder that support for the FARC and its demands for economic and social justice continues to grow in the countryside and among the urban poor and workers.

The Bush-Cheney White House, following the Plan Colombia created by Clinton and Gore, want war, war, and more war. Just last month, the U.S. State Department announced a new counter-insurgency effort in Colombia and now we see it at work. At stake for U.S. corporate oil interests, like Occidental Oil and Harken oil (which just announced its discovery of new oil fields in southern Colombia) are the billions of dollars of oil profits threatened by the insurgency and social movements in Colombia.

T. Burke and V. Cervantes for the Colombia Solidarity Committee, Chicago



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