Colombia Fights Drugs, Rebels

 Colombia Fights Drugs, Rebels
Posted by FoM on August 12, 1999 at 16:27:31 PT
U.S. Drug Czar Wants $1 Billion For War 
Source: CBS News
(CBS) Several things have happened in recent weeks to put Colombia on Washington's radar screen, reports CBS News Anchor Dan Rather.
First, the crash of a U.S. Army reconnaissance plane that killed five Americans on an anti-drug mission last month. Next, the arrival of the Clinton administration's drug czar Barry McCaffrey, who called for up to a billion dollars to be spent fighting what he calls narco-guerrillas. Colombia is the world's top cocaine producer and home to the longest-running civil conflict in the Western Hemisphere. Half the country is controlled by armed groups and heroin and cocaine output is up sharply, producing profits that drug traffickers share with leftist guerrillas, McCaffrey said. "There's been a doubling of coca production here in Colombia in the last three years," says McCaffrey, "a massive threat not only to Colombian interest but to the United States." The highest-level talks in Bogota in a decade are being held this week between U.S. and Colombian officials. That reflects some confidence in the new Colombian government, but also alarm over the fact that 40 percent of the country is already in rebel hands. That's one reason McCaffrey is now saying there's a crisis in Colombia and one that could spread to surrounding countries like Equador, Peru, Brazil, and perhaps even Venezuela and Panama. Colombia's mounting social chaos has become a regional problem requiring the "political involvement'' of other nations, says McCaffrey. McCaffrey said allies could help wean Colombia from drug profits and improve the country's institutions, including its criminal justice system, but military assistance would be limited. "When it comes down to actually confronting the (guerrillas) and the paramilitaries, that's Colombia's job. That's got to be their police, their prosecutors, their laws, their armed forces -- that's not our effort,'' he said. "We can support them with resources, training, equipment, intelligence. ... We're clearly trying to support them with drug-related intelligence,'' McCaffrey said. The United States spends $289 million annually to fight drugs in Colombia, but McCaffrey has proposed raising U.S. aid to $1 billion next year. Thursday, August 12,1999 - 04:43 PM ET Copyright 1999 CBS Worldwide Inc. Narco-Guerrilla War - 8/06/99
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Comment #2 posted by Camila on March 02, 2001 at 01:09:24 PT:
A smile
I would just like to compliment Stephen Heath for his message about the Colombian drug problem. For too long the US has looked to Colombia or Latin America with a frown and made them try to curb their supply of drugs. Of course no market can survive with only supply, there is a strong and meaningful demand that drives the industry as well, and by tacking both supply and demand perhaps we will gain ground, but also the means of controlling the demand is questionable, as Stephen outlines. There needs to be an end to the violence and corruption.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 16, 1999 at 10:28:49 PT:
Ending The Fighting
Pubdate: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX) Copyright: 1999 Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas Contact: letters Website: Forum: Author: Stephen Heath Nice job on the August 1st editorial "Drug War." Your observations on the many problems associated with military intervention in the Colombian cocaine trade are much-needed. Perhaps because drug czar Barry McCaffrey is a military man and not an economist, he has failed to conclude that the quickest way to end the corruption and in-country fighting in Colombia would be for the United States to end its own War on Drugs. McCaffrey's own office cites that the number of cocaine abusers in our country is less than 5 million citizens. As a recovering addict myself (clean for four years), I can tell you that the vast majority of abusers would like to get help and quit, but they fear exposure to law enforcement. We need to stop arresting these citizens and help them medically. By removing cocaine and all illicit substances from the black market, prices and resultant profits will plunge. Suppliers will no longer be motivated to traffic at long distances with violent and dangerous support systems. Let's save our money for here at home in helping and treating our own citizens who have made the foolish error of getting hooked on abusive drugs, rather than arming yet another country with weapons of violence and destruction. Stephen Heath Largo, Fla.
Ending The Fighting
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