Subject: [+Colombia+] Military bases sign-on letter - pls distribute widely
From: Across the Americas <email@example.com>
Attached and below is a sign-on letter, generated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, on the proposed military base agreement between Colombia and the United States. The letter is a response to the growing tension in the region provoked by t he announcement of US military sites in Colombia.
This is an “organizational” sign-on letter; please endorse either with name, title and organization or as an organization. If you distribute to your networks, please include this note.
Please respond by the end of Monday, August 10, to John Lindsay-Poland, Fellowship of Reconciliation, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions, contact John by email or at 510-763-1403.
Many thanks for your concern.
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
Department of State
2201 C St. NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary of State Clinton:
We write to you with urgent concern about the recently disclosed negotiations for U.S. military access to seven=2 0military bases in Colombia, and their impacts on quickly deteriorating relations in the Andean region between those nations and with the United States. We also write with fundamental concerns about the effects of the proposed agreement on drug policy objectives and on promoting respect for human rights that are central to our values.
We affirm what President Obama told hemispheric leaders in April, that, “if our only interaction with many of these countries is drug interdiction -- if our only interaction is military -- then we may not be developing the connections that can over time increase our influence and have a beneficial effect.” Yet establishing military installations in the area with broad and ambi guous mandates is an investment in military responses to everything from poverty to bilateral tensions.
A hastily negotiated agreement for access to military sites in Colombia presents enormous dangers for the entire hemisphere. Leaders from Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua have responded critically and publicly to the proposed installations, with measures ranging from suspending diplomatic relations, to suggesting blocking trade.
The potential consequences of aggravated tensions in the region are wide and deep. In the context of the coup in Honduras, the sense of instability in Latin America is acute. Furthermore, Venezuela is Colombia’s second largest trading partner, sharing over $7 billion annually in trade. Even a temporary suspension of bilat eral trade will create substantial hardships for many ordinary people. Should relations between Colombia and Venezuela deteriorate further, the U.S. military presence could lend itself to use by Colombia as a cover for acts that escalate conflict, knowing that the United States will act to protect its assets.
In the current context, it is rational for regional leaders to see the installation of several U.S. military sites in Colombia as a potential threat to their security. The basis for this perception includes the following:
* The illegal cross-border attack by Colombian forces on a FARC camp in Ecuadorean territory in March 2008, precipitating a rupture in diplomatic relations between Colombia and Ecuador, which20have still not been restored. President Obama indicated at the time that he supported this attack.
* The Colombian government has accused high-level officials of Venezuela and Ecuador of assisting the FARC, based on evidence that is disputed by those governments, giving an international dimension to the counter-terrorism mission of armed forces in Colombia.
* Although the Manta agreement was exclusively for aerial counter-drug monitoring and interdiction, U.S. forces in Manta carried out operations to arrest undocumented Ecuadorans on boats in Ecuadoran waters. Although the proposed access agreement for Colombia presumably would prohibit cross-border operations without permission of the third country, violations of the agreement for use of the Manta site raise legitimate doubts for leaders of neighboring countries.
* The Defense Department says that it seeks “an array of access arrangements for contingency operations, logistics, and training in Central/South America.”
* USSOUTHCOM aims to establish a base with “air mobility reach on the South American continent” through the year 2025, according to the Air Mobility Command.
* Establishing an expanded U.S. military presence in Colombia evokes the long and painful history of U.S. military interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean.
We are also concerned that the bases agreement represents a back-door means for continuing to support the Colombian military, despite rep orts in the last year that the military murdered more than 1,000 civilians and alleged they were guerrillas killed in combat, in order to increase their body count. Colombian Defense Ministry sources have said that Colombia is attempting to obtain increases in U.S. military aid as part of the base negotiations. The Palanquero base itself, which houses a Colombian Air Force unit, was banned from receiving U.S. aid for five years because of its role in a 1998 attack that killed 17 civilians, including six children.
