CHURCH LEADERS in Latin America have added their voice to a letter written to President Bush urging him to re-direct US financial support for Columbia's anti-drug campaign.
The signatories said that they were "gravely concerned" that the programme, which is supported by the American administration, would undermine the fragile peace process, while having little or no effect on the drug problem in consumer countries.
Plan Columbia is a £7.5 billion initiative in that country, which includes a bundle of agrarian, social and military projects, for which the US Congress in 2000 pledged one point three billion pounds in military support for a stepped up "war on drugs".
For years Columbia, which produces an estimated 80per cent of the world's cocaine supply , has been afflicted by drug-related kidnappings and murders.
FOUR Ml:N and one woman are on trial in Guatemala for the murder in 1998 of the human rights activist, Bishop Juan Gerardi Condera.
The bishop was bludgeoned to death after releasing a human rights report that implicated the military in the majority of deaths during the Guatemalan civil war.
Retired Colonel Disrael Lima Estrada, his son Captain Byron Lima Oliva and former bodyguard, Jose Obdulio Villanueve are being tried with a priest, who shared the bishop's home and the Church cook. All five maintain their innocence.
CSW, a Christian human rights organisation, has called upon the Guatemalan government to ensure that this is a fair trial, because of the protection it has given the military in the past.
Three more freed in Peru
THREE MORE Peruvian men were released this week, after serving upwards of seven years in prison, for crimes they did not commit.
Genry Casteneda Rengifo, Marino Fernandez Alpaca and Jahuar Machaca Condori had been unjustly convicted of terrorism and given lengthy prison sentences under a antiterrorism system, put into action by former President Fujimori.
The incoming administration, led by President Paniagua, has been praised for taking such action. Over the past decade hundreds of innocent Peruvians were summarily tried and imprisoned on charges of terrorism. The accused , were unable to cross-examine witnesses, challenge government evidence, or call witnesses on their own behalf. Many were convicted on the flimsiest of evidence and sentenced to life in prison with little or no recourse for appeal.