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Narco News 2001

European Union

Against Plan Colombia

-- Parliament OPPOSES the $1.3 Billion US-imposed Plan Colombia War Project

-- OPPOSES the strategy of herbicide spraying on coca crops and farms

-- CALLS for firmer action against paramilitaries by the Colombian government

-- SEEKS to strengthen Civil Society's role in the peace process in Colombia

-- TARGETS drug money laundering and consumer countries


February 1, 2001

European Parliament resolution on Plan Colombia and support for the peace process in Colombia

The European Parliament, - having regard to its previous resolutions on Colombia, - having regard to the conclusions of the General Affairs Council of 9 October 2000, - having regard to the statement by the EU Presidency of 25 October 2000,

A. whereas, in spite of concerted efforts at dialogue with the guerrillas and the peace talks under way, the parties have not yet succeeded in bringing an end to a conflict which has lasted for over three decades,

B. recalling the undertaking given by the Clinton administration and President Pastrana in September 1999 on the joint implementation of a 'plan for peace, prosperity and the strengthening of the state', otherwise known as Plan Colombia,

C. whereas Plan Colombia is not the product of a process of dialogue amongst the various partners in society and whereas acceptance of the strategy for peace by all of the country's institutions would be a most welcome development which should involve not only action to combat drugs production and trafficking but also a strategy for social and economic recovery, the strengthening of institutions and social development, all of which need to be supported,

D. whereas one of the objectives of Plan Colombia lies in stamping out drug trafficking and the spread of illegal crops by means of a strategy which favours aerial crop-spraying and the use of biological agents, methods which are leading to the forced displacement of families and communities and are seriously affecting Colombia's rich biodiversity,

E. having regard to the declaration by the Support Group for the Peace Process in Colombia (Madrid, 7 July 2000), in which the participants expressed their full political support for the peace process under way, and the declaration by the EU delegation calling for greater efforts by the Colombian government with a view to breaking up paramilitary groups,

F. having regard to the statement by the General Affairs Council of 9 October 2000, in which the European Union reaffirmed its support for the ongoing peace efforts and its willingness to play an active role in the negotiating process, which should involve consulting civil society and obtaining the agreement of all parties with a view to achieving peace which is founded on respect for human rights, humanitarian law and fundamental freedoms,

G. whereas the problem of drug trafficking and related offences calls for a global approach based on the principles of shared responsibility and international cooperation between drug-producing and drug-consuming countries, with a particular view to further action to stamp out the laundering of money derived from drug trafficking,

H. having regard to the dialogue established at the meeting held in Costa Rica in mid-October and the growth in dialogue between civil society and armed groups; having regard to the meeting of the Support Group for the Peace Process in Colombia (Bogota, 24/25 October 2000) attended by representatives of the Commission and the EU Presidency,

I. whereas acts of violence and terrorism, assassinations, kidnappings and massacres, aimed at the civilian population in particular, have increased while the peace talks have been taking place and considering the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of such crimes and, in particular, by those who order the crimes to be carried out,

J. having regard to the recent visit by Mrs Mary Robinson to Colombia and the attention which she drew to the inadequacy of the measures taken against paramilitary groups and to impunity in general; whereas not only tens of thousands of Colombians but also Europeans have been the victims of crimes which have gone unpunished, such as the Spanish volunteer Iñigo Eguiluz, the Belgian Daniel Gillard, the Italian Giacomo Turra, the Swiss Hildegard Feldmann and many others,

1. Reiterates its firm support for the peace process initiated by President Pastrana and urges the parties to pursue their efforts in this regard, in spite of the difficulties involved; calls on the FARC to return to the table and to continue the peace negotiations;

2. Takes the view that, in addition to their military dimension, the prevailing situation and conflict in Colombia have a social and political dimension whose roots lie in economic, political, cultural and social exclusion;

3. Believes that stepping up military involvement in the fight against drugs involves the risk of sparking off an escalation of the conflict in the region, and that military solutions cannot bring about lasting peace;

4. Warns that Plan Colombia contains aspects that run counter to the cooperation strategies and projects to which the EU has already committed itself and jeopardise its cooperation programmes; expresses particular concern at the current situation in the Putumayo region;

5. Considers that the European Union must support the aspects of the peace process which involve the strengthening of institutions, alternative development, humanitarian aid and social development, since these are the ones which are most in accordance with its cooperation strategy;