A review of policy in Colombia is needed that addresses the serious human rights issues present in the Colombian Armed Forces and State, including: the practice of civilian killings reportedly committed by the Colombian Army si nce 2002, which the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights called “widespread and systematic,” with a 98% rate of impunity; the persistence and growth of massive forced displacement of rural Colombians from their lands, with 380,000 people forced to flee their homes last year; illegal surveillance, unfounded accusations, and covert operations against human rights defenders, journalists, Supreme Court justices, and opposition party leaders by the presidential security agency and (in some cases) by military intelligence units. In light of these revelations, the Administration should reconsider centering its strategies in the region on an alliance with the Colombian military. To broaden relationships with South America and value respect for human rights, the
United States should not create a fortress in Colombia in concert with the region’s worst rights violators, the Colombian military.
In addition, the Administration has not yet conducted a review of U.S. drug policy in the Andean region that accounts for the failure of supply-side policies to have any measurable, long-term impact on the price, purity and availability of cocaine in the United States. In any case, the international nature of drug trafficking requires a regional approach that builds consensus among the nations involved. The Administration should use the closing of the Manta base as an opportunity to re-direct resources toward drug treatment and prevention programs that actually work in reducing demand for illegal narcotics.
20For all these reasons, we urge you to take the following steps:
* Suspend negotiations for expanded U.S. military access or operations in Colombia, and initiate dialogue with South American leaders to address common security concerns in the region, including those related to trafficking in narcotics.
* Initiate a review of Colombia policy that puts a negotiated solution to the armed conflict and promotion of respect for human rights at the center of U.S. objectives.
* Urge President Obama to task ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske to conduct a review of U.S. drug policy that seeks to translate into concrete budget priorities his call for drugs to be viewed as “a public health crisis” rather than a “drug war.8 0
We look forward to your response to these concerns and requests.
Cc: Dan Restrepo
Ambassador William Brownfield
Secretary of Defense Gates
Across the Americas
P.O. Box 268733 <-- new
Chicago, IL 60626-8733
773-938-1036 (phone and fax)
Action in Pennsylvania: Shut Down the Army Experience Center - September 12, 2009
Philadelphia teenagers enjoy "killing ragheads" at the local mall.
Activists affiliated with several dozen groups on the east coast will descend on the Army Experience Center at Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia at 2:00 pm on Sat, Sep. 12, 2009.
Gun-toting youth as young as 13 have been heard congratulating each other for "killing ragheads" and "wiping out hajis," but the Army doesn't see it that way. “We want to give people the opportunity to experience the Army for themselves, so they have an understanding of what soldiers do, and they can be proud of their service,” explains Army Major Larry Dillard, Army Experience Center Program Manager.
The Army has recently announced that the Philadelphia Pilot program has resulted in a decision to launch Experience Centers across the country. 140 new recruits have signed up through the $12 Million center since it opened last August.
Demonstrators are being encouraged to form small affinity groups and *enter the mall through one of several locations. Protesters are expected to express their outrage in creative, nonviolent ways. Several hundred are expected.
Protesters vow to return on September 12, 2009
See www.shutdowntheaec.net Contact Elaine Brower Elaine Brower 917-520-0767
email@example.com or Pat Elder - 202-210-3467 firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps you too would like to sign and send this letter on.
From: International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 2009 August 5 Wednesday 11:24 PM
Subject: ACTION ALERT: STOP LEONARD COHEN CONCERT IN ISRAEL
Please take 10 minutes to send a letter to concert endorser Amnesty International and sign an open letter to Leonard Cohen
ACTION 1: Tell Amnesty International that Entertaining Apartheid Israel Deserves No Amnesty!
ISSUED BY: The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Israel), British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Jews Against the Occupation-NYC, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK), New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI), New York City Labor Against the War, Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK), US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel
August 5, 2009
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and groups around the world have been calling for months for musician Leonard Cohen to cancel his planned September concert in Israel. With the international community failing to take action to stop Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, and inspired by the international boycott movement that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, Palestinian civil society has launched calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, including an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Ninety-three artists, writers and other cultural workers have signed onto the Palestinian cultural boycott call. Many dignitaries signed the "No Reason to Celebrate" pledge and refused to participate in any artistic or literary event during Israel's year-long 60th anniversary celebrations.
Feeling the heat of the protests, Cohen and his PR staff tried to schedule a small concert in Ramallah to balance his concert in Israel. However, Palestinians rejected the Ramallah concert and any claimed symmetry between the occupying power and the people under occupation.
