August 31, 2000
aren't getting the whole story," says Jack Suderman, executive secretary of Ministries
Commission of Mennonite Church Canada, referring to Bill Clinton's $1.3 billion
infusion of aid for Colombia.
Suderman points to a letter his denomination received from the Colombian Mennonite
Church stating that the years of conflict have forced nearly two million people
from their homes and killed some 30,000, including community leaders and church
pastors. Even now there are an average of eleven political killings or forced
disappearances per day. The church rejects the view that the conflict is primarily
about drug-trafficking. This view, it says, "hides the real basis of social injustice
that produced the drug-traffic business in the first place."
Suderman says "The Canadian government's approach to the Colombian difficulties
is well intentioned and different from the US, but is being overshadowed by the
massive international Plan Colombia, part of which is the US military aid being
given to Colombia. Colombian Mennonites, with our support, are calling for a fundamentally
That different approach involves redirecting military aid money into efforts designed
to assist human survival, development and peace in Colombia.
The situation in Colombia is heart wrenching, says Suderman, who has lived and
worked there. Innocent lives are being lost in the uptake of huge, international
military machinations. He believes that by sending more weapons northern countries
will prolong the 36-year old civil war and hinder efforts to address the deeper
He strongly urges Canadians and Americans to contact their elected representatives
and pressure them to consider more humanitarian approaches to this situation.
"Alone we can do little," says Suderman. "But together we can do what we cannot
For more information, contact Jack
Suderman, executive secretary, Ministries Commission, Mennonite Church Canada,
600 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB R3P 0M4, (204) 888-6781.
Send letters to leaders.
Additional Contacts: Ricardo Esquivia
Ballestas, Director of the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of
Colombia - CEDECOL;
Peter Stucky Presidente, Mennonite Church of Colombia; Address: Av. Calle 32 No.
14-42, Bogotá, Colombia; Tel. 285-6315, 571-0010, 570-6150