Sign On to Letter in Support of Maintaining Human Rights Conditions on U.S. Assistance to Latin America

By Shannan Vance-Ocampo

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship recently co-signed a letter to the Joint Federal Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs with 46 other organizations to request that human rights conditions are included in the fiscal year 2016 budget for foreign assistance for Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Colombia. This is in response to the lessoning and in some cases, removal of these conditions to the U.S. Federal budgeting process.  We were joined in signing this letter by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  
As an organization committed to peace out of our discipleship in Jesus Christ, this is a key issue of oversight and use of our tax dollars that must be closely monitored. All four countries in Latin America benefit heavily from U.S. assistance, much of us in military dollars or U.S. AID funds that are also tied to militarization. All four countries have recent and decades-long histories of impunity and human rights violations that tie back to our funding.  And all four countries have high numbers of graduates of the School of the Americas which have operated or are operating in their country. These are issues we have long spoken out on and that are partners, especially those in Colombia, remain greatly concerned about and monitor.  
I urge you to share this letter with your congregation and community and to share that our denomination, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and many other partner organizations stand for restoring human rights requirements into U.S. funding. This is the bare minimum we can ask for in foreign operations assistance as people of faith.