Now Cohen and his PR staff are trying to whitewash the concert in Israel by using Amnesty International USAs good name. According to a July 28th article in the Jerusalem Post, Amnesty International USA will serve as sponsor of a new fund. The fund will launder the money raised at Cohens concert in Israel by using it to finance programs for peace.
In response, sixteen groups and coalitions issued a July 30th Open Letter to Amnesty International calling on Amnesty to be true to its values and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohens ill-conceived concert in Israel. The groups noted that by supporting Cohens concert, Amnesty International is undermining a successful effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel's occupation and other violations of international law and human rights principles. Amnesty International also is partnering in the initiative with Israeli institutions that undermine peace, including a bank directly involved in supporting Israeli settlement construction. The only alleged Palestinian partner has announced it is not taking part.
Please email Amnesty International, calling on Amnesty to withdraw from support for Cohens concert. Amnesty International is recognized by many as defending human rights worldwide, so please be respectful and courteous in your message.
You can write and email your own letter, or use the sample letter below and email it, or send an editable form letter via the website of the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel: http://boycottisraelnyc.org/category/629/tell-amnesty-international-entertaining-apartheid-israel-deserves-no-amnesty Further below, for reference, is the full Open Letter to Amnesty International.
-If you send your own email, please email your letter to:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, ZJanmohamed@aiusa.org,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
(Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA; Curt Goering, Senior Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA; Zahir Janmohamed, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA; Irene Khan, Amnesty International Secretary General; Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International (UK) Senior Director, Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International (UK) Middle East Director, Research and Regional Programs; Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International (UK) Researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories)
-If you email your own letter, please cc it to: firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can keep track of the responses.
SAMPLE LETTER TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Dear Amnesty International,
I hold Amnesty Internationals worldwide work for human rights and international law in high esteem. For this reason, I was very troubled to learn that Amnesty International has agreed to manage a fund that will disburse the proceeds from Leonard Cohens planned concert in Israel in September. I call on Amnesty International to be true to your values, distance yourself from efforts to normalize Israels occupation and apartheid, and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohens ill-conceived concert in Israel.
By supporting Cohens concert, Amnesty International will be subverting the worldwide movement to boycott Israel, a non-violent, effective effort by Palestinian and international civil society to end Israel's violations of international law and human rights principles. Accepting funds from the proceeds of Cohens concert in Israel is the equivalent of Amnesty accepting tainted funds from a concert in Sun City in apartheid South Africa.
Ninety-three artists, writers and other cultural workers have signed onto the Palestinian cultural boycott call. Many dignitaries signed the "No Reason to Celebrate" pledge and refused to participate in any artistic or literary event during Israel's year-long 60th anniversary celebrations.
In his protest resignation from Amnesty International over this issue, Irish author and composer, Raymond Deane, wrote:
"By assisting Cohen in his ruse to bypass this boycott, Amnesty International is in fact taking a political stance, in violation of the premise of political neutrality with which it so regularly justifies its failure to side unambiguously with the oppressed. Amnesty is telling us: resistance is futile, the voice of the oppressed is irrelevant, international humanitarian law is a luxury."
Furthermore, the Israeli partners in the concert, the Peres Center for Peace and Israel Discount Bank, actively hinder efforts to achieve a just peace. A columnist in Israels Haaretz Daily called the Peres Center for Peace patronizing and colonial organization that is in the business of training the Palestinian population to accept its inferiority and prepare it to survive under the arbitrary constraints imposed by Israel. According to research by Who Profits, a project of Israels Coalition of Women for Peace, Israel Discount Bank is deeply involved in supporting Israels settlement enterprise. Israeli settlements violate the very tenets of international law that Amnesty International works to uphold.
Finally, the only Palestinian organization falsely reported in the July 28th Jerusalem Post article as being a partner in this project, the Palestinian Happy Child Center, has confirmed that it is not taking part. There is no Palestinian organization participating in this whitewash.
Thank you for your attention to this vital human rights issue. I look forward to learning of Amnesty Internationals withdrawal of its support for the Leonard Cohen concert in Israel.
Your city and country of residence
ACTION 2: Sign letter to Leonard Cohen
OPEN LETTER TO LEONARD COHEN
from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Dear Leonard Cohen, 4 August 2009
You have received many letters asking that you boycott Israel; and were sure that many of those who have written to you have been, like many of us, fans of yours since the 60s; and that we, and our families, know many of your songs word-for-word.
