Colombia Expects Protests Over Drugs

Colombia Expects Protests Over Drugs
Posted by FoM on February 05, 2000 at 08:13:40 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: Deseret News
The government is bracing from protests when U.S.-trained troops push into a southern region this year to wipe out Colombia's largest concentration of cocaine-producing plants, the defense minister said Friday."It's predictable that there's going to be violence and marches," the official, Luis Fernando Ramirez, told U.S. reporters during a trip highlighting drug eradication efforts.
Spearheaded by a new 950-man narcotics battalion, the government intends to move shortly into Putumayo State, where authorities estimate about a third of Colombia's coca crop is grown.Although U.S. officials don't expect to release 1999 figures until later this month, they say Colombia's illicit coca crop increased dramatically over the past year.One reason is the increasing involvement of leftist rebels who tax and regulate the drug trade in their vast areas of control. Guerrillas regularly fire on herbicide-spraying planes in defense of peasants' coca plots and fields of heroin-producing opium poppies.On Friday, Ramirez and police director Gen. Rosso Jose Serrano proudly displayed three new Blackhawk helicopters donated by Washington to help eradication efforts. Colombia supplies 80 percent of the world's cocaine and is a growing heroin producer.They flew journalists to an opium plot in a steep Andean valley near this southwestern city, depositing the reporters on a 7,500-foot hillside.As heavily armed police commandos scanned ridges for rebels, a TurboThrush crop-duster dive-bombed the plot with the herbicide glyphosate.Congress is expected to debate this month a proposed $1.6 billion aid package for Colombia that would pay for two more battalions, dozens of attack helicopters and funds for weaning peasants off illegal crops.President Andres Pastrana's government cannot proceed, he said, without a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the tens of thousands of peasants living in the state who depend on coca income to feed their families.Without providing alternatives, the potential exists for unrest far worse than 1996 riots by tens of thousands coca growers in adjacent Caqueta State in which at least six people were killed protesting aerial eradication.The strategy for aggressive aerial fumigation of coca plots in Putumayo is expected to include alternative crop programs.Human rights and U.S. church groups insist that the U.S. aid package will fuel human rights abuses in the areas where the counterdrug battalions operate.Neiva, Colombia Published: February 5, 2000Copyright  2000, Deseret News Publishing Corp. Related Articles:U.S. Steps Up Drug War in Colombia Vows To Get More Anti-Drug Aid to Colombia
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 05, 2000 at 16:22:43 PT:
I Agree kaptinemo
kaptinemo,You say good things and yes it seems like deja vu all over again. My husband did two tours in Vietnam and he agrees. If we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it and this is too close for me.Peace, FoM!PS: Have you thought of registering your name so no one else can try to use it? If so here is where you can, if not that's fine. If you do and there are any problems please let me know because otherwise I won't have any idea.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on February 05, 2000 at 14:26:26 PT
This is how it starts
In the Vietnam War, our military was at first, 'just trainers'. They weren't supposed to accompany, let alone lead, the indigs in combat patrols. But bit by bit, they were drawn in, until finally it was largely an American show. And we all know what happened. This is called 'mission creep'. For a more recent version, look at Somalia.And now we have Colombia. Anybody else here suffering from deja vu? I'll say it again: there's not a single square inch of Colombia worth a single US soldier's life. If you don't tell your Congresspeople and Senators that, then you can expect the aluminum coffins bearing what's left of our boys to start piling up at Dover AFB sometime this year. Do you really want that? Do you?
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