Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank my colleague for his comments on the bill. And I hope the gentleman will work, certainly, with the chairman and myself and many of us who would support increased funding to address the critical issues that the gentleman mentions.
However, within this allocation, the gentleman knows it was very difficult; and I feel very strongly that in terms of our international policies, nothing is more important than expanding our support in the country for all the important initiatives included in this bill and increasing the dollars that we can spend on them.
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 5 minutes. [Page: H5308]
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the McGovern-McCollum-Moore amendment to cut military aid to Colombia by $100 million.
For the past several years, we have debated Colombia policy here in the House. We are always being told that things are getting better; but they are not getting better, Mr. Chairman.
This policy has failed as an antidrug policy. It has failed as a human rights policy, and it has failed to have any impact whatsoever in reducing the availability, price or purity of drugs in the streets of America. In fact, illegal drugs are cheaper today than they were 6 years ago and $4 billion ago. And yet we will hear again today from supporters of Plan Colombia that everything is just rosy in Colombia, that we are winning the drug war, and respect for human rights is flourishing. Not true,
It makes no difference whether you are looking at the United Nations numbers, the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy numbers, the Colombian National Police, or the CIA's. It all adds up to the same picture. Compared to where we were in 1999, right before the start of Plan Colombia, coca cultivation in Colombia has declined by only 7 percent and in the Andean region by only 9 percent. And the growing of coca did not decrease at all in the year 2004.
On top of that, the U.N. and the Colombian National Police agree that opium growing in Colombia did not decrease at all in 2004.
You have to twist yourself into a pretzel to make something good out of these numbers. You do that by deliberately ignoring where we were 6 years ago before Plan Colombia and picking and choosing bits and pieces of statistics, like starting your comparisons in 2003. Well, that only works because you ignore the huge increases in coca production in 2000, 2001, and 2002.
But, ultimately, the most damning numbers come from our own Department of Justice, which states that cocaine remains readily available on the streets of America, with wholesale and retail prices for cocaine and heroin at an all-time low and purity at or near historic highs.
Congress was told that we had to support Plan Colombia. We had to pour billions and billions of U.S. tax dollars into the Colombian military to stop the surge of drugs in America.
Well, what a waste of money it has been. Six years ago, the Rand Corporation told us that every dollar we spent trying to wipe out coca in remote areas of Colombia would be 23 times more effective if we spent it right here at home on drug treatment, prevention, and education and on local law enforcement.
But Congress chose to ignore that good advice; and here we are, 6 years and $4 billion later. Now, we may have thought our policy was tough on drugs, but it sure was not very smart.
So how about human rights? Is Colombia's human rights situation any better today? Colombia is still the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade union leader. It is the second most dangerous place to be a religious pastor or lay leader.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees calls the issue of Colombia's internally displaced a great humanitarian crisis second only to Sudan. Death threats against human rights defenders have increased significantly over the past 18 months.
Abuses by the Colombian military are on the rise and the armed forces commit crimes with impunity, with no high-level Colombian military officer ever having been successfully prosecuted for human rights crimes.
Even our own State Department has not been able to certify any human rights progress in Colombia since March because the situation is so untenable. But has Colombia tried to improve their human rights situation at all so that the State Department could have something, anything that will allow it to certify? Not at all.
But so much pressure from the Pentagon and the Colombian Government and even from some members of Congress is building on the State Department to go ahead and certify anyway that I hear that the State Department is likely to certify right after this Congress breaks for the Fourth of July recess.
But the most galling thing of all is this: while U.S. taxpayers have sent over $4 billion of their hard-earned money to Colombia over the past 6 years, the wealthy elites of Colombia have hardly contributed a dime. Out of a population of 42 million people, only 740,000 Colombians pay any income tax at all, and even that is a pitiful amount. So Colombians are not paying to fight their own war, and they are not paying to improve the conditions that keep so many of their own people in poverty.
It is time that this House stood up and decided to stop sending a blank check to Colombia, year after year. It is time that we demand real progress on human rights as a condition to our aid. It is time that we stop being a cheap date.
We are not walking away from Colombia. We are just sending a long overdue message that it is time to take a cold hard look at our current course and change it.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to any attempts to cut funding for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative. I think this is a time to reaffirm, not dismantle, our commitment to this program, to the people of Colombia and to American citizens who want illegal drugs off their streets.
How can we cut funding when we are seeing tremendous results in illegal crop eradication? Coca cultivation in Colombia has been reduced by 33 percent since 2002, and opium poppy cultivation dropped 52 percent in 2004 alone.
As a result of ACI funding, we have seen unprecedented levels of drug interdiction. And interdiction is what this amendment goes to, cutting $100 million.
From January to May of this year, 71.7 metric tons were seized from traffickers and destroyed before reaching our neighborhoods. Each week brings news of new seizures of cocaine and heroin, interdictions that are usually the result of U.S. supplied intelligence.
In fact, just last month, Colombian authorities seized 13.8 tons of cocaine worth about $350 million in what was one of the largest drug busts in history. Interdiction efforts like these would not be possible if the gentleman's amendment passes.
The Colombian Government is reestablishing state presence in areas where the country has lacked it for a century. Criminals who have remained at bay for years are being captured and extradited to the U.S. for prosecution. Colombia has extradited 271 Colombian citizens to the United States since August of 2002, mostly on narcotics related charges.
