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Home Facts Victims and Survivors Colombia San Jose Massacre Sample Materials Sample Letter/ Petition to Congress
Sample Letter/ Petition to Congress PDF Print E-mail
[Today's date]

Dear [Member of Congress],

We write to you as members of [X community group, town, church, etc] to express great concern over the lack of accountability in U.S. foreign military training and U.S. assistance to Colombia, and to ask for your support in suspending operations at the SOA/ WHINSEC and in creating a new policy towards Colombia that strengthens human rights protections.

In February of this year, eight civilians were massacred in the peace community of San Jos? de Apartad?. We are profoundly concerned that witnesses have alleged that members of the 11th and 17th Brigades of the Colombian Army may be directly or indirectly responsible for these murders, along with members of local paramilitary organizations.

We are deeply disturbed that the leader of the 17th Brigade was in fact trained here in the United States at the US Army?s School of the Americas. General H?ctor Jaime Fandi?o Rinc?n attended the ?Small-Unit Infantry Tactics? course in order to become ?familiar with small-unit operational concepts and principles at the squad and platoon level? [to] receive training in planning and conducting small-unit tactical operations.?

These are serious allegations, especially in light of the fact that Colombian and international human rights organizations have made public on a number of occasions threats made against the members of the peace community by these same armed actors. This terrible human rights violation, possibly at the hands of a US-trained General, signals the importance of challenging a blanket reauthorization of plan Colombia and the significance of supporting HR 1217.

In the interest of forging a more just and constructive U.S. policy, we ask that you:
  • Support HR 1217, which would suspend operations at SOA/ WHINSEC and call for an investigation of the use of torture manuals at the school.

  • Urge the State Department to withhold the human rights certification necessary to release military assistance for Colombia until there is a transparent, impartial investigation and prosecution by civilian authorities of the authors of the San Jos? de Apartad? massacre and greater progress in ending impunity and breaking army-paramilitary links.

  • Pressure the Government of Colombia through dear colleague letters, meetings, and statements to make greater progress in breaking army-paramilitary ties and prosecuting army officials implicated in other violations. Congressional pressure on this issue is crucial, as even the most notorious cases have stalled or been dismissed from Colombian courts.

  • Offer or support amendments to the 2006 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill to decrease aid to Colombia?s military and to oppose funding that would support institutions like the SOA/ WHINSEC which continue to offer training to Colombian security forces with little to no subsequent evaluation or tracking.

  • Turn attention back to strengthening treatment and prevention programs in the United States. If you really care about the impact of drug abuse, make sure treatment is available to all who seek it.

We urge you to take a strong role in defining the direction of U.S. policy in Colombia and in the training of Latin American security forces. Plan Colombia?s time is up, and the clock is ticking on the culture of impunity that pervades Colombian military forces. Please oppose the extension of Plan Colombia and support HR 1217 so that the United States may assist in the creation of conditions for peace in a region long ravaged by the violence of war.

Thank you for your attention to these important matters.


[Name, address]

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