Colombia represents a crossroads of some of the major concerns of our times. The illicit drug trade, environmental threats, arms trafficking, forced emigration, terrorism on several fronts, and crises arising from inequality and profound social strife, are problems threatening humankind. Colombia is seriously affected; finding positive solutions to such problems means resolving some of the greatest challenges facing the modern world.
No other democracy has to deal with a more threatening armed conflict or a more dramatic social situation. Prolongation of this destructive environment has seriously threatened the lives of human beings, intensified political polarisation, reduced the scope of the country’s formal economy, invited environmental disaster, forced the country into a ruinous economic situation, and produced a cultural collapse whose first victims are the State and the principle of governance.
It is an historic and moral imperative to promote full-fledged democracy and the protection of human-rights in Colombia. To this end, development models that generate exclusion must be overcome, and credible economic and social solutions as well as dignifying cultural processes must be developed. Furthermore, Colombia's crisis demands selfless solidarity from the international community in order to promote and facilitate a political solution to the armed conflict and to lay the foundations for effective reconstruction of the country.
The strengthening of democracy in Colombia involves applying principles of international co-operation and co-responsibility. The narcotics issue requires a new approach. The nature of the relationship between the United States and Colombia must be guided by consensus. Greater pluralism, a more thorough analysis of the complexity of the situation, and a more balanced design for solving and not merely displacing the problems of illicit crops and drugtrafficking, are paramount.
Fully aware of the key role played by the Presidents of the United States and Colombia in this crucial historical juncture and of the importance of your meeting, we request Presidents Bush and Pastrana to jointly:
1. Request the UN Secretary General to set up a Commission of Enquiry to clarify the nature of the present crisis in Colombia. This Commission, in addition to experts and international figures, should include representatives from those sectors of society who are presently enduring and suffering the country’s crisis such as military personnel, guerrillas, and independent thinkers silenced by the conflict, so that their recommendations generate a basic framework for a political solution to this situation.
2. Create a Binational Commission with the mandate to: expand on the positive points of the bilateral agenda; establish genuine consultation and co-ordination mechanisms on crucial peace-building and reconciliation issues; and define mechanisms for effective economic, social and cultural co-operation that will contribute to the consolidation of real and lasting peace in Colombia.
3. Plan an International Drug Summit that will re-direct the hemispheric struggle against narcotics and organised crime along firm, credible and legitimate lines.
4.Revise the strategy of forced chemical eradication. There is ample evidence to prove that effective means are available to reduce both the number of acres under coca cultivation as well as risks to human health and the environment.
5. Respond positively to recent initiatives proposed by the European Union on Colombia, as well as to the “Appeal for Colombia” launched by prominent Europeans, paying particular attention to the proposal for a major International Conference on Colombia.
6. Seriously consider the cultural dimensions of the present crisis and the central role that education and culture must play in eliminating inequality, privilege and exclusion, in forming a community that embodies principles of solidarity and dignity, in strengthening a citizenry that re-legitimises democracy, and in achieving a renewed sense of the relationship between individual citizens, governance and the rule of law.
7. Promote a joint diplomatic initiative among countries such as Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, so that, together with effective co-operation from the United States and the European Union, proposals and support are available for a negotiated solution to Colombia’s armed conflict .
We reaffirm the urgent need for the Presidents of Colombia and the United
States to take concerted and committed action. The historical task of opening
doors to overcome Colombia’s tragedy rests in your hands.
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