Magazine article The Christian Century

Church Activists Oppose Colombian Peace Plan

Magazine article The Christian Century

Church Activists Oppose Colombian Peace Plan

Article excerpt

As Colombia prepares for a visit by President Clinton, church leaders and human rights activists have warned that expanded U.S. military assistance to the war-torn country will in fact increase the level of violence and swell the number of displaced people.

Clinton will travel to the Colombian city of Cartagena on August 30 to meet Colombia's President Andres Pastrana. For security reasons, however, he will spend only a few hours in the country.

Last month the Clinton administration approved $1.3 billion in aid for Pastrana's "Plan Colombia," an ambitious program to eradicate illegal coca production and end the crippling war with armed groups. The number of U.S. troops will increase dramatically under the latest aid package, which includes 63 high-tech military helicopters for the Colombian military and police.

President Clinton's visit to Cartagena is intended to provide moral support for Pastrana's campaign to bring peace to Colombia. But church activists and others who work with the victims of violence strongly oppose Pastrana's military solution to Colombia's seemingly endless war.

"Plan Colombia is not really a plan for peace, it's a plan for more war and more death," said Antony Sanchez, the executive director of the Mennonite Development Foundation of Colombia. "It's difficult to believe that ripping out a few more illicit coca fields is going to solve anything. …

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