How do we justify pulling the plug on ACI funding when we are seeing record numbers of extraditions to the U.S. of FARC and drug cartel members?
In 2004 alone, more than 11,000 narcoterrorists were captured. More than 7,000 terrorists have deserted their organizations since President Uribe took office. Thousands of weapons and rounds of ammunition have been surrendered. The demobilization and reincorporation of illegal armed groups are part of a process that is providing stability to the entire region.
Colombians are finally beginning to feel safer. The murder rate dropped 14 percent in 2004. It has dropped 25 percent thus far this year.
Plan Colombia is working. I have been down there several times. I have seen firsthand just a month ago the devastation that drug production and trafficking has on that country. But to those who question our investment, I would ask them to visit Colombian soldiers who have lost their limbs or their eyesight or sustained permanent disabilities in their battle to return peace to their nation and keep drugs off American streets.
On a recent trip, we accompanied Colombian National Police to a manual eradication site in the mountains and helped them pull the coca crop from mountainous terrain that helicopters cannot reach. These are dedicated people giving up their lives to destroy the drug trade and rid their country of drugs and violence and prevent their illegal importation to the United States.
Our travels have shown how critical U.S. assistance is to their government. [Page: H5309]
Of course it is not all rosy and a lot of obstacles remain. But the Uribe administration is committed to this war.
I ask, Mr. Chairman, that now is the time not to turn our backs on the progress we are making. We cannot win this war on drug-supported terrorism without the proper tools.
I urge a ``no'' vote on the McGovern amendment.
Ms. McCOLLUM of Minnesota. Mr. Chairman, the McGovern amendment to cut $100 million from Plan Colombia is about accountability and sending the message that cutting deals with narcotic traffickers who pose as politicians will not be tolerated by the American taxpayer.
After 6 years and over $400 billion, Plan Colombia is not reducing the supply of cocaine on our streets. But it has succeeded in making cocaine in America cheaper, more available, and more potent than ever before.
The drug war in Colombia is failing, failing the people of Colombia and the American taxpayer. Spending another $735 million to stay the wrong course and to continue to finance failure is irresponsible.
Let us send a message to Colombia that there are no more blank checks in the American taxpayers' checkbook.
Unfortunately, Plan Colombia has not made the Colombian people safer. More than 2 million Colombians have been forced to flee their homes. Ninety percent of the violent crime, murders, and rapes go unpunished. Human rights abuses among Colombia's military and law enforcement are all too common.
These are deeply disturbing trends: cheaper cocaine on American streets, millions of innocent people fleeing for their lives, lawlessness. This is hardly what we would call good governance.
In return for the narcoterrorism and corruption, the American taxpayers are being asked to reward the Colombian Government.
Now, a law passed by Colombia's congress and supported by President Uribe provides immunity and protection for right wing death squads and narcoterrorists.
For ending their participation in death squads, Colombia will be giving virtual immunity and protection from extradition to narcotraffickers, many who are sought by the United States.
One paramilitary death squad, the AUC, earns 70 percent of its income from narcotics trafficking. And the AUC is listed as an official terrorist organization by the U.S. Government.
The AUC's leader, Diego Murillo, is described as a brutal paramilitarian warlord who made a fortune in the drug trade. Under the plan for disarmament supported by our allies in Bogota, Murillo and terrorists like him who have committed massacres, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and murders of elected officials received freedom from prosecution. They get to keep their possession of riches.
In Colombia, if crime pays, if drug trafficking pays and terrorism pays, let us not have the American taxpayer pay for it. Congress needs to cut funding to Plan Colombia and save the American taxpayers $100 million and send a message that Colombia cannot protect narcoterrorists with our tax dollars.
I strongly urge my colleagues to support the McGovern amendment.
Mr. ROGERS of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, the amendment is well-intended but horribly misguided.
If you have spent time in Colombia, then you know that incredible progress is being made. This is absolutely the worst time to turn our backs on the great efforts that these folks are making against narco-terrorism, the FARC, the AUC, other militia groups. They are making progress.
Let me tell you a little bit about it. Kidnappings from 2002 to 2004 are down 52 percent. That is because they are on the offensive. President Uribe, 18 assassination attempts and maybe even climbing, has stood tall for democracy and said he will not tolerate the FARC, and the AUC, and narco-terrorist groups trying to control Colombia and sending death to America by cocaine paste and cocaine kilos and everything that we know is bad and killing our children in the streets of America.
We have a true partner who is willing to take and literally risk his life and his presidency to stop this in Colombia. This is the wrong time, Mr. Chairman.
Right now, we have three United States citizens hostage to the FARC. What message would we send to our friends in Colombia who are risking their lives to rescue these citizens from the FARC and other AUC groups by cutting this funding. This is not the time, Mr. Chairman.
This is the chance that we stand up and say, We are making progress. We will support an aggressive attitude toward narco-terrorist trafficking in not only Colombia, but all of Latin America and make that difference, not only for the three United States citizens that deserve our support, but every American who fights to keep drugs out of their family, out of their schools, out of their community.
