Billion Dollar Anti-Drug Aid Sought for Colombia 

Billion Dollar Anti-Drug Aid Sought for Colombia 
Posted by FoM on October 09, 1999 at 13:40:17 PT
By Douglas Farah
Source: Newsweek
The Clinton administration and Congress, fearing the growing power of Marxist-led guerrillas financed by the drug trade, are near agreement on a three-year military aid package for Colombia that will total more than $1 billion, according to officials.
Colombia produces 80 percent of the world's cocaine and about two-thirds of the heroin consumed in the United States. In recent years, both the guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary bands have engaged in the drug trade, earning tens of millions of dollars and gaining control of more than half of the country's territory.Colombian and U.S. officials stressed that the U.S. aid would be aimed at fighting drug trafficking, not at "counterinsurgency" operations against the guerrillas. But officials acknowledge that, in many areas of Colombia, the distinction is so blurred as to be meaningless.Undersecretary of State Thomas R. Pickering, who is coordinating the administration's policy toward Colombia, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday that aid is essential because "Colombia's national sovereignty is increasingly threatened by well-armed and ruthless guerrillas, paramilitaries and narco-trafficking interests, which are inextricably linked."A Colombian delegation led by Defense Minister Luis Ramirez has spent the past three days lobbying the White House, Capitol Hill and the Pentagon for more aid.Gen. Fernando Tapias, commander of the Colombian military, told reporters yesterday that he is requesting an upgraded helicopter fleet to transport counterdrug battalions being trained by U.S. Special Forces; intelligence training and equipment; improved communications technology; and money to upgrade the Colombian air force's aging fleet of A-37 jets so it can pursue a new strategy of shooting down airplanes suspected of carrying drugs and that defy orders to land.Barry R. McCaffrey, the Clinton administration's drug control policy director, told the Foreign Relations Committee that the president's final proposal would "range between a billion and two billion plus" dollars.Republican leaders, who have often accused the administration of ignoring Colombia, struck a conciliatory note and presented their own plan for $1.5 billion in aid. The Republican plan was written by Sens. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio).Both sides said they would have final bills to present to Congress before adjournment this year."There is obviously common ground upon which we can work with the administration," Coverdell said.All of the figures being proposed would represent a sharp increase in U.S. military aid to Colombia, which totaled $289 million in fiscal 1999, making Bogota the third-largest recipient of U.S. military aid, after Israel and Egypt.Human rights groups warned against deepening U.S. ties to a military that is linked to human rights abuses and violent paramilitary organizations. "An aid package that does not meaningfully address the paramilitary question is a failed package," said Carlos Salinas of Amnesty International USA.The GOP and administration proposals would sharply upgrade the Colombian military's firepower and involvement in the counterdrug effort. Among the points of agreement are U.S. training and equipment for three elite, 1,000-man army battalions, which will try to retake vast areas of the country under guerrilla control, where the cultivation of coca--the raw material for cocaine--is rising rapidly. The first battalion would be operational by the end of the year, and two more would be trained next year.The first battalion is to receive 18 aging UH-1N helicopters, and the Republican plan would provide funds to upgrade the fleet with 15 Blackhawk helicopters. Both plans would provide assistance in intelligence gathering and would boost aid to the Colombian air force as it pursues its shoot-down policy."This crisis is not overstated," Coverdell said. "The situation in Colombia is indeed dismal and is reaching emergency proportions. I firmly believe U.S. assistance is needed, and needed now, to address the situation." By Douglas FarahWashington Post Staff WriterSaturday, October 9, 1999; Page A2  1999 The Washington Post Company The Narco-Guerrilla War - 8/06/99 Worries Colombia Could Become Another Vietnam - 8/06/99 
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on October 11, 1999 at 15:38:15 PT
SSSHHHHH! Scott don't give these morons any ideas!
They are already lying through their teeth about Holland having a muder rate per capita as being twice ours (It's half). Or lying about the supposed failure of their 'soft-drug' approach. (I was there in 96, and the only thing I witnessed that needed police attention was a fight between two drunks...right outside The Sensi Cafe. The tokers just sat there, shaking their heads, and continued peacably enjoying their weed and the good company.)But these dimbulbs have no sense of right and wrong, only political expediency. If they go after sick people here, and invade sovereign nations to arrest foreign heads of state on a whim, then anything is possible with such goobers.
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Comment #3 posted by Scott on October 10, 1999 at 20:30:45 PT:
Oh Great...
How about after we piss away our tax payers money, we spend another 1.5 billion and bomb Amsterdam. Yeah, great idea!Scott
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Comment #2 posted by Jeaneous on October 10, 1999 at 12:40:27 PT:
Tax dollars
I have a real problem with our country becoming involved in the Columbia issue. First of all, it is not our business and second of all.. it's our tax money that is going to be sent there. I do not approve of my money going there and I'm sure many of your do not either.Write to your representatives and let them know that it is YOUR money and this is not something you would vote to do on your own. I doubt if they held a general vote on this issue that it would even begin to be supported.As in the post before, most citizens learned from Viet Nam that it is not our place to become involved. It also is not our place to decide what is best for other countries. All those billions they keep throwing around could do so many positive things in this country, yet Mr. McCaffrey's paranoina of being in control seems to be more important than taking care of our own.Would love to see that man lose his position. I pray to see that day. The man is dangerous.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on October 10, 1999 at 11:52:17 PT
Vietnam, anyone? How about a Beruit? Or have you 
had enough of this? Once again, the American people are being drawn, bit by bit, into someone else's quicksand. Once again, the Cold Warriors, afraid that their job security is being threatened, have trotted out the hoary old anti-Communist windbag machine, patched its' sagging bellows, and let off another test blatting of its' rusty pipes to see if anyone will still salute it. What a crock.I work in a public school system, patching up old dinosaurs of Apples that should have been retired a long time ago, so the kids can have something to learn on. Why? Because we don't have any money to spend on new ones.But we have money to burn when it's to pay overtime for drug suspect surveillance, Ninja-suits and machine guns for cops, prison construction... and McCaffrey's salary. Now they want those teenagers to give up more than their civil liberties for their precious War on (Some)Drugs; they want them to cheerfully throw themselves into someones civil war. Just like Vietnam. Just like Beirut.Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I am a vet, and have been shot at before in several of these dirty little wars we seem to stumble into... or is it aid and abett? The kids have better things to do with their lives than sacrifice them on the altar of someone's twisted idea of a moral crusade. And we have better things to do with our money than continue to feed this juggernaut called the War on Drugs.
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