6. Believes that the social movement, which has been severely affected by repression, NGOs and local communities must play an active role in the ongoing peace process; welcomes the fact that their role has been affirmed (in particular at the meeting in Costa Rica) and believes that it must be coordinated with the efforts being made at the negotiating table;

7. Believes that lasting peace cannot be achieved in Colombia without deep-seated changes to the means by which wealth is distributed, since many of the problems confronting the country stem from the fact that peasant farmers do not own land;

8. Highlights the importance of encouraging genuine agrarian reform, using notably land confiscated from drug barons, which presents peasant farmers with economic alternatives; therefore urges the Colombian government to implement ambitious reform policies designed to curb the increasing concentration of land and improve social conditions;

9. Stresses that European Union action should pursue its own, non-military strategy combining neutrality, transparency, the participation of civil society and undertakings from the parties involved in the negotiations;

10. Welcomes the conclusions of the 9 October 2000 Council meeting, which contain announcements concerning the implementation of a 'substantial European programme of socio- economic and institutional support for the peace process in Colombia, aimed at promoting and protecting respect for human rights, humanitarian law and fundamental freedoms, improving the living conditions of the local populations, encouraging the cultivation of alternative crops and the protection of biodiversity and supporting the introduction of structural reforms in all fields which fuel armed conflict';

11. Expresses its outrage at the large-scale massacres of country dwellers which have recently been carried out by paramilitary groups in the regions of Magdalena, Magdalena Medio, Cauca and Putumayo, and the threats which have been made to country dwellers in the Tumaco region and elsewhere; takes the view that securing significant results in the fight against impunity and against armed groups which violate human rights and contravene international humanitarian law is essential to the credibility of the rule of law; urges the Colombian government to continue its fight against paramilitary groups and its efforts to strengthen the foundations of the rule of law, and to implement immediately and in their entirety the United Nations recommendations on human rights;

12. Considers that the European Union must play a more determined role in the political protection and the funding of organisations (in particular organisations for the families of victims) which campaign to have crimes against humanity investigated, to preserve the memory of the victims of such crimes and to ensure that the perpetrators thereof do not go unpunished;

13. Welcomes the proposal by Commissioners Patten and Nielson to grant substantial support for the peace efforts in Colombia amounting to EUR 105 million for the period 2000-2006; stresses that, so as to give credibility to the Union's action, initial measures contributing to the peace process should be introduced without delay and be aimed at promoting respect for human rights, humanitarian law and fundamental freedoms, improving the living conditions of the local populations, using civil society organisations and social movements as channels and bearing in mind the forced displacement of a section of the rural population, of which women and children form the vast majority;

14. Welcomes the decision by the Council of Ministers to undertake a six-monthly appraisal of the state of the peace process, the progress in implementing programmes and compliance with the respective undertakings and obligations of the Colombian government and the groups involved in the negotiations to strengthen peace, and asks the Council and Commission to inform Parliament at the same time;

15. Is convinced that, in the fight against illegal crops, negotiated and agreed solutions, agrarian reform and alternative crops, together with criminal proceedings against traffickers and money launderers, should take precedence over crop-spraying campaigns; believes in this regard that the Union must take the necessary steps to secure an end to the large-scale use of chemical herbicides and prevent the introduction of biological agents such as Fusarium oxysporum, given the dangers of their use to human health and the environment alike;

16. Highlights the importance of strengthening regional cooperation and dialogue on the basis of the principle of international coresponsibility, given that past experience in the fight against illegal crops has shown that tackling this problem in one country alone merely serves to transfer it to neighbouring countries;

17. Stresses the need to step up inter-regional cooperation to curb and stamp out drug trafficking and combat money laundering; in this respect, the European Union ought to support Colombia's request to sign the Strasbourg Convention;

18. Calls on the Venezuelan government to cooperate with the Colombian government in jointly establishing mechanisms which will make it possible to resolve the border problems relating to the fight against drug production and trafficking;

19. Urges the Colombian government to follow the approach used in the talks with the FARC in establishing dialogue with the other guerrilla groups with a view to promoting the principles of neutrality and transparency and thus earning the support of the various armed groups for planned programmes and projects;

20. Urges all the armed groups to support a humanitarian agreement under which they would cease kidnapping, release their hostages, refrain from committing terrorist acts, from recruiting under-age supporters and from carrying out attacks on the civilian population, and conclude a serious ceasefire agreement;

21. Reiterates its support for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and its efforts to secure a humanitarian agreement in Colombia;

22. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the
Council, the Commission, the governments of Colombia, Venezuela and of the mediating countries.

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