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, I just want to respond to the gentleman who just spoke. Maybe he has not been reading the newspapers but the Colombian government just passed an amnesty law that gives narco-traffickers and the paramilitaries and people who have been guilty of crimes against humanity a get-out-of-jail-free card. That is one of the reasons why I am here today expressing my outrage.
Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Honda).
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Chairman, I have heard what they are against. What are you for?
We have got a drug problem that we are trying to deal with. Plan Colombia, according to the statistical data that has been quoted time and time and time again by my colleagues, and I am quoting a little bit about that, shows that we are making progress. You are against it, but what are you for?
I mean, we have got a war against drugs and you are standing here saying, okay, let us not do this, let us not do this, but the drug problem exists so what do you want to do about it?
Unless you have got some constructive alternative, I think you ought to take a hard look at what has been talked about here today by the colleagues on our side of the aisle.
Now, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) sent out a ``Dear Colleague'' to my colleagues and I would like to read you a little bit about what is in his ``Dear Colleague.'' Aerial eradication has reduced coca cultivation by 33 percent. That is a plus. Reduced coca cultivation by 16 percent in the Andean region in 2003 and by an additional 5 percent in 2004. That is a plus.
Opium poppy cultivation in Colombia dropped 52 percent in 2004, the third straight year of decline. That is a plus. They have got alternative development programs. Since 2000 we have supported and they have supported more than 63,000 hectares of legal crops, some substitutions. That is a plus. Resulted in the manual eradication of 23,200 hectares of illicit crops, coca and opium. That is a plus.
Security. Police presence is extended to all 158 municipalities in Colombia that did not have any police protection before. That is a big plus.
Colombia has extradited 271 Colombian citizens to the U.S. since August of 2002, mostly on narcotics-related cases. Another plus.
Human rights. Kidnappings were down 34 percent in 2004 and a further 60.9 percent through May of this year. Another plus. Homicides are down 14.2 percent and another 22.3 percent through May of this year.
There were 137,315 newly displaced persons in 2004. That is a drop of 67.5 percent. Those are all pluses. Those are things that are being accomplished.
Yes, we still have problems. Yes, there are narcotics in America. Yes, they are coming into this country. But we are making progress. And what you folks want to do is stop the progress. So what is your alternative?
I do not hear anything but complaints. This is the wrong time and it is the wrong message to send to our allies, President Uribe, who is making progress down there. It is also the wrong signal to send to the surrounding countries that have to deal with this drug problem and the drug cartel.
I guess I am out of time, but I think the point has been made. Unless you have a constructive alternative, I suggest you do what the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) has suggested. Read his ``Dear Colleague.''
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume. [Page: H5311]
Mr. Chairman, let me respond to the gentleman. I believe we need a balanced policy. And some of us tried in the Committee on International Relations and in the Committee on Appropriations to make some modest changes in support of increased alternative development aid, but we were shut down on even those modest changes. Maybe the gentleman did not listen to my statistics.
Also, we have a critique of the letter of the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) that he sent to Members of Congress, and I think the gentleman would be interested to know that some of the figures that the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) has cited we believe are totally inaccurate.
Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Meeks).
Mr. MEEKS of New York. Mr. Chairman, I am rising in support of this amendment partly because my colleagues on the other side of the aisle refuse to include reasonable amendments that direct or redirect funds to help the most in need in Colombia. In fact, they refuse to move on to a more balanced policy on Colombia.
For example, Afro-Colombians comprise approximately 26 percent of Colombia's total population. Nevertheless, they are overrepresented amongst the poorest of the poor. Eighty-two percent of this disadvantaged minority lack even basic public services.
There are problems with this bill, and we should not continue to throw good money after bad. Plan Colombia had 5 or 6 years to prove itself, and what it has proven is that the plan has caused more harm than good. Eighty percent of U.S. assistance to Colombia goes to the military and police. We need a more balanced policy on Colombia.
Plan Colombia's aerial fumigation strategy has forced coca growers not to stop growing but to move their coca crops further west and north to Afro-Colombian and indigenous territories. Fumigation is ruining food crops, animals and livestock, while threatening the health and environment of Afro-Colombians, especially in the department of Choco.
In 2002, only two municipalities in the department of Choco registered some sort of coca crops. Today, all 31 municipalities in that region have coca crops. Plan Colombia is destroying the traditional cultures of Afro-Colombians and their communities while providing little or no alternative development aid.
Furthermore, a primary U.S. objective for Plan Colombia has been to prevent the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. In my district in southeastern Queens, New York, and on the streets of the United States of America, cocaine remains available today and at lower prices than ever and the levels of use are stable, if not rising.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, and I ask my colleagues in conference to support alternative development and social programs that work and can make our policy in Colombia more balanced and thereby giving the American people a better bang for their buck in Colombia.
Mr. KIRK. Mr. Chairman, this amendment will be defeated later on today because it would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Colombia. We see a close connection between narcotics and terrorism.
The people of Colombia saw that. When the Medellin cartel killed three major candidates for president, the people elected the last candidate left who wanted to fight the narcoterrorists. In their last election, the people of Colombia chose the candidate who took the hardest line against narcoterrorists, and after September 11, who could blame them?
President Uribe of Colombia has asked for our help, and so far, what has our assistance accomplished? Coca growing is down, kidnappings are down, terrorist attacks are down, opium growing is down, several hundred drug kingpins extradited to the United States, and desertions among terrorist groups are up.
