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The Narco News Bulletin

"The Name of Our Country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

Panama Bishop Comes Out Against Plan Colombia

Narco News Publishes the Text Translated by Panama News

The Plan against Colombia: more gasoline for the fire!

Key elements about "Plan Colombia" for Panama

by Monsignor Carlos María Ariz, cmf, Bishop of Colon & Kuna Yala
and Héctor Endara Hill, president of Caritas

1. Within "Plan Colombia" there certainly exist key elements to which
we don't have access, and unfortunately, this is the case with the great
majority of the Colombian population, and those of the other countries that
will be affected. However, there are clear situations, which, as much as
we'd like to,
we can't ignore them without becoming complicit by omission. It's a fact that a big part of the plan is operations of a military character. More
than 60 percent of the $1.3 billion that the government of the United States
is investing goes to the plan's military component. There are many
precedents to show that this type of investment doesn't respect the innocent
(neither persons nor the environment) when the time comes for a
demonstration of military hardware.

2. Panama is now involved, against its will, in Colombia's problems, due to:

a. the refugees and displaced person who flee the situation in Colombia and come to Panama, whom, for humanity's sake, we are obliged to comfort;

b. the continued violence that affects Panamanians who live in
communities near the border, as has been related innumerable times by church members in the area;

c. the arms traffic that flows through Panama and that uses Panama; and

d. the request made by the government of Panama for a part of the $1.3 billion that the United States has dedicated to Colombia.

3. The government of the United States wants to involve Panama in the
military conflict
that it encourages and now has in Colombia. Panama must
avoid, however it takes place, seeing itself involved in this military
Panama must not permit the argument that this country "isn't
isolated, but a part of the hemisphere" to be used by the United States to
go on involving us, or for us to go on involving our own country.

4. En Panama we must be conscious of the need to impede all drug
traffic, not only because it affects Colombia or the United States, but
because drug trafficking destroys our own people and corrupts our own
It's evident that the United States now uses drug trafficking
to intervene in the hemisphere
, as they used to use the Cold War or the
fight against communism, not as a reason but
as a pretext to continue
producing arms, to continue selling them, to militarize countries and
intervene in them.

5. Nothing must serve as an excuse for the government of Panama to
involve the Panamanian people in a foreign military conflict, exacerbated by
American intervention, or to militarize the country.
The people of Panama
don't believe in war as a solution to problems, nor as a way to deal with
drug trafficking.

6. The conflict with drug trafficking must be resolved by the United
States on its own territory.
The US has the technological means to of
coverage and the military means to stop all of this drug traffic from
crossing its borders and circulating within its territory -
nothing should
serve to allow the United States to do things in Colombia or Panama that
they wouldn't do in their own territory to their own citizens.
It wouldn't
occur to anybody to fumigate the streets of New York because a lot of drugs
are consumed there. We have an ethical duty to show solidarity with the
American people who suffer the scourge of drugs, and based on the same
principle we have an ethical duty to reject the militarism that US policy
has imprinted on Plan Colombia.

7. There will be the production and sale of drugs so long as the United
States does not pay just prices for coffee, bananas, sugar and all the other
traditional products of Third World countries.
The policies of the WTO, the
IMF and the World Bank are also part of the social, political and economic
context that have shaped the violent situation in which Colombia now lives.

8. We must not forget the historical context of US policy norms with
regard to Latin American countries. An analysis of the advantages and
disadvantages of this quickly shows the balance in favor of North America.
The business of the large US producers of every type of weapon system has
been a part of the foreign policy of that country.

9. The human drama of those displaced by the violence in Colombia is a
situation that goes back many years. It has to do with some two million
Colombians who, fleeing the violence, have been forced to settle into
subhuman conditions in place which lack the minimum guarantees and
conditions for a dignified life. Thus they come to the borders of our
country. Who can hold back the enormous and terrible consequences that Plan
Colombia will bring us, in the form of the displacement of human beings on
our common border?

10. It mustn't be a secret to anybody that poverty and social injustice
are at the root of the violence in Colombia
. Many years ago, by way of the
international news, the images of street kids went around the world -
thousands of Colombian boys and girls who had as their only refuge the
dangerous streets of Bogota. With all the injustice in the world, and on an
international level as well, the stigma of thief was cast upon them for all
Colombians. Clearly these absurd generalizations only resonate with weak
spirited and hard hearted persons.

11. Today's reality tells us that the wave of hooliganism and assaults,
which before had spread among the Colombians, has multiplied in geometric
progression, breaking out all across Latin America, to the extent that it
has resulted in a major boost to
an economic system that has accumulation of
earnings, voracious monopolization and ferocious individualism as its main
selling points.

12. As members of the Church, which serves and works in the Panamanian
community, we clamor for a just peace, one that results from plain respect
for human rights, justice, truth and tolerance. We pray and cry out for a
peace that satisfies the basic needs of the whole population, in Colombia,
in Panama, and throughout the hemisphere.

Silence = Complicity