Fasting for Justice
In the wake of a dozen Vigils throughout the United States on January 11, 2000, Lori Berenson began a hunger fast. This news has been confirmed by the Peruvian prison authorities and the U.S. Embassy in Peru. This date represents the fourth anniversary of Lori's unjust conviction at gunpoint by a hooded military "judge". Her sentence, life imprisonment. Lori is also protesting the lack of help from her own government as well as the intransigence of the Peruvian government.
Please continue your calls and letters to President Clinton. He has an obligation as stated in Act of Congress (22 U.S.C., Section 1732) to come to the aid of any U.S. citizen wrongfully held in a foreign country. Ask the President to demand her immediate release. Four years is too long. Her health is failing.
As members of the Steering Committee of the Committee to Free Lori Berenson, the Office of the Americas will continue to foster actions nationally for Lori's freedom.
Voices in the Wilderness leader, Kathy Kelly began a month long fast Washington, D.C. on January 15, the birthday of Martin Luther King and the ninth anniversary of the beginning of the Gulf War. Crimes are committed every day in our name against the Iraqi people. Thousands of Iraqi children die every month because of our embargo. In 1991 a firestorm of bombs and weaponry shattered Iraq to its core. The civilian infrastructure was targeted including electrical grids and water sanitation plants. Weapons made with depleted uranium have left a toxic nuclear legacy for our troops as well as for the Iraqi people. U.S. planes have bombed Iraq for over nine years making this the longest bombing campaign since the Vietnam War. Kathy together with Voices in the Wilderness fasters asks you to contact your congressional representative, to notify your local media and, if possible to come to Washington, D.C. to visit and lobby lawmakers to end the crimes against the people of Iraq.
WASHINGTON PLANS TO "WIN" THE VIETNAM WAR IN COLOMBIA 1.6 BILLION FROM THE U.S. WILL SERVE TO INCREASE FLOW OF DRUGS
Colombia has a population of 39,309,422 people. This is more people than all of Central America put together. The Colombian people in a plebiscite have declared their choice for a negotiated solution in their long civil war. The children of Colombia in an unprecedented plebiscite have demanded a negotiated solution. The United Nations Office in Bogota has expressed its willingness to act as mediator. But the dogs of war keep barking from the Pentagon. General Charles Wilhelm, the head of the U.S. Southern Command is arguing for negotiations from the "battlefield" in Colombia. His reference to battlefield seems to be a flashback to the Civil War in the United States. There is no battlefield in Colombia, just as there was no battlefield in Vietnam. The entire country is in conflict. The United States is encouraging Colombia's Air Force to adopt a policy of shooting down "suspected" drug smuggling aircraft. Such was the fate of some 2,000,000 "suspected guerrillas" in Vietnam.
Perhaps the greatest charade of this entire plan for war is the idea that eliminating the rebels of Colombia will eliminate the drug business. Quite simply, if every rebel in Colombia were dead today the drug business would still be flourishing. Is there anyone who does not know that the drug business is connected to the Colombian government, the Colombian military and paramilitary, as well as to the U.S. Embassy in Colombia?
The time has come to protest Washington's plans for war in Colombia. The ignorance and malice, the disrespect for the people of Colombia and the people of the United States is literally unforgivable. Why will 1.6 billion dollars increase the flow of drugs? Because the planned aid will provide funds to the Colombian military which has collaborated with illegal paramilitary forces by forcing 1,000,000 people from their homes. The U.S. aid package will simply enhance the Colombian military's capacity for carrying out "dirty work" against Colombian citizens, including human rights workers, school teachers, union leaders, journalists, university professors and anyone else who tries to criticize Colombia's facade of democracy and its long history of impunity for those who commit or facilitate the committing of atrocities.
Hundreds of millions of dollars already wasted by the United States on the Colombian military to fight the hare brained "war on drugs" have neither slowed the entry of drugs from Colombia to the United States nor curbed human rights abuses by the Colombian military. We can expect the 1.6 billion package to result in more innocent Colombians killed, more military abuses of human rights and greater paramilitary involvement in massacres and displacement of the population. Since the security forces are reliably reported to be engaged in drug trafficking, we can expect the net impact of this "aid" to increase the flow of drugs from Colombia to the United States.
The illegal NATO bombing and destruction of Serbia which the Russians are currently imitating in Chechnya, included ignoring the international mission of the United Nations. The mediation of the United Nations in El Salvador and in Guatemala was received enthusiastically by both countries. Is it too much to ask of the United States that it conform to international law and foster a United Nations mediation in Colombia?
Our opinions on Colombia were confirmed by our personal presence in the war zones of Uraba in northern Colombia and our interviews with government, military and opposition leaders.
See: www.officeoftheamericas.org Also: www.igc.apc.org/csn/