In a recent poll, 73 percent of Colombians said they supported the U.S. assistance under Plan Colombia. We have seen narcoterrorists in Colombia offer training to other terror groups in other countries; and with these international links, we see Colombian drugs not only poisoning our kids but the profits from their sale are now supporting international terror.
If we give up on Colombia, a new narcoterrorist state will rise in our hemisphere, and when a narco-state took power in 1991 in Panama, it took the direct action of the U.S. military to restore democracy.
I think we should not give up on democracy in Colombia. We should listen to the voices of their people through their elected president and make sure that he and his team remain in power and that this stays as a Colombian struggle and is not surrendered to become a full blown American one.
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Let me just respond to the gentleman, Mr. Chairman, if I can, by saying, if the Colombian people support this policy so much, then why is it that only 740,000 Colombians pay income tax in a country of 42 million people? That is a fact. That was stated in the Council on Foreign Relations report that came out last year.
Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul).
(Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment. I would only ask my colleagues on this side of the aisle, where have all the conservatives gone? Where are the fiscal conservatives? A decade or so ago, the conservatives on this side of the aisle voted against all foreign aid. Now they are the champion of foreign aid.
We are running a national debt increase right now of nearly $600 billion a year, and the gentleman from this side of the aisle suggests that maybe we can spend $100 million less out of a budget that is over $20.3 billion, suggesting we could save $100 million, which sounds like pretty good sense, and all we hear are complaints about why we need this program.
One gentleman asked the question, what are we for if we are against this program down in Colombia, Plan Colombia? Well, I'll tell my colleagues what I am for. I am for the American taxpayer, and I will tell my colleagues one thing. I will bet them I am right on this. I will bet my colleagues, on either side of the aisle ever goes home and ever puts it into their campaign brochure and say, you know what, I voted $20 billion for foreign aid; and I know nobody over here will go home and brag about
$100 million that they were able to vote against cutting from this side of the aisle. They will not do it.
I was here in 2000 when this debate was going on and strongly opposed it for various reasons, but I remember the pretext for Plan Colombia. The pretext was the drug war and this is what we have heard about today. The evidence is very flimsy. If there was any success on the drug war, production would be down and prices would be up. Production is up and prices are down, and that is an economic absolute.
So there has been nothing accomplished. There has been more production in other countries in the Andes, but the pretext there was only the drugs, but I remember so clearly in the year 2000 who lobbied for this bill.
Does anybody remember oil companies coming here to get their oil pipelines protected, and we still protect them? This is a little private army that we sent down there. We have 800 troops and advisers in Colombia and spending these huge sums of money.
Who else lobbied for Plan Colombia? Do my colleagues remember the debate on who would get to sell the helicopters? Would they be Black Hawks or Hueys?
Then we wonder where the lobby is from. It is not from the American people. I will bet my colleagues nobody wrote to anybody on this side and said please make sure you spend this $100 million dollars; this would be tragic if you would not spend it because it is doing so much good. That does not happen. It is the lobbying behind the scenes of the special interests whose interests are served by us being down there. It is part of this military industrial complex which exists, and I do not [Page:
believe it has had one ounce of success. I think it is a complete waste of money; and besides, just incidentally it is unconstitutional for us to do this.
Mr. HAYWORTH. Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleague from Arizona for the time.
I rise in opposition to the amendment. I do not doubt the sincerity of proponents of the amendment on either side of the aisle. Many compelling questions have been asked.
In the final analysis, it is my firmly held conviction that what many maintain would be re-evaluation, that this immediate reduction would send the signal of retreat.
We have heard criticisms of the taxation policies of Colombia. We have heard criticisms based on different political ideologies in the United States; but in the final analysis, as we conduct a worldwide war on terror, I would remind all in this House we are not just talking about Islamic fascism. We are talking about the rise of narcoterror.
For that reason I oppose the amendment.
Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
I want to commend the gentleman for offering this amendment, and I certainly agree with his intent, which is to minimize United States investment in failed counternarcotics programs.
For far too long, we have supported policies and funded programs in Colombia that simply do not work. Our counternarcotics programs in Colombia have long been an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.
The data we have from the National Drug Intelligence Center at the Department of Justice with respect to the success of this program is negative. It shows that the program has not decreased the amount of cocaine coming into the United States. In fact, the quantity of cocaine on our streets is increasing, and the price is decreasing, making it all the more affordable and attractive to our youth.
The billions that we have put into Plan Colombia have not been effective in substantially decreasing the amount of coca being grown in Colombia either. After spending over $4 billion and spending nearly 6 years, have we even cut coca production in half? No. We have decreased by less than 7 percent the number of hectares of coca in Colombia.
It is becoming even more difficult and costly to eliminate each hectare of coca. The U.N., whose own surveys found a small decrease in Colombian coca in 2004, found that for every acre of coca reduced in 2004, 22.8 acres of coca had to be sprayed. This ratio has never been so high.
U.N. statistics indicate that the overall amount of coca grown in the Andes increased by 3 percent last year, led by substantial increases in Bolivia, 17 percent; Peru, 14 percent.
