U.S. to Train, Supply Colombian Anti-Drug Brigade!

U.S. to Train, Supply Colombian Anti-Drug Brigade!
Posted by FoM on December 27, 1998 at 06:44:08 PT

WASHINGTON  The United States will train and partially finance a new counter-narcotics brigade within the Colombian army, The Washington Post reported Sunday. 
U.S. aid will provide training and partial funding for a 1,000-person anti-drug unit as well as a CIA-backed intelligence station deep inside the Amazon jungle, the Post said. Colombia supplies about 80 percent of the cocaine and more than half the heroin sold in the United States. The move, which has raised concern among human rights groups, comes as U.S. officials fear that the Colombian military could lose ground to Marxist rebels financed by drug traffickers. Defense Secretary William Cohen and his Colombian counterpart, Rodrigo Lloreda, agreed to the policy earlier this month, the Post reported. The rebels, known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), rely on drug revenue to buy sophisticated weaponry and intelligence-gathering equipment. They have used those tools to inflict a series of defeats on the Colombian military. But because of Columbian armed forces' links to drug traffickers and right-wing paramilitary groups, the new U.S. commitment disturbs human rights monitors. "This is a very dangerous signal that the United States is willing to engage a military without measures being taken to improve human rights performance," Winifred Tate of the Washington Office on Latin America told the Post. One senior U.S. official said the new effort marks a major change in American policy toward Colombia, where drug money has long corrupted the country's officer corps. In the early 1990s, citing human rights abuses, the United States cut off most direct aid to Colombia's armed forces. Colombia is now one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, receiving about $220 million in fiscal 1998. Of that, $180 million went to the country's police. To pay for the brigade, the Colombian military has asked the United States for $1.3 billion over five years, the Post reported. U.S. officials say they are unlikely to provide that much, but will train the unit and provide some equipment. The hope is that attacking the drug trade will dry up the rebels' source of cash, which they have parlayed into gains on the ground. In one battle last summer, FARC rebels killed or captured 125 of the 152 members of an elite counterinsurgency unit and made off with hundreds of automatic rifles, night-vision gear and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to the Post, which cited U.S. and Colombian sources. The FARC is one of two insurgent movements that have battled the Bogota government for decades. 
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Comment #1 posted by john on October 20, 1999 at 13:38:50 PT:
I was hopeing to get more information or statistics on cannabis. i'm fighting a small battle against a loved one who is an advid pot user. she sees nothing wrong with it! however she is also a big environmentalist and member of peta. so i thought there has to be some information on the negative environmental effect or the deforestation of land in columbia (and possibly the endangerment of species),to grow these pot farms! i know one user does not seem like much in the overall scope of the drug war but it matters to me can you please help!
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