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Colby College and the Oak Institute for the Study of International Human Rights have invited a group of top experts on Latin American affairs to present a panel discussion on Monday, September 25, titled “Confronting the Crisis in Colombia: Testing U.S. Foreign Policy in the New Millennium.” The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in room 01 of the Olin Science Center, and it is open to the public free of charge.

The U.S. government recently announced a $1.5-billion aid package for Colombia, primarily assistance for the Colombian military. With questions about significant human rights violations by the military, and particularly by paramilitary organizations upon which it relies, the aid proposal is controversial, both within the United States and with neighboring countries in Latin America.

Representing the U.S. government in the discussion will be Alex Lee, the senior officer for Colombia in the U.S. State Department’s Office of Andean Affairs. Other members of the panel are Cynthia Arnson, assistant director of the Latin American program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Winifred Tate from the Washington Office on Latin America, a non-governmental organization that has been critical of U.S. foreign policy in Colombia.

Speakers will offer their views in a 10- to 15-minute talk before the participants respond to one another’s positions.

The Oak Institute is focusing on Colombia because this year’s Oak Human Rights Fellow, currently in residence at the college, is Hector Mondragon, a crusader on behalf of peasants, indigenous peoples and other dispossessed groups in Colombia. A public address by Mondragon is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 5, in the Robins Room of Colby’s Roberts Building.