Finally, the failure of this program to solve the problem of coca production is all the more compounded by the heavy toll it imposes on the rural communities in Colombia that are already suffering from armed conflict. Continuing to fund it at such a high level is simply bad policy.
I am troubled by the fact that this amendment cuts $100 million from the foreign operations bill without adding it back for one of the many programs that could use it. The allocation with which the gentleman from Arizona (Chairman Kolbe) and I had to contend is already $2.5 billion short of the President's request; and with the increased needs we face around the world, to combat the HIV/AIDS virus and other diseases, fight hunger, improve child health and education, and promote peace
and security in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe, I am concerned that this amendment further reduces our funding in the bill.
Again, I support the gentleman for raising these important issues, and I thank him for all the time he has spent really understanding the issue, working on the issue and trying to stress how useless this funding really is in making a dent in the coca operation.
Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mica), who is a member of the Task Force on Drugs.
Mr. MICA. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
I also had the privilege of chairing the Criminal Justice Drug Policy Subcommittee before the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) and inherited those responsibilities, actually, from the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hastert), the Speaker of the House. All during that era, the Clinton era, we saw really the beginning of this incredible problem in Colombia.
During the 8 years of the Clinton administration, the other side of the aisle, even some of the folks that have spoken today, did everything they could to keep resources from going to Colombia; and when you do not have the resources to combat narcoterrorism, what happens?
I have a little map here, and it shows where the drugs come from. This is not a guessing game. We know from chemical analysis even the fields the cocaine and heroin came from.
So they blocked helicopters, they blocked assistance, they blocked eradication, interdiction, anything they could, because they did not want to harm the hair on a single leftist terrorist in that region.
But we are now trying to get a handle on that with the efforts of Speaker Hastert, with this President.
They said Plan Colombia has not worked, when kidnappings are down a third in Colombia; they say it has not worked when murder is down a third; it has not worked when pipeline attacks from 2000, which were at 177 that year, to 20 last year. It has not worked?
Human rights? My colleague is concerned about human rights? Tens of thousands of people died, judges, legislators, thousands of police were slaughtered, and their human rights were not considered while you blocked aid and assistance.
We have a President of the United States who has a firm policy, we have a Speaker who has developed Plan Colombia and we are initiating that. We have success in that land because we have a President who is also getting the resources to another president, in Colombia, who has a tough stance against narco-terrorism.
The drugs in the United States are still killing our young people. We had over 26,000 people die, the silent deaths on our street. Our biggest social problem. This is where our few dollars and resources need to go, and that is where the drugs are, at their source, and we can eradicate them.
Talk to one mother or father who has had a child die of a drug overdose and you will see the worth of what we are doing here today. We know where these drugs are. We can eradicate them. And we can do that continuing Plan Colombia in an effective manner and not having the legs cut out from under us when we have made such great progress.
I urge defeat of the McGovern amendment. I urge defeat of attempts to again thwart the effort to stop drugs coming in across our borders.
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time and for his leadership on this important issue.
I rise in strong support of the McGovern-McCollum-Moore amendment to cut $100 million from the Andean counterdrug initiative account, which, by the way, still leaves $634.5 million in the account. I am not against helping create a more peaceful nation for the people of Colombia, and of course we want to reduce the flow of drugs to this country and the use of them by Americans, but I do not support throwing good money after bad in the quagmire that is our Colombia policy.
I wanted to read from an article today in the L.A. Times written by Sonni Efron, the headline being ``Drug War Fails to Dent U.S. Supply.''
``The Bush administration and congressional allies are gearing up to renew a plan for drug eradication in Latin America despite some grim news. The $5.4 billion spent on the plan since 2000 has made no dent in the availability of cocaine on American streets, and prices are at all-time lows. United Nations figures released this month show that coca cultivation in the Andean region increased by 2 percent in [Page: H5313]
2004 as declines in Colombia were swamped by
massive increases in Peru and Bolivia. And the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said last week that the antidrug effort has had 'no effect' on the price or purity of drugs in the United States. The findings have fueled skepticism in Congress where conservative groups have joined efforts to lobby against continued funding.''
Let me underscore that: ``Conservative groups have joined efforts to lobby against continued funding. The National Taxpayers Union calls the antidrug program a 'boondoggle.' '' That is from The L.A. Times.
And the policy of fumigation is not only ineffective, but it is inhumane. The majority of small farm families whose crops are sprayed do not receive assistance to transition to food crops from either the Colombian or the U.S. Governments. They are given no incentive to change their behavior, no alternative to make a living that will help them survive.
There are areas in Colombia where massive spraying is occurring and little or no development aid is provided. Even legal crops in those areas are killed. They are subsistence crops, and there is nothing given to replace that loss for those families. This is inhumane and it is also remarkably ineffective. Sixty-two percent of the coca fields detected by the U.N. in Colombia in 2004 were new; evidence that fumigation, in the absence of alternatives, is not moving farmers away from planting coca.
If we want a long-term and effective plan, it has to be a new one. It is not enough to send a report to our constituents each year and detail how much we are spending to go fight drugs. And it is not a real success when we reduce coca in one country while cultivation soars in another. We need to show them results, and this plan has provided none.
So if you truly care, you are going to support the McGovern-McCollum-Moore amendment and send a message that we need a new approach.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I find this debate most interesting, especially the statement made by the previous speaker, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mica). It has been my experience on this floor through the years that the most baffling moments come not when we are talking about things we do not know, but when we are talking about things that we do know that ``ain't'' so.
