Anti-Drug Effort Stalls in Colombia 

Anti-Drug Effort Stalls in Colombia 
Posted by FoM on May 29, 2000 at 22:03:08 PT
By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post
U.S.-backed anti-drug programs in Colombia are running out of money and have effectively "ground to a halt" as Congress delays emergency funding for military training and other activities, senior Clinton administration officials say.Anticipating that Congress would quickly pass a $1.3 billion supplemental appropriation requested on an emergency basis in January, the administration began expanding the anti-drug effort early this year and stepped up spending. 
But the funding package has been held up in the Senate for months and now appears unlikely to move forward until at least midsummer.In the meantime, according to officials seeking to emphasize the urgency of the problem, leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary forces involved in the drug trade have stepped up deployment and strengthened their defenses in the main regions where coca, the basic ingredient of cocaine, is grown. Instead of leveling off, as the administration had hoped, production of cocaine is likely to increase this year.Among the results of the funding shortfall cited by officials:Fumigation flights against coca, a centerpiece of the anti-drug effort, have been scaled back or stopped in many key areas. Officials estimate that Colombia supplies more than 80 percent of the U.S. cocaine market. Aerial fumigation of opium poppies, the raw material of heroin, has been stopped.A special Colombian army anti-drug battalion, trained at U.S. expense last year, has yet to undertake its first mission, because the helicopters it is supposed to use are not available.A second 1,000-man battalion  recruited, vetted for human rights violations and moved two months ago to a training base in southern Colombia  is "doing jumping jacks" while waiting for U.S. Army Special Forces trainers, for whom no funding has been approved, said one official."Things are worsening," said another official. "They are not static. Every week we are losing ground."These descriptions of a situation spinning out of control marks a new tack for administration officials. While warning that conditions were grave, they previously have reassured Congress that their proposed remedy would begin to turn the tide in Colombia and, some years from now, stem the flood of drugs into the United States. That was enough to sail the emergency $1.3 billion supplemental appropriation through the House of Representatives in March and send it to the Senate.But some senators remain opposed to the package, holding that the Colombian military should be ineligible for aid because of human rights abuses, that the plan itself is poorly conceived and risks U.S. involvement in a guerrilla war, or that anti-drug money is better spent on prevention efforts at home."Of course we are concerned, but that does not mean that if the aid had been approved things would be better," said Tim Rieser, an aide to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), one of the leading opponents of the measure. "The administration has yet to say what they expect to achieve, in what period of time, at what cost, and at what risk to hundreds of American advisers there."But "if the Republican leadership wanted to get the aid passed," Rieser said, "they could do it." Aid opponents agree that the votes are there to pass it.All sides blame the delay on Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who took the lead last year in urging the administration to deal expeditiously with Colombia and who repeated last week, "I'm for the president's proposal with regard to the Colombian drug war." But Lott's refusal to consider the aid an emergency measure and his insistence on attaching it to the regular foreign operations bill  which has become bogged down in an unrelated Senate fight  doomed it. Even if the bill passes this summer, Colombia may not see a dime before the end of the year.Administration officials now appear to see little potential advantage in putting an optimistic face on the situation. Their predictions, made in a series of interviews last week, seem both a calculated effort to ratchet up the pressure on the Senate and a depressing assessment of reality.Officials acknowledge that the administration may have inadvertently contributed to the growing difficulties in Colombia.When it first asked Congress to approve the emergency funding in January  hoping for approval by spring  the administration described with great public fanfare the planned "push" by the new, U.S.