We were struck that you have said you loved the great poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. Within months of Lorcas execution by the fascist nationalists, Franco called on Hitler and Mussolini to carry out the aerial bombing of Guernica (1937). In the years following the defeat of the Spanish movement more that 200,000 people were killed by the fascists, including in Nazi concentration camps.
There was always resistance the experience of anti-fascists from Spain, including Jewish fighters, who were transported in thousands to Nazi concentration camps, famously organized with other prisoners to sabotage, go-slow, escape, and if possible survive.
Read and sign the full letter here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/IJAN_Leonard_Cohen/
From: "D'Anne Davis" <email@example.com>
Subject: Canadian Health Care
The Canadian Health care system is great!! Super-doo. (If everyone chips in . . . .)
Because of so much misleading info about it, this Canadian union sent a letter to :
Obama; Sebelius (Secretary of Health), & all members of Congress
(I just called the union; they verified they had composed and sent the letter.)
I am writing to you on behalf of the 340,000 members of the National Union of Public and General Employees (Canada) about the scurrilous misrepresentations of Canada and our single-payer health system in the debate over the future of health care in the United States.
. . . .
You need to know that an objective examination of the evidence reveals that Canada’s single-payer health system is the triumph of values and economics.
Our system speaks volumes about the character of our nation. It provides all Canadians with equal access to care on the basis of need, not wealth or privilege or status. Previous generations understood that sickness doesn’t discriminate and they made the collective moral decision that health care shouldn’t discriminate either. It was a courageous initiative by visionary men and women that changed us as a nation and cemented our role as one of the world’s compassionate societies. We will always defend the proud legacy we have inherited from previous generations of Canadians.
. . . .
[O]ur single-payer system is, quite simply, a good and sensible idea that serves Canadians extremely well. . . . .
When it comes to health outcomes, on almost every critical measure, whether it is life expectancy rates, infant mortality rates, or potential years of lost life, Canada rates much better than the U.S. and we’re among the best in the world. . . . .[A] very strong majority of Canadians who use the system are highly satisfied with the quality and standard of care they receive.
In terms of controlling costs, health spending in Canada is on par with most countries in the Western world and it’s substantially lower than in the U.S. And yet we devote a smaller portion of Gross Domestic Product to health care today than we did over a decade ago. It’s totally unthinkable to Canadians to experience bankruptcy due to medical bills, as do over one million Americans every year. Unlike in the U.S., not a single Canadian who is unemployed has lost the ability to access health care during the current economic recession.
In addition, our single-payer system provides both small and large businesses in Canada with a clear competitive advantage. Employers don’t have to provide basic health care for their workers – our single-payer system does that. Our businesses also enjoy the benefits of a healthier and more productive workforce thanks to our universal system. Unlike in the U.S. where basic health care is a major source of labour relations strife, it’s hardly an issue at the bargaining table in Canada. We also enjoy greater labour mobility because workers who don’t have to worry about losing health benefits are more willing and able to switch jobs and move to where the work is.
Finally, what you’re being told about government-run health care with patients suffering and dying on wait lists is nothing but lies. No need for emergency or urgent care is ever neglected in Canada. If your doctor says you need the care urgently, you get it, period. Moreover, Statistics Canada reports that the median wait time for elective surgery is four weeks and the median wait time for diagnostic imaging like MRIs is three weeks. And contrary to popular myth, we’re free to choose whatever doctor we want. And all decisions about care and treatment are left to patients and their doctors – there’s no interference by the government or private insurance companies.
An objective review of the evidence shows that Canada’s single-payer system has consistently delivered affordable, timely, accessible, comprehensive and high-quality care to the overwhelming majority of Canadians on the basis of need, not wealth. It has also contributed to our international competitiveness and the productivity of our workforce.
Times of great need, we are told, are the times when true leaders emerge and display the ability to separate fact from fiction and the courage to set aside political agendas for the sake of the common good. The challenge facing health care reform in the U.S. demands that kind of ability and courage from each of you.
I would be pleased to speak or meet with you at anytime, or if you’re interested we could arrange a “study mission” to Canada, to ensure you have an accurate picture of the benefits and popularity of Canada’s most cherished social program. Please do not hesitate to contact my office.
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