News Release

* Colombia * Haiti * Turkey

SANDRA ALVAREZ, via Jason Mark
The peace talks in Colombia, which seemed on the verge of collapse, have been extended until Jan. 20. Today the Washington Post reports that, according to administration officials, the “Bush administration is considering expanding U.S. counternarcotics assistance to Colombia to give more aid to that country’s counterinsurgency war against leftist guerrillas.” Alvarez, Colombia program coordinator for Global Exchange, will be traveling to Colombia from Jan. 17 to 27. She said today: “The resumption of the peace talks marks an important moment for Colombians and people worldwide who support a negotiated solution to that country’s conflict. The U.S. has long supported a military solution to the four-decades-old conflict, disguising military aid as support for a ‘War on Drugs.’ Contrary to what our government is saying, we are not so much fighting drug trafficking in Colombia as we are strengthening a military for an escalation of the conflict. In response, all armed actors have been building their own capacities for war. In addition, instead of the U.S. responding to the call for peace, high level officials are making plans for an expansion of military aid beyond counternarcotics.”
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CECILIA ZARATE-LAUN
Co-founder and program director of the Colombia Support Network, Zarate-Laun said today: “Thanks to the United Nations and the help of diplomats from ten countries, which have declared themselves friends and supporters of a negotiated solution to the Colombian civil war — Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Cuba, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Mexico and Venezuela — the threats for an imminent breakdown of the negotiations for peace in Colombia were overcome. All of this in spite of the United States, which after Sept. 11 placed enormous pressure on President Pastrana to end the peace process and to enhance the build-up of the Colombian military machine with the gift of 14 Black Hawk helicopters presented by Ambassador Patterson just last week.”

LARRY BIRNS
Birns is director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which recently released a paper, “Colombia — Again Perched at the Edge of the Slippery Slope.”
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RAY LAFOREST
Co-coordinator of the Haiti Support Network, Laforest said today: “The OAS is today considering imposing further economic sanctions on Haiti. This is clearly a U.S.-government-led attempt at forcing a much greater role for a small group of parties who represent a tiny minority.”

ERTUGRUL KURKCU
Kurkcu is a political analyst and coordinator of the Istanbul-based Independent Communications Network. He is available for interviews while the Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, is on a four-day visit to Washington.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; Norman Solomon, (415) 552-5378