I think the gentleman from Florida just illustrated what I mean. He stood here on the floor and suggested that somehow those of us on this side of the aisle who are skeptical about Plan Colombia had blocked all kinds of initiatives. He also suggested that this plan was a plan which had been forged into a successful program by President Bush and Speaker Hastert.
Well, the fact is that I remember when Plan Colombia was first pushed through the Committee on Appropriations, because I opposed it vehemently. I thought, based on my experience in chairing the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, for 10 years, that our drug interdiction programs were largely a flop. I know that I had officials from the Reagan administration tell me privately that we had intercepted less than 5 percent of the drugs that came across the southern borders from not just Mexico, but
from elsewhere in this hemisphere.
I would ask what initiatives did we block? I wish we had blocked some, but what I remember is getting run over. And I was not run over by President Bush and Speaker Hastert, I was run over by President Clinton and Speaker Hastert. They were the two who pushed it down the throats of the Committee on Appropriations, each trying to compete with each other to show who was most zealous in their resistance to the drug problem.
So I would simply say I do not mind each of us rewriting a little history, if it is on purpose, but I hate to see history being rewritten by accident. That gets to be more than a little dangerous.
So I would simply suggest that on the merits, this program has had a long time to prove itself. In the end, the only way it could succeed is if you had a Colombian society that was determined to make it succeed, and that society has not been willing to do that. They have not been able to muster the forces necessary to deal with the problem effectively.
So we are left to ask what is ordinarily spoken of as a good conservative question, and that question would be: No matter how desirable this program is, does it work? And the answer is clear. This program has, at best, had only marginal success, very hard to see certainly, night or day. So I would simply suggest that with all of our challenges in the foreign aid area, even if we confine those challenges just to the Western Hemisphere, there are a lot of other places where we could more productively
spend this money than we are in this initiative.
Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, I thank the chairman for yielding me this time, and first of all, I want to commend him and the ranking member for bringing this bill to the floor and for all their hard work. It is a very difficult bill, as we can see by the debate here.
Mr. Chairman, today I rise in strong opposition to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern). The Andean Counterdrug Initiative is an important antidrug effort that supports Colombia and the countries in the Andean region. After years of steady increases, cocaine and heroin production in the Andean Region is decreasing. For the third straight year, from 2002 to 2004, the ACI has helped reduce coca production by 33 percent in Colombia and 21 percent in the
region. Opium poppy cultivation in Colombia dropped 52 percent in the year 2004 alone. The total land under coca cultivation in Colombia decreased 7 percent in 2004, the fourth consecutive annual decrease.
The United States and our allies disrupted the transport of 248 metric tons of cocaine headed through the transit zone before it could reach U.S. shores in 2004 alone. The ACI has helped streamline extradition procedures resulting in over 250 extraditions to the U.S. since August of 2002, including FARC leader Simon Trinidad and ex-Cali cartel leaders.
Over 60,000 families have received alternative crop development assistance, and almost 1,000 infrastructure projects have been built using ACI funds. Even as detractors cite individual instances of human rights' abuses, overall kidnappings dropped by almost 35 percent in 2004 and fell another 60 percent through May of this year. Homicides are down 14 percent in 2004 and dropped another 22 percent since May of this year.
Mr. Chairman, I would urge the Members to strongly oppose this amendment which would very much harm our ability to fight this scourge in our country.
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I rise with a great deal of concern about Colombia and in support of this amendment, because I think the facts I have heard here on the floor just misconstrue what is really going on down there.
We need to wake up and smell the coffee. The debate here should be about improving sales of Colombian coffee, not about the increased sales of Colombian coca. What was Plan Colombia has now become Plan K Street. What was supposed to help Colombians help themselves has now become Help American Corporations Stay in Business in Colombia. What should be money to eradicate the poverty that drives drugs in the first place has become a program to give Dyna Corporation $80 million, to give 16 U.S. contractors
money to maintain Colombian helicopters and money to U.S. firms to own and fly the eradication aircraft. This is not about Plan Colombia anymore. This is about Plan K Street. Lockheed Martin got $9 million.
Congress Members here travel to Colombia almost monthly on what I have now called the Narcotourism Tour that American Congressmen like to have. They come home thinking that they have seen the problems in Colombia and that all we need to do is give more money. I am all for a real Plan Colombia, a plan that invests in Colombia, that lets Colombians do the jobs that Americans should be working themselves out of. For 5 years the same companies are doing the same things they have been doing; 5 years
without [Page: H5314]
the Colombians owning those companies, without the Colombians doing that work.
It is time that we make a statement. Cut this $100 million, put it into alternative development, do something that helps Colombians help themselves so that we do not have to keep American corporations on the handout from American Congress Members to keep their businesses going in the guise of trying to eradicate drugs in Colombia. It is time to stop.
Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Weller), a member of the Committee on Ways and Means and also an individual who has spent a great deal of time in Central America and Latin America studying this issue.
Mr. WELLER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) and who I have great respect for, but disagree on some things, particularly this amendment. This amendment, I believe, would cut the rug out from under our democratically elected ally in Colombia.
