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7 August 1999

US Cuts Off Aid to Peru's Intelligence Service

A July 1 article in the New York Times notes that the US Senate's version of a foreign aid appropriations bill included a resolution criticizing "US support for the Peruvian National Intelligence Service." The bill passed the Senate on June 30 by a vote of 97 to two. According to the Times, the US has not openly acknowledged any relationship with the SIN, which the Times notes "has a reputation as an instrument of violent rightwing repression and, despite its ostensible role as a counternarcotics force, as an institution corrupted by cocaine."

"It's really indefensible for us to be supporting a corrupt and repressive organization like the Peruvian intelligence service," former US assistant secretary of state Elliott Abrams is quoted as saying by the Times. "The Congress should cut off this relationship now, before more damage is done to Peruvian democracy and to the reputation of the United States," Abrams added. "You cannot fight drug trafficking by supporting a corrupt and repressive organization that is destroying the bases for a democratic Peru." [It was not clear from the article whether Abrams' comments were made to the Times or to the Appropriations Committee.] The Times points out that while serving as former assistant secretary of state under then-president Ronald Reagan, Abrams "defended US ties to rightwing forces" [such as the Nicaraguan contras]. [NYT 7/1/99]

The Senate resolution is unlikely to take effect, since the House version of the appropriations bill does not include it and the two versions will have to be reconciled in committee [see item #6, below]. However, La Republica reports that immediately after the Senate resolution was passed, the State Department announced that for the next fiscal year and in the future, it would not assign any financing for SIN activities. Sources consulted by La Republica revealed that the US State Department gave $34,000 in 1996, $150,000 in 1997 and $25,000 in 1998 to fund an office of the SIN dedicated to the analysis of intelligence data on drug trafficking. The funds were designated for computers, software and training--not for field operations. [LR 7/2/99]

The same day that the Senate resolution was passed, La Republica reports, the Foreign Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution criticizing the Peruvian government for having jeopardized the independence of its judicial branch and electoral bodies, and condemning the government's constant harrassment of opposition politicians and journalists. The resolution cites the critical reports on Peru issued by the Inter-American Human Rights Court (CIDH) of the Organization of American States (OAS), and warns financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that they should tke into consideration the precarious situation of Peru's democratic institutions. [LR 7/2/99]

US ambassador to Peru Dennis Jett said the congressional resolutions represent concerns in Washington over anti-democratic tendencies in the Peruvian government. Jett left his post in early July, and now works for the Carter Center in Atlanta, headed by former US president Jimmy Carter. [LR 7/3/99]

Weekly News Update on the Americas * Nicaragua Solidarity Network of NY