Last Updated:5/3/02
Letter from Leo Gerard, president, United Steelworkers of America, April 23, 2002
April 23, 2002

By Facsimile Transmission (202) 225-1166

The Honorable Henry J. Hyde
Chairman, Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Re: Colombia Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002

Dear Chairman Hyde:

It has come to my attention that you will soon be marking up the above-referenced bill in the International Relations Committee. I understand that this bill, if passed into law, would eliminate all human rights conditions for military aid to Colombia. Indeed, it would eliminate such conditions not only for future aid appropriations but also for aid which has already been allocated by Congress but which has not been released because of the current human rights conditions - conditions which the U.S. State Department admits Colombia cannot meet.

I am writing to express my shock and alarm at the proposed measure to eliminate human rights restrictions on military aid to Colombia, and to strongly urge you to refrain from marking up this bill for presentation to Congress. As you most likely know, Colombia is unique in the violence which trade unionists suffer. Indeed, out of every 5 trade unionists murdered world-wide, over 3 are Colombian. Only last year, over 170 trade unionists were murdered in Colombia. And, over 50 trade unionists have already been murdered this year. The U.S. State Department's own Human Rights Report on Colombia indicates that most of these murders are carried out by right-wing paramilitary forces which continue to have close links with the military the U.S. is funding. This is simply unacceptable. The very effort to eliminate human rights restrictions on the appropriations to Colombia constitutes an admission that Colombia is not taking adequate measures to stop human rights violations; in particular, to stop the murder of trade unionists.

Any effort to eliminate human rights restrictions on aid to Colombia is immoral and an affront to organized labor everywhere. In light of this, I urge you to refrain from any further steps which would make the above-referenced bill into law. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Leo Gerard
International President

cc: James P. Hoffa, IBT General President (By Fax 202 624-8106)
John Sweeney, AFL-CIO President (By Fax 202 508-6946)
The Honorable Tom Lantos (By Fax 202 226-9789)
The Honorable Dick Gephardt (By Fax 202 225-7452)
The Honorable Dennis Hastert (By Fax 202 225-0697)
The Honorable William Coyne (By Fax 202 225-1844)
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr. (By Fax 202 225-0072)

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