Benjamin Gilman

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Benjamin Gilman

Sinn Fein sympathiser

In 2002, when allegations surfaced that the Irish Republican Army was working with Colombia's narco-terrorist FARC guerillas, the Irish Echo commented on many US Congressmembers' Sinn Fein sympathies.[1]

The 47-member House International Relations Committee represents a broad cross-section of congressional political opinion. Fourteen of the members represent northeast (mainly New York and New Jersey) constituencies, some such as Ben Gilman’s, with a strong Irish-American makeup. A substantial core of these have been identified over the years with Irish issues. As well as Gilman, they are Peter King, a New York Republican; Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat; Joe Crowley, a New York Democrat; Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican; Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, and Gary Ackerman, also a New York Democrat.
All have been sympathetic to Sinn Fein and the Irish nationalist agenda in general. King has been a long-time supporter also of the IRA. Smith was prominent in the hearings into Northern Ireland police reform. They can be expected to lend a sympathetic ear to any plausible explanation from Sinn Fein as to what the three republicans were doing in Bogota, should the party chose to send a representative to the hearing.
However, Rep. Hyde and Cass Ballenger a Republican from North Carolina, both conservatives, have been resolute in their determination to look at the allegations of IRA and FARC links. Ballenger was unequivocal when speaking before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on April 11. “The IRA has been in Colombia providing the FARC narco-terrorists with urban terrorist expertise and training,” he said.

Colombia Support Network letter

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In 2002, the Colombia Support Network organized a :dear colleague" letter to President Andres Pastrana Arango, of Colombia, through Ned Steiner, a staffer in Rep. Sam Farr's office.

The letter called on President Pastrana to end a military blockade on the Colombian town of San Jose de Apartado, a sister community of Madison Wisconsin, where the Colombia Support Network is based.

We write to you to bring your attention to the humanitarian crisis facing the civilian population of the Peace Community San Jose de Apartadó and its outlying settlements.
We urge the appropriate authorities of your government to dismantle the paramilitary checkpoint on the road between San Jose and Apartadó, ensure the continued safety of the road, and fully investigate recent threats and attacks on the Peace Community.
The Peace Community San Jose de Apartadó and its settlements, including the village of La Union, receive the permanent accompaniment of international organizations.

These include Peace Brigades International (PBI), as well as the U.S. Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), which currently has two US citizens in La Union. We support the work of these two respected organizations as well as the Peace Community in its effort to build a non-violent alternative to the conflict.

Representatives who signed the Colombia Support Network inspired letter in 2001 included Benjamin Gilman (R) NY. [2]

References