A very good letter to Secretary of State Clinton, asking for several badly needed changes to U.S. policy toward Colombia, is currently circulating in the U.S. Congress. Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), Donald Payne (D-New Jersey) and Mike Honda (D-California) are asking their colleagues in the House of Representatives to sign on.
Please call your member of Congress and ask them to sign on to this letter. It is circulating at a good time, as the Obama administration develops the 2011 aid request it will issue to Congress in February. If the letter goes to the State Department with lots of signatures, it will have real influence on the future of U.S. assistance to Colombia.
As of November 6th, this letter, written by Representatives McGovern, Schakowsky, Payne, and Honda, is circulating throughout the halls of Congress with a clear message: let’s spend our taxpayer dollars on supporting victims of violence, not funding military abuses. This is our chance to get Congress behind the changes that we want to see 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 we have 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. To get all the details, click here to read the full letter.
But, this letter needs the support of many members of Congress to be effective. So, that’s why we need you make sure your congressional representative signs on now.
And don’t stop there: Tell your friends. Tell your family. Or just go ahead and forward this on to your whole address book! We won’t get another chance like this again for a long time, so let’s pull out all the stops and make it happen together!
From November 6th through 24th, a letter calling for change in U.S. policy towards Colombia will be circulating through the House of Representatives. This letter has our message, calling for a decrease in U.S. aid for Colombia’s military and an increase in support for human rights and humanitarian efforts.
Now, it’s up to us to use our grassroots power to get at least 70 representatives to back up the initiators of this letterâ€”Representatives Jim McGovern, Jan Schakowsky, Donald Payne, and Mike Hondaâ€”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!
Below we’ve given you simple instructions for making that call. Although it isn’t quite as effective as a phone call, if you would prefer to send an email to your representative, click here.
How to Make an Effective Call
1. 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 donâ€™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. Below, weâ€™ve provided a script that you can use in your phone call, but feel free to add any personal stories or thoughts that youâ€™d like to share.
â€œI am a constituent calling to encourage Representative ____________ to sign on to the Dear Colleague letter written by Representatives McGovern, Schakowsky, Payne, and Honda, which calls for change in U.S. policy towards Colombia. This letter to Secretary of State Clinton asks that our government be honest about the human rights conditions in Colombia and make changes in the aid package. The U.S. should stop spending taxpayer dollars on the military, which has been found to be killing innocent civilians and illegally wiretapping human rights defenders, journalists, and Supreme Court judges. Instead, we should be supporting refugees and displaced people, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, and small farmers who are trying to turn away from coca. And we also need to invest in drug treatment centers here at home. I strongly urge Representative ______ to take a stand for human rights and sign on to this letter today. To get a copy of the letter and to sign on, please contact Cindy Buhl in Rep. McGovernâ€™s office. Thank you.â€
2. After you’ve made your call, if you have time, send a quick email to Vanessa, at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can track how many phones we’re ringing.