U. Iowa Speaker Decries Colombia's 40-Year War 

U. Iowa Speaker Decries Colombia's 40-Year War 
Posted by FoM on March 28, 2000 at 10:29:51 PT
By Avian Carrasquillo, The Daily Iowan U. Iowa
Source: U-WIRE
More than 40 people packed a University of Iowa classroom Sunday night to hear Luis Alfonso Velazquez Rico, the director of judicial affairs for Colombia's largest federation of unions, speak about the recent civil unrest in the country. Rico's lecture focused on three major points affecting Colombia: economics, politics and anti-narcotics action. 
"Colombia is in the worst recession in its history," he said. "We're at 70 percent employment. Only about 8 or 9 percent of the population has a stable income." Colombia has been in a civil war for more than 40 years, and Rico said he hopes a cease fire can be initiated. "The United States has to stop giving aid directly to the military, which only adds to the conflict," he said. "I urge you to support a substantial positive aid package for Colombia including humanitarian relief for people displaced by violence, crop-substitution programs for small farmers to switch from coca to legal crops and investigations into human-rights violations and drug trafficking." The lecture series, titled "Colombia Civilians Under Fire," has traveled throughout various U.S cities, including Chicago and Washington, D.C. The series was partly sponsored by Amnesty International, a human-rights organization. UI senior Audra Slocum joined Amnesty International as a freshman because of her interest in human rights. She is now the co-cordinator of the UI chapter of Amnesty International. "We became familiar with the violence present in Latin America through our own research," Slocum said. "A number of our members have lived and worked in Latin America, so there was a special interest within our own group to let others know about the situation." One of the main organizers of the lecture, Maria Hope of the Office for Study Abroad, said part of the lecture tour's purpose was to lobbly officials. "Ultimately 'Colombia Civilians Under Fire' is about pressuring public officials to urge Colombian officials to push reform, getting support to the social groups, to the labor groups and to the citizens who have stayed and want to make it work," she said. Updated 12:00 PM ET March 27, 2000 (U-WIRE) Iowa City, Iowa (C) 2000 The Daily Iowan via U-WIRE  Copyright  1995-2000 Excite Inc. Related Articles & Web Site:Amnesty International Other Drug War War Funding Faces Delay Money - Arianna Huffington - Salon Magazine
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