ACTION ALERT**** COLOMBIA
Mr. Farr will offer an amendment to stop funding for the Colombia Oil
Pipeline Protection Program. He will offer the amendment to the emergency
supplemental appropriations bill as it is marked up in the House
Appropriations Committee tomorrow, Thursday, May 9.
The amendment reads that "none of the funds made available in this Act under
the heading "Foreign Military Financing Program" may be used to provide
assistance for Colombia." The only Colombia funding in this category is
the $6 million to start up military training and equipment for the Colombian
army units guarding the Occidental Oil Pipeline in Arauca province.
Urge members of the Appropriations Committee to vote YES to Mr. Farr's
amendment. The pipeline protection program is a big step down that slippery
slope towards direct US involvement in Colombia's brutal decades-old war.
The supplemental would provide Colombia with $6 million in FMF assistance to
begin training military units to protect the Caño Limón - Coveñas pipeline
in northeastern Colombia. FARC and ELN guerrillas attacked the pipeline
-whose oil belongs to a joint venture involving U.S.-based Occidental
Petroleum - 170 times in 2001.
The administration's 2003 Foreign Operations Appropriations request, to be
debated later this summer, includes another $98 million in FMF for pipeline
protection. This aid includes helicopters, training and equipment for
Colombia's 18th Brigade, based in Arauca department on the Venezuelan
border, and a new 5th Mobile Brigade. The $6 million in the supplemental
merely seeks to "jump-start" this larger aid program.
The real debate about the pipeline proposal will take place now, during
consideration of the supplemental. Passing the $6 million now will probably
ease passage of the other $98 million later on, when the Foreign Operations
bill is debated.
* The additional assistance is not likely to bring an end to guerrilla
attacks on the 400-mile-long pipeline. In the best case, the guerrillas may
be forced to concentrate their attacks beyond the 18th Brigade's
jurisdiction (about the first 75 miles of the pipeline). If this happens,
will Congress be asked to provide still more FMF to protect the rest of the
* U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson told Colombia's El Tiempo newspaper
that "There are more than 300 infrastructure sites that are strategic for
the United States in Colombia."
htm#_ftn4>  Is this just the first of many military aid outlays for
infrastructure protection? Will other U.S. corporations with investments in
Colombia get a similar U.S.-funded military shield?
* The "Critical Infrastructure Brigade," as the Bush administration
aid proposals call it, would be protecting a pipeline that, when
operational, pumps about 35 million barrels per year. This adds up to $3 per
barrel in costs to U.S. taxpayers to protect a pipeline for which Occidental
currently pays security costs of about 50 cents per barrel, according to the
Wall Street Journal.
* Beginning in December 2001, the AUC paramilitaries began
systematically killing people in two towns about 100 miles to the southeast
of the pipeline, Tame and Cravo Norte. The situation in these two zones
recalls bloody paramilitary takeovers of many other town centers in the past
few years, including the oil port of Barrancabermeja. It is worth keeping an
eye on the 18th Brigade's response to the paramilitary offensive in Arauca -
so far there has been very little.
Appropriations Committee members:Young, Regula, Jerry Lewis, Rogers, Skeen,
Wolf, DeLay, Kolbe, Callahan, Walsh, Taylor, Hobson, Istook, Bonilla
Knollenberg, Dan Miller, Kingston, Frelinghuysen, Wicker, Nethercutt,
Cunningham, Tiahrt, Wamp, Latham, Northup, Aderholt, Emerson, Sununu,
Granger, Peterson, Doolittle, LaHood, Sweeney, Vitter, Sherwood, Obey,
Murtha, Dicks, Sabo, Hoyer, Mollohan, Kaptur, Pelosi, Visclosky, Lwey,
Serrano, DeLauro, Moran, Olver, Pastor, Meek, Price, Edwards, Cramer,
Kennedy, Clyburn, Hinchey, Roybal-Allard, Farr, Jackson, Kilpatrick, Boyd,