Stay Out of Colombia's Civil War
by Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.)
May 27, 2002

I think I have been to Colombia more than any Member of Congress in the past 10 years. I do not know that for a fact, but I think so. I have lost track of the trips. And I do not go to Cartagena and take the carriage ride through the tourist section. I have been to Neva, I have been to San Jose, I have been to where the pipeline is that the President wants to spend $98 million of our tax money to protect – a pipeline owned by Occidental Petroleum through which Colombian National Oil Company oil flows and, by the way, they had record profits last year.

I have got to tell you, every time I come back from Colombia, I come back with the same sick conclusion, and that is that the Colombians are going to do their utmost to get us to fight this civil war for them.

You see, what has not been mentioned yet today is unlike the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton) who had two sons in Desert Storm, the Colombians just changed their law to where if you have a high school diploma, you are exempt from their draft. All of us can get the gist of that real quick. The politicians' sons are not going to fight this war. The poor bubba from the countryside, he does not have a high school diploma, so he goes and gets shot.

The Colombians are in the midst of a 38-year civil war, and yet they have cut their own defense budget in the past three years. Now, that is a fact.

Let me tell you what is even worse. When I went to little towns like Neva, it is probably a big deal in a little town like that for an American congressman to show up, so their chamber of commerce came out to meet me. We had a very long visit. We drank a few beers. They were amazingly honest.

I said, "Guys,'' I was trying to compare their tax load to ours. I said, "What do you all pay in taxes?'' These were bankers, these were lawyers, these were the local mayor, the civic leaders. Their answer was, "We don't pay taxes. Yes, they are on the books, but we don't pay them.''

You see, Americans do pay taxes, and what I really resent is a country where they pride themselves on not paying taxes, where they pride themselves on their kids avoiding military service, asking people in Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia, whose kids do volunteer to serve our country, to go fight their war for them.

I think the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) is exactly right. And I will take it a step further. I want to make this as personal as I can. I think it is insane for this Nation to spend $98 million to protect a pipeline that Occidental Petroleum owns with American lives.

I am going to make this as personal as humanly possible. President Bush, I will send my kids to guard that pipeline when you send your kids to guard that pipeline. Because I do not think you are going to see your daughters down there, and I sure as heck do not want to see my daughters or my son down there.

If the Colombians do not take their civil war seriously, then we should not either. My God, all day long we have been talking about being for the troops. Is not the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sam Johnson) proof positive what goes wrong when good kids go off to fight a war that our Nation does not really understand, that a Nation maybe should not be involved in? This is that case.

Guys, this is dead serious. I shut down the House two weeks ago because I wanted a vote on this. I cannot go to a funeral in Wiggins, I cannot go to a funeral in Louisville, I cannot go to a funeral in Waynesboro, and look somebody in the eye and say your son or daughter died doing the best thing for America.

This is not about America. The FARC and the ELN have gone out of their way not to target Americans. In 20 years, only 10 Americans have died in Colombia. They do not want us in their war. It is their war, and it is not worth sending my kids or your kids to die in. They do not even pay their own taxes. Their kids do not serve. So why on good God's good earth are we going to send our tax money and our kids to fight in it? Please support the Skelton-McGovern amendment. Do not waste one American life needlessly.

Gene Taylor represents Mississippi's fifth congressional district.

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