-trained and equipped battalions into two southern Colombian provinces where coca cultivation is booming. The troops would retake the provinces from guerrilla forces, government infrastructure would be established and coca-growing peasants would be provided the wherewithal to grow legal crops, officials promised.Instead, while the government troops remain undeployed, guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have taken advantage of the warning and the delay by vastly increasing their armed presence in the area, according to the officials."They are digging in, planting mines and doing all kinds of nasty things making it more difficult for the government to occupy the country," said one official. Guerrilla forces provide armed protection for drug traffickers and tax their operations.At the same time, right-wing paramilitary groups, whose alleged ties to the Colombian army have contributed to congressional skepticism about the aid plan, have increased their presence in the southern provinces of Putumayo and Caqueta, contesting drug territory and profits with the guerrillas.Early this year, the administration took what one official called "a calculated risk" by stepping up the spending of money already appropriated for this fiscal year  close to $300 million  on the assumption that the "supplemental funds would be available by May or June." Now, to keep from completely running out of money, aerial coca fumigation has been curtailed."With the cost of pilots, fuel, spare parts and other stuff, we've cut back from $5 million to $2.5 million a month to make sure we can continue to the end of the [fiscal] year," the official said.Construction at two airfields for the counter-drug battalions is in abeyance, as is the upgrading of an Ecuadoran air force installation near the Colombian border that is to serve U.S. drug surveillance flights, officials said.The already trained, 1,000-troop battalion spends its time patrolling on the ground just outside the perimeter of Tres Esquinas, its main base in southern Colombia, officials said. Eighteen U.S.-supplied UH-1N helicopters that were supposed to provide air mobility until a new fleet of U.S.-provided Black Hawk helicopters was in place are largely unavailable, due to delays in pilot training and lack of mechanical support that officials say are a result of money problems.As for the other battalion, the second of what is designed to be a U.S.-trained, three-battalion force, "they're sitting on the ground, doing nothing" at a base at La Randia, about 300 miles south of the Colombian capital of Bogota, an official said. The funding for their training, he said, "is in the supplemental."By Karen DeYoungWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday , May 30, 2000 ; A01  2000 The Washington Post Company Related Articles:Colombia Anti-Drug Spraying Begins War and Colombia Deny and Escalate Rank for Human Rights Drug Control or Bio Warfare? And The Drug War - Arianna Huffington 
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Comment #5 posted by CongressmanSuet on May 30, 2000 at 19:41:00 PT:
I have to agree dddd. I like to think that we are winning, I need to believe we have a chance at making a difference, but every now and then I have "a moment of clarity, as alcoholics describe it"[sorry, quote from Pulp Fiction]and I start to get real negative. Here is where I need to be reminded about whats going on in other countries. And start making my relocation plans...
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Comment #4 posted by dddd on May 30, 2000 at 09:54:09 PT
Right on CD1
CD1s' noble call to action is one of the few options we have in trying to affect the outcome of this abominable,ridiculous ,and scandalous item.Everybody should do anything,and everything they possibly can.Dont let the next paragraph discourage you from keepin' on keepin' on. I hate to say it,but I got a feeling that all the calls,and emails many of us have sent trying to influence this,and numerous other ludicrous laws,is somewhat like trying to block a freight train,with a VW bug.The engineer is awakened by a slight crunching sound,and by the time he looks out the window to see if he hit something,and checks to see if the train has been slowed down,,he scratches his head,and goes on down the tracks. We are trying to slow down a battleship in our rowboats. These absurd chunks of extensive,and incomprehendible legistlation,are far beyond what meets the publics eye,and they are controlled by well masked,shadowy influences. This jaggernaut will only make a mild thump,as it crushes all those who disagree. I think Professor Nemo is quite right when he talks about the,'American casualty/"tripwire"',ploy to create the false justification.They are going to have to spin and twist this with some of their best schemes,and media manipulation ever. Once they get a supposed "reasonable"version of this unstoppable thing passed,(of course they will report that all the "bad" things were taken out),..You will then see very few negative reports,and minimal critisms in the national media. When you consider the "pre-emptive strike",that the czarski launched against the recent Hersh article that suggested a war crimes,,,,then you know that the mainstream media is basically a puppet of the regime. But all this is not to say that thousands of VW bugs,and a fleet of rowboats,wont make a difference..........Never give up!............peace.....dddd
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Comment #3 posted by CD1 on May 30, 2000 at 08:29:42 PT
Now is the time to let your congressmen know that you do not want your tax dollars spent on this. Educate your friends and family. Show them what the McCaffrey and the DEA is trying to pull on you. The reason so many congressmen support this kind of legislation is they are afraid of being labeled "soft on drugs", and therefore "soft on crime." It is time to let them know that their are many VOTERS that oppose the war on drugs, especially when tax dollars are going to finance corrupt governments and coca fumigation, which could cause irrepairable damage to the environment. 
