Extra Drug-War Funds Urged for Latin America!

Extra Drug-War Funds Urged for Latin America!
Posted by FoM on July 17, 1999 at 08:15:45 PT
By Frank Davies, Herald Staff Writer 
Source: Miami Herald On Line
WASHINGTON -- Responding to an ``emergency situation'' in Colombia, drug czar Barry McCaffrey has begun a push within the Clinton administration for an additional $1 billion in aid for the drug war in Latin America, with most of the money going to war-torn Colombia.
``The level of aid to date is inadequate,'' said McCaffrey at a press conference Friday after meeting here with Colombia's top two military leaders. ``As to what size the [increase] should be, that will be up to a dialogue within the executive branch and Congress.''But in a July 13 ``dear Madeleine'' letter, McCaffrey was much more specific in seeking Secretary of State Albright's support for a new package of assistance. The drug czar warned that unreleased CIA reports will show a big increase in coca production this year, ``eroding gains made'' in the drug war.``This is a near-crisis situation,'' McCaffrey said. ``Colombia is facing an enormous internal threat.''Noting that drug profits are fueling the guerrilla war in Colombia, where pitched battles were fought this month, McCaffrey sent Albright a five-page memo that suggests how $570 million in new aid to Colombia could be spent: $360 million for stepped-up efforts in crop-growing areas in southern Colombia; $130 million for air interdiction; $20 million for the judiciary and legal system, and $60 million for nationwide law enforcement.In addition, McCaffrey's proposal suggests $430 million for regional drug-fighting efforts, upgraded technology for U.S. forces and expanded economic aid to provide alternatives to coca farmers.McCaffrey's aid proposal has been discussed by State Department and National Security Council officials, but it was unclear Friday if the administration would press for such a big increase in assistance -- or how Congress would receive it.The Republican leadership in Congress has emphasized more spending on military hardware and drug eradication, with a $600 million two-year allocation last fall that includes six Blackhawk helicopters due to arrive in Colombia in September. Colombia now ranks third behind Israel and Egypt as a recipient of military aid.Additional aid ``shouldn't necessarily fund more helicopters,'' said McCaffrey, who will visit Colombia July 25. ``Economic development and training and support for the judiciary are very important.''Another sensitive issue facing U.S. officials is whether increased military aid will not only target drug traffickers but help the Colombian military combat a huge threat from guerrilla groups that control about 40 percent of the country. Guerrillas launched bloody attacks near Bogota in the last week.Before conferring with McCaffrey, Colombian Defense Minister Luis Fernando Ramirez and Gen. Fernando Tapias met with congressional leaders this week, including Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla. They asked for $500 million in new U.S. aid over two years to combat traffickers -- and the guerrillas often allied with them.The military leaders also said they would need the aid if long-delayed peace talks, due to start next week, break down.McCaffrey said it was ``silly at this point'' to try to differentiate between anti-drug efforts and the war against insurgent groups because traffickers and guerrillas work together. A GAO report last month said that was making it more difficult for U.S. officials to share anti-drug intelligence with Colombian officials without also affecting the guerrilla war.Some human rights backers and advocates for more economic aid to Latin America worry that a big increase in military aid may draw the United States further into the conflict and divert attention from abuses by paramilitary groups.``If we're investing in the Colombian army, we're investing in that war, and that's a real concern,'' said Lisa Haugaard, legislative coordinator for the Latin America Working Group, a coalition of church and charitable organizations.Her group supports more help for Colombia's huge internal refugee population.Pubdate: July 17, 1999 Related Articles
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Comment #3 posted by Pat on July 18, 1999 at 17:12:14 PT
If US gov't spends enough billions in Columbia, it
... can probably manage to raise Columbia's murder rate from it's present astronomical rate of about 99 murders per 100,000 people, to perhaps 150 murders per 100,000 people, per year.I think our national drug czar is a very dangerous person, who has the blood of thousands victims who have died because of the violence that our current Prohibition brings, on his hands.This demonstrates, yet once again, one of the many perils of allowing governments to get too big and too powerful. The bigger and more powerful governments become, the more destruction they bring into the World.One has to wonder if we, as a species, will learn this important lesson, before it is to Late....Peace, Pat Whelan
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on July 17, 1999 at 13:57:10 PT:
Here's The Working Link!
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on July 17, 1999 at 13:54:07 PT:
U.S. Anti-Drug Chief Proposes $1 Billion For War!
U.S. Anti-Drug Chief Proposes $1 Billion For Colombian WarAid for army in fight against leftist guerrillas Alarmed by recent advances by Colombian guerrillas who are accused of protecting drug traffickers, the Clinton administration's top anti-drug official is asking that the United States give $1 billion in emergency assistance to the Colombian government. The request by Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, comes as Colombia's defense minister and the chief of its armed forces are in Washington on an official visit. In meetings yesterday and on Thursday, the Colombian officials said they are seeking an additional $500 million in U.S. aid over the next two years. ``We are preparing modern armed forces that, if peace can be achieved, will guard our borders and natural resources,'' said Defense Minister Luis Fernando Ramirez. ``That is the country we dream of. But we are also preparing the armed forces for war, if need be.'' In a series of attacks beginning July 8, units of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's main leftist guerrilla group, came within 25 miles of the capital before being driven back. On July 10, President Andres Pastrana imposed a limited curfew in 10 of Colombia's 32 provinces but has also said he plans to go ahead with peace talks with the guerrillas that are scheduled to begin Monday. McCaffrey's recommendation, which would dramatically increase U.S. support for Colombia's armed forces if approved, calls for $1 billion in ``emergency drug supplemental'' assistance for Colombia and other drug-producing countries during the fiscal year beginning in October. The request is contained in a letter and discussion paper he sent to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Attorney General Janet Reno, copies of which were obtained by the New York Times. Before meeting with Ramirez and Gen. Fernando Tapias in Washington yesterday, McCaffrey said he would ``not publicly discuss the details'' of any recommendations he has made to other U.S. officials. But he made it clear that he strongly favors the Colombians' request for increased U.S. support. ``Colombia is in a near-crisis situation,'' he said. ``This is an emergency.'' He added that, because ``criminal trafficking organizations have done serious damage to Colombian national security over the past few years,'' the United States has an obligation to ``support the Colombian government as it attempts to reassert democratic control over its drug-producing regions.'' In a briefing Thursday at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., Gen. Charles Wilhelm, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Southern Command, played down recent guerrilla gains, saying the insurgents ``have not had a single real tactical success.'' Formally, all U.S. aid to Colombia, which produces most of the world's cocaine and most of the heroin consumed in the United States, is intended for anti-drug rather than counter-insurgency efforts. But in practical terms, the distinction is fading, as Tapias made clear Thursday when he said, ``The aid we are seeking is to fight drug traffickers and any group that helps them.'' After meeting several U.S. senators Thursday, Ramirez said Colombia wants the money to buy more military helicopters, interceptor planes and radar equipment. In remarks carried in yesterday's Bogota newspapers, he said Colombia also ``hopes to obtain on loan some of the equipment the Southern Command had at Howard Air Force Base in Panama'' before closing operations there in May. But the McCaffrey proposal would provide much more aid in a shorter time than the Colombians are seeking. The emergency aid would include $360 million to bolster existing anti-drug operations in southern Colombia, and an additional $130 million ``to establish Colombia's ability to interdict in southern Colombia,'' a region increasingly dominated by the guerrillas. Larry Rohter with Christopher S. Wren,New York Times Saturday, July 17, 1999 1999 San Francisco Chronicle Page A10 
U.S. Anti-Drug Chief Proposes $1 Billion For Colombian War
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