Let us look at the facts. The facts are that Colombia is a democracy. The facts are that Colombia is our hemisphere's second oldest continuous democracy. The facts are that 90 percent of the cocaine and 50 percent of the heroin that comes into my home State of Illinois comes from the Andean region, particularly Colombia. The facts tell us that Colombian drugs in 2001 killed more Americans than the attack on the World Trade Center. The facts tell us that the criminal sale of narcotrafficking of
drugs supports almost 30,000 terrorists, terrorists who are affiliated with two leftist terrorist groups, FARC and the ELN, and one right wing terrorist group, AUC.
I would note that these are terrorist groups that enslave child soldiers, sending children into battle against the democratically elected government of Colombia.
Today, 65 elected officials, judges, and a presidential candidate are held hostage. They are political prisoners, held by the FARC. These 65 political prisoners are the only political prisoners held in our hemisphere outside of Cuba, that brutal dictatorship.
We have a partner in President Uribe, and Colombia is making progress under Plan Colombia. Homicides are down, kidnappings are down, terror attacks are down, and 250 narcoterrorists and drug kingpins have been extradited to the United States for trial. Again, Plan Colombia is working.
When it comes to intercepting drugs this past year, 475 tons of drugs were eradicated or seized in 2004. I would note just this past week the Colombian Government was successful. In one drug bust, they seized 15 tons of street-quality cocaine, worth $400 million in Boston or Chicago. Again, progress is being made. Clearly, by voting ``yes'' for this amendment, Members pull the rug out from under the democratically elected government of Colombia.
I have worked with many friends on both sides of the aisle. We have talked about finding alternative crops to help the farmers in Colombia make money and have a profitable alternative to becoming cocaleros, and I am proud that through USAID our investments are paying off. Today, thousands of former cocaleros are now cafeteros, growing coffee for a more profitable market as coffee prices have increased in the past year. As part of that commitment, the United States joined the International Coffee
Organization. Since then, prices have gone up $1 a pound.
Mr. Chairman, vote ``no'' on the McGovern amendment.
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 1/2 minutes.
Mr. Chairman, let us look at the facts. The facts are that illegal drugs are cheaper today than they were 6 years ago and $4 billion ago when we began Plan Colombia. The facts are that the elites in Colombia want us to bankroll this war. It remains an embarrassing fact that only 740,000 Colombians pay income tax in a country of 42 million. They are relying on us to bankroll this war.
Mr. Chairman, the other fact is that widespread impunity for human rights abusers is getting worse. It has been widely publicized in our newspapers about the new law that the Colombian Government has passed to grant immunity and to grant amnesty, for the most part, to individuals in the paramilitaries who are guilty of crimes again humanity, many of them involved in the drug trade, and they are doing that right before our eyes.
The facts are that the human rights situation is so bad that our own State Department has yet to certify human rights progress in Colombia. We are being drawn into a quagmire. The legal limit on the number of military and contractor personnel had to be increased in 2004 from 400 to 800 military, from 400 to 600 contractors.
Let us try to solve the problem of drug abuse, not just throw money at failing strategies. We need to invest in drug treatment and prevention here at home and in the Andes, in alternative development programs to help small farmers transition permanently from growing illicit drugs. But this policy has failed.
Mr. Chairman, the question was raised before what are we for. I include for the RECORD a statement of what we are for.
Rethinking Plan Colombia
Low-cost: use U.S. leverage far more vigorously in support of human rights and the rule of law; support the recommendations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for Colombia; insist upon the complete dismantlement of paramilitary forces and structures, within an effective legal framework for justice, truth, and reparations; make trade consistent with sustainable drug policy and human rights; encourage negotiations with the guerrillas for a just and lasting peace; encourage
Colombia's elite to use more of its own resources to improve governance.
Fund by reducing security assistance: support a strong judiciary and an independent [Page: H5315]
human rights sector; expand alternative development within a comprehensive rural development strategy, and end aerial spraying; encourage the strengthening of civilian governance in rural areas, including local peace-building initiatives; increase and improve humanitarian assistance, and expand protection, to displaced persons and refugees; reduce U.S. demand for drugs
through evidence-based prevention strategies and improved access to high-quality treatment.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Kolbe) for yielding me this time. I rise in opposition to the McGovern amendment.
This amendment would take valuable resources away from a program that is working to help keep drugs off our streets. The Andean Counterdrug Initiative was established to eliminate the cultivation and production of cocaine and opium, build Andean law enforcement infrastructure, arrest and prosecute traffickers, and seize their assets. The more we can disrupt the production of the drugs that are smuggled into our country, the safer our citizens will be.
The Andean Counterdrug Initiative has provided resources necessary to fight the war on drugs where these drugs are grown and processed, and efforts to disrupt the drug trade are working.
Aerial eradication efforts in Colombia have been impressive: 127,000 hectares were sprayed in 2003; 136,000 in 2004; and 95,000 hectares, or nearly 250,000 acres, have already been sprayed in this year alone.
Efforts like these, which are supported by resources from the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, have reduced coca cultivation in Colombia by 33 percent. Opium poppy cultivation in Colombia dropped 52 percent in 2004, which represents the third straight year of decline.
