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Mennonite Church Canada Calls for Another Perspective on US Military Aid to Colombia

   

Winnipeg, Man.—"People 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 different approach."

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 problems.

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 do alone."

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