|2:36 PM EDT||
Dan Burton, R-IN 5th
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word for the purpose of entering into colloquy with the distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the Committee on Appropriations regarding the fiscal year 2006 budget for counternarcotics programs in Peru.
Mr. Chairman, as chairman of the Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, I have been extensively involved in United States counternarcotics efforts in Central and South America. As a result, I was deeply disappointed to see that the President's fiscal year 2006 request for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative for Peru is 16 percent below last year's enacted level. The President's budget aims to reduce the U.S. assistance for Peruvian counternarcotic eradication
and interdiction from a level of $62 million enacted in 2005 to a request of $54 million in 2006, and reduces alternative development funds from a level of $54 million to $43 million.
I believe this is absolutely the wrong time for such a cut and such a low level of funding, if enacted, will only jeopardize the gains we have made in Peru in the areas of coca eradication, interdiction and alternative development.
In 2004, with the assistance of the United States, Peru eradicated almost 10,000 hectares of coca, of which 7,500 hectares were eradicated manually by the Peruvian police, and another 2,500 hectares were voluntarily eradicated by Peruvian communities in exchange for community development programs. Moreover, alternative development programs supported legally grown crops on almost 20,000 more hectares of Peruvian farmland.
Historically, Colombian narcotraffickers sent cocaine base from Peru to Colombia for conversion into cocaine HCL, but in recent years the traffickers have relied more on coca cultivation and base production in Colombia. But the traffickers in Colombia are under increasing pressure from the Colombian Government, thanks to the successes of Plan Colombia.
So far we have successfully avoided a so-called ``balloon effect'' from the successes of Plan Colombia in terms of seeing Colombian traffickers substantially shifting cultivation of narcotics crops back to Peru. But there are warning signs, indications that coca cultivation is starting to spring up outside the traditional cultivation zones in Peru that point to this happening if we do not take steps to prevent it.
Additionally, there is good intelligence that appears to indicate an upward trend in terms of poppy cultivation in Peru regarding heroin. I have spoken to officials in Peru, and they are deeply concerned about these warning signs, as well as the emerging opium threat.
Recent Ministry of Peru data indicates that Peru now may have 1,400 [Page: H5292]
hectares of opium crops, mostly in the north near the Ecuadorian and Colombian borders, and there are strong indications that opium latex is now being moved by Colombian drug dealers through Ecuador into Colombia for processing into heroin. A recent seizure of 4,440 kilos of opium in Peru, nearly half a ton of opium, potentially 40 kilos of processed heroin, shows just how serious the
growth of opium is becoming.
Taken as a whole, I believe, as do my colleagues in Peru, that this data indicate that enacting drastic cuts for Peruvian counternarcotic efforts at this time would seriously undermine Peru's coca eradication efforts in the long term and the ability of Peru to implement a similar opium eradication program.
So, Mr. Chairman, the government and, more importantly, the people of Peru have recognized the dangers of narcotics to their society. Public polls last year consistently found that Peruvians see narcotics as the second most serious problem in the country after the state of the economy. The people of Peru have taken a courageous stand against the drug traffickers; and like the people of Colombia, they are taking their country back from the criminals and terrorists. Now is not the time to reduce
U.S. support for their efforts.
I would like to yield to my colleague from Arizona to hear his views about this funding.