Clinton Blamed for Heroin Crisis!

Clinton Blamed for Heroin Crisis!
Posted by FoM on August 06, 1999 at 10:43:21 PT
By George Gedda, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP)House International Relations Committee chairman Benjamin Gilman said today the Clinton administration's failure to get high-performance helicopters to Colombia is ``directly responsible for the massive heroin crisis'' on the U.S. East Coast.
Gilman, R-N.Y., commented in testimony prepared for a hearing of a House Government Reform subcommittee. A copy of his remarks was made available to The Associated Press.``The U.S. response under the current administration to both the increasing drug threat and the growing insurgency menace in Colombia has been benign neglect at best and gross negligence at worst,'' Gilman said.He said Congress appropriated funds in 1996 to purchase over 30 new long-range, high-altitude helicopters for the Colombian National Police for eradication of opium poppy fields. But, he said, only two have been delivered.Gilman added that heroin-related deaths and overdoses in the United States ``could have and should have been eradicated at the source'' years ago.The drug issue will be high on the agenda for Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, who is planning to meet with Colombian President Andres Pastrana on Tuesday in Bogota. Also on the agenda will be Colombia's increasingly powerful leftist insurgency.The administration denies it has been ignoring the drug problem.Colombia ranks third on the list of aid recipients with $289 million earmarked for counter-drug activity this year. Barry McCaffrey, the White House drug control chief, said recently an additional $1 billion is needed because current efforts are falling short. He said the situation has reached ``emergency'' proportions.The drug war also is costing the United States in other ways: five U.S. soldiers were killed two weeks ago when their U.S. Army spy plane crashed into a Colombian mountainside while on a counter-narcotics mission. Two Colombian Air Force officers also were killed.Another component of the counterdrug effort is training by U.S. Special Forces of a 1,000-member Colombian anti-narcotics battalion, which will be ready for duty toward the end of the year. Colombian officials are hopeful the battalion can neutralize guerrillas who finance their operations by protecting coca fields. This would allow the police to carry out fumigation and eradication programs.Bernard Aronson, who served as former President Bush's chief policy-maker, said that despite these efforts, neither President Clinton nor Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ``has paid sustained attention to Colombia.''AP-NY-08-06-99 0352EDT  Associated Press. All rights reserved. War in Colombia: The U.S. Role - 8/05/99
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 06, 1999 at 12:39:39 PT:
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Leftist Colombian Rebels Showing Cooperation with U.N. Program to Reduce Drug Crops Copyright  1999 Nando MediaCopyright  1999 Associated PressBy MARGARITA MARTINEZ BOGOTA, ColombiaAugust 6, 1999 6:37 a.m. EDT - Leftist rebels making millions of dollars in the cocaine trade are cooperating with a $6 million U.N. project to wean peasants off illegal drug crops, a U.N. anti-narcotics official said. The announcement on Thursday contrasted with recent visits by U.S. officials, who revealed plans to beef up Colombia's military in hopes of forcibly eradicating illegal plantations in guerrilla-held regions. "The idea is to give more carrot, and not just the stick," Klaus Nyholm, director of the Colombia office of the U.N. Drug Control Program, said at a news conference. Colombia is the world's No. 1 source of cocaine, and its production of coca - the plant used to make it - has doubled since 1996. Gen. Charles Wilhelm, the top U.S. military commander in Latin America, on Wednesday toured a southern town where U.S. assistance is improving Colombia's capacity to attack drug traffickers and rebels on rivers. White House drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey visited a week ago, plugging a nearly $1 billion increase in U.S. anti-narcotics aid for the Andes, much of it for Colombia's police and military. Next Tuesday, the highest level U.S. diplomatic mission to visit Colombia in years will call on President Andres Pastrana to ask about his strategy for dealing with the leftist insurgency and a faltering war on drugs. Leading the mission will be Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador to El Salvador. While welcoming increased U.S. military aid, the Colombian president has urged a shift in anti-narcotics policy toward crop substitution, also known as "alternative development." Nyholm said the U.N. crop substitution project began a month ago inside a southern region controlled by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Since Pastrana pulled out all troops and soldiers from the region last year in order to spur peace talks, military officials say the area has become a haven for drug traffickers. Nyholm claimed "drug cultivation has not increased or decreased since the FARC took control." The rebel group admits that it finances its 35-year insurgency in part by taxing the illegal plantations. The U.N. program will provide credits or seeds to about 5,000 local farmers who subsist off illegal plots of coca and will include road-paving projects to improve the peasants' access to distant markets, Nyholm said. Poor farmers will be encouraged to graze cattle, or plant rubber trees or bananas under the project financed by the United Nations and the Colombian government.
Leftist Colombian Rebels Showing Cooperation with U.N. 
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