Friday links Organized crime and the state
Nov 162009

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.

Here is the alert and calling instructions from the Latin America Working Group. The text of the letter is here.

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.

Click here to contact your representative today.

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 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!

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 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. Below, we’ve provided a script that you can use in your phone call, but feel free to add any personal stories or thoughts that you’d like to share.

Call script:

“I 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. McGovern’s office. Thank you.”

2. After you’ve made your call, if you have time, send a quick email to Vanessa, at, so we can track how many phones we’re ringing.

9 Responses to “Ask your member of Congress to sign this letter”

  1. Tambopaxi Says:

    Adam, FYI, I sent the email to my Congressman, Kevin McCarthy (CA-22). McCarthy’s a Republican and one of Cantor’s Deputy Whips to boot, but I think the McGovern letter is very good, so maybe (hopefully) he’ll sign it… Regards, Lars Klassen, Quito, Ecuador

  2. Jaime Bustos Says:

    I take my hat off to Adam, good initiative, worth to strive for :)

  3. Tambopaxi Says:

    I agree with Jaime (I don’t know how to do the little face things!).

  4. Randy Paul Says:

    Joe Crowley is my rep (NY-7). There’s a large Colombian emigre population in my neighborhood, I imagine he’ll sign on. I’ll call tomorrow.

  5. Marcos Says:

    The good:

    The letter is actually better than the “call script” you put up here.

    The bad:

    I suppose I can’t say anything else, about the letter or the call script, because it won’t suit the purposes of your lobby even if accuracy and honesty should be important in and of itself.

    So I’ll leave you be at the moment.



  6. Block Says:

    Marcos -

    How about backing up your cryptic condescension and self-righteousness with actual concrete ideas? You have the same smarmy insinuations in all of your posts, but I rarely see you trying to argue anything forthrightly, or trying to spread this “truth” that you speak of so elusively. Where are your facts? What real problem do you have with this letter, or Adam’s presentation of it? You obviously think of most of us as ignorant in some major way, so please enlighten us. If you don’t offer up some logical arguments, your posts will continue as they are: simply obnoxious.

  7. Marcos Says:

    I’ll bite then.

    Tell me, do you believe this statement (taken from above) is completely accurate?

    “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.”

    Let me mention most obvious point.

    I think anyone who has been paying attention to information about the wiretapping scandal knows that the military, in and of itself, doesn’t appear to be the main culprit. That doesn’t mean nobody from the military has been affected by the scandal, but it’s painfully obvious that the DAS and perhaps even the police are the two major parties involved, not the military.

    This statement makes it seem that the entire scandal is revolving around the military, period, which is misleading.



  8. Block Says:

    Thanks for biting, that does clear things up for me. And amazingly enough, I agree with you that it’s misleading, even though I hadn’t caught it before. I have to admit that I thought you were just blowing smoke earlier, but now I see that you have a legitimate concern. Thanks to the fact that you have mentioned specifically what bothers you (instead of just implying it), at least one more person will be a little more careful before accepting everything that is posted here. Everyone’s a winner.

  9. Plan Colombia and Beyond » Congressional letter is out Says:

    [...] aid request, which the State Department will issue to Congress in two months. This is the letter discussed in a post here in [...]

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