Due to these types of efforts, traffickers have been forced to decentralize their crops of coca, which has worked to decrease the total amount of coca cultivation. Efforts to seize drugs in Colombia have also seen impressive strides with the help of this important program.
Mr. Chairman, 114 metric tons of cocaine were seized in 2003, 178 metric tons in 2004. Drugs seized in Colombia are drugs that do not make it to the United States. Now is not the time to reduce funding for such a successful program. I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.
Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 30 seconds.
Mr. Chairman, if this policy is succeeding, why does cocaine remain readily available on U.S. streets at lower prices than ever, and the levels of use are stable if not rising? There is increased availability.
If this policy is such a success, why are there increased abuses by the army? Why are trade union murders on the rise? Murders of trade union leaders increased in 2004 over 2003.
Let us look at the facts here. The bottom line is that this policy has not succeeded. It is time for us to take a fresh look at it and to change course.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the McGovern amendment. Assistance under Plan Colombia is not just about policies; it is about saving lives. It is about the countless judges and other innocent Colombians who have, throughout the years, perished under the violence of ruthless narcotrafficking networks.
It is about fighting a threat to stability and security in our own hemisphere and addressing the drug activity and the related criminal enterprises that create an environment where terrorist activities can blossom. It is about assisting our democratic allies in confronting a threat that gradually erodes the institutional framework necessary for the survival of these relatively new and fragile democracies. It is about going to the source of the problem and providing for the welfare of our children
and our Nation's future.
Plan Colombia is working, and the funds appropriated in this legislation are vital for the continued success of this effort. If we truly care about the people of the Andean region, let us not abandon them. I ask my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the amendment.
Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Chairman, first, let me make a couple of points clear. This amendment does not save a dime. It merely transfers money from counternarcotics efforts to other efforts. Those Members who act like it saves money are wrong.
Secondly, it is about kids and families in America. It is not about contractors; it is about the cocaine on our streets and what is the best way to deal with it.
Look, this is a tough problem. I am not going to admit that it is not a tough problem. Rape is a tough problem. Child abuse is a tough problem. Spouse abuse is a tough problem, but we do not say let us give up efforts; let us give in because we have not seen a drop in spouse abuse or child abuse; why do we not just surrender and give the fight up.
Our problem is difficult here. This is a map of Colombia. If you look at the map, the reason you hear passing statistics going on here is because basically our policies have pushed the narcoterrorists out into the jungle, instead of on the streets of Bogota where they are assassinating elected officials, terrorizing individuals, as reported in Garcia Marquez's book, ``Diary of a Kidnapping.'' We have pushed them into the jungle, so we have seen a tremendous drop in kidnappings and a tremendous
drop in murders and blockades and all other types of things in the populist areas of this part of the country.
The fact is that now for the first time in modern history, every single city and town in this country has an elected official because he is not worried about being murdered.
I am all for alternative development. Alternative development, however, first requires you to get the guy from the FARC and the ultraparamilitary rightist groups away from them with a machine gun saying, plant palm heart and I will kill you. As you talk to the individuals, you can offer all of the incentives you want; but, quite frankly, they can make more money in coca. And as long as they are being terrorized and as long as they think they can make the money in coca and the terrorists think
they can make money in coca, they are not going to let them do alternative development.
So we have to get control of the land. Just like in Afghanistan with heroin, it is fine for us to talk about alternative problems; but until you eradicate the heroin, it does not do any good to talk to them about planting a crop that will yield only about one-fifth the amount.
Now, I want to put a couple of other charts up here to show Members the depth of this problem. This is the eastern Pacific and western Atlantic. In this map from southwest Colombia in the eastern Pacific, you see the main trafficking routes. This is a Caribbean route, basically, going over to Yucatan.
The reason that is important is if you look at this map, the area we are trying to patrol in the eastern Pacific is basically as big as the continental United States. That does not even count the Caribbean.
Now, facts are stubborn things. In 1993, we cut 75 percent of the interdiction budget. What we saw was cocaine and heroin pour in from Colombia in that region to the point where after basically 10 years of effort, we have steadily reduced it back to where we were. It jumped 50 percent in 12 months when we cut the budget. We are now gradually working our way back down and trying to restabilize.
Let me conclude with this. This is not a Colombian problem; it is our problem. It is our addictions and Europe's addictions that have terrorized this 200-year-old democracy. Because we have not licked drug abuse in America, they have had 30,000 police killed. President Clinton, while initially he had bad policies in his administration, he is the one who came up with the Andean Counterdrug Initiative and came up with the Colombian Initiative, working with this Congress, because he realized it
did not work to cut back. [Page: H5316]
It was terrorizing a legitimate democracy. An economy that has coffee, emeralds, oil, flowers, that had a flourishing middle class, that is an example of a country that fights for itself, where their police are dying. Unlike what it has taken in Afghanistan and Iraq to rebuild a police force, they had a police force. What they needed was helicopters, bullets, and communications systems. They needed help with their legal system and alternative development. They needed help with building roads
into some of the rural areas where they had fled to. We provided that help to the Colombians.
This is a model of what we are trying to do in Iraq and Afghanistan; but it shows that when the terrorists can get drug money, whether it be in Afghanistan or Colombia, they are a threat to the stability, to the law and order, and to the people who want to follow the law. We need to stand behind them because it is our habit that has caused the problem.