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on May 30, 2000 at 07:02:55 PT:
The bum's - er - 'citizens' rush
4d Makes a very good point here. This Administration's rush to involvement is being treated as a forgone conclusion. It is anything but. I seriously doubt that Congress is having second thoughts on sending money based purely on such laudable reasons of concern for human rights abuses. It is more likely they are doing it just to frustrate Slick Willy's Administration out of sheer spite than anything else. But you may notice something interesting, going on here: usually, when we have something in the wind (Panama and Grenada, and the Gulf) there is a big wind up starting with the talking heads on the tube debating the rightness or wrongness of invading a foreign country. These are quickly supplemented with all manner of 'experts' yacking away on the feasability of it. Then an incident occurs which gives the US the 'right' to intervene (Such as US service personnel being deliberately put in harm's way, to act as a 'tripwire', so that when the indigs finally take a shot at them or bomb them, we have all the excuse we need.) Things usually snowball from there on. But this isn't quite the usual pattern we normally see. Maybe because too many Americans don't think it's worth their soldiers lives to cut down a field of poppy flowers or coca bushes. I am hoping that such sensibilities prevail. And that, this time, John Q. Public resists the usual bum's rush applied to them from their supposed servants in the Congress and Senate.Because, if it does, we may yet see even more people coming to our way of thinking. For too many years, the antis have had a de facto advantage due to them having unlimited funds and round-the-clock access to Congress to spout their bilge unchallenged. But *if hearings on the actual necessity of Colombian involvement come about, we may get a chance to tell our side of the story, for once*. And the antis know that any chalenge to their 'authority' will mean unwelcome scrutiny cast upon their whole raison d'etre. Scrutiny they have assiduously avoided, to the point of refusing to debate us publicly, in any forum, in any media.Because, as the old saying goes, if you pull this 'thread', you might wind up holding a snake. Who knows where such hearings will lead...or what they might find out. The antis are well aware of the dangers inherent in such investigatory hearings. Particularly to their covert ops and agendas. This may well prove to be a pivotal summer, in many ways. Keep an eye on this, as it is bound to prove interesting. 
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on May 30, 2000 at 02:39:00 PT
Mild propaganda
 Here's another example of a cheesy Wash. Post article,crawling with fabricated,anecdotal heresay.It pretends to give a balanced view from both sides.The best way to elude the reader into thinking this is unbiased reporting of the "facts",is to make it seem to represent both sides..After reading it,the average person is left with a sense that in fact we have a job to do in Colombia,,as if it was a already agreed upon fact,that we need to be doing things like raining poisin,eradicating the "entrenched"rebels,,and on and on. I am not positive that this particular writer is responsible for all this,most likely it was adjusted by the editors.There are hundreds of articles like this published every day. One of the most alarming aspects of our blossoming, covert, neo-natzi factions in our government,is the fact that they have near absolute control of all major sources of news,and unbeknownst to the public,they are spending our money,to hire experts to manipulate public opinion,and toss out completely unfounded bogus rhetoric.This crap has a major impact on the publics perception,and when you think about the fact that this is being done by an agency with Billions of dollars to experiment with,and it is run by a borderline psycotic who has been given the title of "czar",,,,,It makes my skin crawl home to Mom....dddd
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