All for the Kids

By Catherine Byun, student/journalist

Originally published in The New Haven Advocate (CT)

The Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis gave U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro its Richard Manware Humanitarian Award in early June for her extensive work for the advancement of children's issues in Connecticut.

One month earlier, The New York Times reported allegations of U.S.-financed planes repeatedly spraying pesticides on schoolchildren in a Colombian village. DeLauro not only supports but actively promotes sending over a billion dollars to the Colombian government for this kind of anti-narcotics effort even though a) domestic drug demand reduction is 23 times more efective than supply-side reduction, b) the Colombian government has a notoriously bad human rights record and c) the Colombian government, its paramilitary allies and the rebels they're fighting are all deeply involved in a 40-year-old civil war and are all deeply involved in drug trafficking.

Asked after the CCCC award ceremony if she had a few minutes to discuss this apparent discrepancy between her humanitarian work and her disregard for the human rights of Colombian civilians, DeLauro was dismissive. "Could I enjoy my evening?" she said, and walked away.

When asked again later if she had a few minutes, she curtly replied, "Frankly, no I don't," and shot out of the Omni hotel reception room with a phalanx of suited men.

The US House of Representatives - DeLauro included - voted this spring to send 30 Black Hawk helicopters to Colombia for anti-narcotics police.

Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of the United Technologies Corp., makes the Black Hawks in Stratford, part of DeLauro's congressional district. If the Senate approves the same aid-package, Sikorsky will take the largest chunk, $360 million. An interesting note: United Technologies has given DeLauro $14,000 in campaign contributions since her 1998 campaign.

Then again, maybe DeLauro isn't just caving in to big-money pressure. Maybe she's doing it in the interest of the Connecticut economy, for the children of Connecticut. That's what she's got to keep telling herself: The kids. It's for the good of the kids. Just not the Colombian ones.

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