The COLOMBIA SUPPORT NETWORK (CSN) were distressed to learn of the activities of two members of the US military in Colombia. Michael J. Cohen and Cesar Ruiz, assigned under Plan Colombia to the military base of Tolemaida, located in the municipality of Melgar in Tolima department. They are reported to have enticed a 12 year-old Colombian girl to go with them on August 25, 2007, and brought her into the base, where they fondled and raped her.

This is only the latest in a series of misdeeds by US soldiers in the Melgar area. Three years ago soldiers and technicians from the US produced pornografic videos of Colombian youth and put them our for sale at $10,000 pesos (About $ 5 US dollars) apiece. The Colombian young people had to leave their community as a result. And in May of 2005 Colombian Police captured a Sergeant and a military technician from the US with ammunition which they apparently intended to sell to the FARC guerrillas. That same month 5 US soldiers assigned to Plan Colombia duty, were taken into custody and charged with sending 16 kilos of cocaine camouflaged in a military aircraft, out of Colombia through the Apiay military base in Villavicencio.

CSN has on numerous occasions protested the human rights abuses of the Colombian military against Colombian citizens. But we specially decry the mistreatment of Colombians by US military personel. These violations of law and human rights must be investigated and the perpetrators punished. The US government has required the Colombian government to sign and agreement denying Colombia the right to prosecute US military personnel for their crimes committed in Colombia. We understand that Michael Cohen has been taken out of Colombia by the US government. We believe this  action, which appears to put US military personnel above the law, must be rescinded.

Please write to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, US Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield, and your Representatives in the US Congress to urge them to support the investigation of criminal conduct by US military personnel in Colombia, with severe punishments for those found guilty of the crimes of rape, drug-trafficking and arms-trafficking. And tell them your support of the repeal of the liability waiver for crimes by US military personnel in foreign lands.

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

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