DrugSense FOCUS Alert #190 November 18, 2000

DrugSense FOCUS Alert #190 November 18, 2000
Posted by FoM on November 18, 2000 at 15:34:02 PT
NYT: Even Supporters See Disaster in Plan Colombia
Source: MapInc.
The plan to send $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid to Colombia, allegedly to assist the war on drugs, can only make the violence in Colombia worse. Now, even a legislator who pushed to advance Plan Colombia has realized that it is a disaster in the making. As the New York Times reported this week, U.S. Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman has flip-flopped on his enthusiasm for Plan Colombia. Gilman still doesn't seem to understand that the problems aren't just in the details, but in the overall concept of fighting the war on drugs. 
However, it is important to recognize another voice speaking out against the military aid.Please write a letter to the New York Times or other newspapers where the story has appeared to note that even fervent drug warriors know Plan Colombia will create more problems while solving nothing. WRITE A LETTER - MAKE THINGS BETTER!! It's not what others do it's what YOU do  PLEASE SEND US A COPY OF YOUR LETTER OR TELL US WHAT YOU DID (Letter, Phone, Fax etc.) Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent letter list sentlte if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to: MGreer Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is one important way we have of gauging our impact and effectiveness. CONTACT INFO: Source: New York Times (NY) Contact: letters EXTRA CREDIT: The Miami Herald also ran a story on this subject. Please send your letter to the Herald also. Title: US: Key Lawmaker Drops Support For Aid To Colombian Armed URL: Miami Herald (FL) Contact: heralded EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT: The Chicago Tribune also had a good editorial about this subject, noting "It's time to think not just about switching this money from one Colombian pocket to another. It's time to rethink the whole thing." Please check out the whole editorial and send a letter to the Tribune too. Title: US IL: OPED: Second Thoughts On Colombia URL: Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Contact: ctc-TribLetter ARTICLE US: Key House Leader Withdraws Support For Colombia Aid Plan URL: Newshawk: Amanda Pubdate: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 Source: New York Times (NY) Copyright: 2000 The New York Times Company Contact: letters Address: 229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036 Fax: (212) 556-3622 Website: Forum: Author: Christopher Marquis with Juan Forero Bookmark: Reports from Colombia: KEY HOUSE LEADER WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FOR COLOMBIA AID PLAN WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 -- Representative Benjamin A. Gilman, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, has abruptly withdrawn his support from the decision to funnel $1.3 billion in mostly military aid to Colombia, arguing that the United States is on the brink of a "major mistake." Mr. Gilman, Republican of New York, sent a letter this week to the White House drug policy coordinator, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, contending that the American plan to increase the role of the Colombian military in the drug fight will end disastrously, because the military has undermined its political support after a history of corruption and human rights abuses. That position echoes other critics of the plan. Mr. Gilman called on the Clinton administration to redirect its assistance, including at least 40 Black Hawk helicopters, from the military to the national police in Colombia. Mr. Gilman has long admired the police, which he views as more effective and less tainted by human rights violations. "If we fail early on with Plan Colombia, as I fear, we could lose the support of the American people for our efforts to fight illicit narcotics abroad," Mr. Gilman said. "If we lose public support, we will regret we did not make the mid-course corrections for Colombia that I have outlined here." Last summer, Mr. Gilman voted to support Plan Colombia, a $7.5 billion strategy drafted jointly by American and Colombian officials and passed by Congress. In addition to the military spending, the program allocates money to promote alternative crops, economic renewal and human rights. The plan seeks to halve drug production over five years in Colombia, reportedly the source of most of the cocaine and heroin that enters the United States. Congressional sources said Mr. Gilman was troubled by recent military failures in rural areas where rebel forces operate. It is unclear what effects, if any, Mr. Gilman's shift will have. A Senate Republican aide who follows Colombia closely said it was "far too early" to criticize the plan. Mr. Gilman is expected to relinquish his chairmanship next year because of term limits. Critics of the plan have argued that the military aid would merely intensify the conflict in which two rebel groups have joined forces with narcotics traffickers against the government, a conflict that could eventually draw the United States directly into fighting the rebels. Leaders of Colombia's neighbors also have expressed fears that the fighting will spill into their countries. Washington counters that Colombia's increasingly jumbled battle lines make it necessary to equip and deploy the military in the fight against drugs. The American plan calls for training three counternarcotics battalions, with a total of up to 3,000 troops. The administration also has promised to watch over the military's record on human rights. A spokesman for General McCaffrey, Robert Weiner, said today that denying aid to the military on the basis of its past performance would ensure defeat. "Granted they're not a superpower," Mr. Weiner said. "One of the major purposes of the Plan Colombia is to provide the military with the resources they need. This actually scares the cartels to death." In southern Putumayo Province, where half of the coca in Colombia is grown, rebels have sealed off roads, arguing that the military has to rein in right-wing gunmen who are associated with the armed forces. A botched operation in a northern town, Dabeiba, resulted last month in the downing of one of the army's seven American-made Black Hawks and the deaths of 22 troops. The helicopter had been carrying reinforcements to assist soldiers locked in a firefight with rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. But sloppy communications led the pilot to land in a rebel-controlled area, an American official said. The rebels "were waiting for them," the official said. "What kind of intelligence is that? They were dug in like the Ho Chi Minh Trail." A high-ranking official in President Andres Pastrana's government defended the military involvement on the grounds that the drug war has fundamentally changed in the last five years. "It used to be an urban drug war, which the police were very capable of handling," the official said. "It has now become a drug war fought in the jungles, and you can't do that without military support." Another official said, "The fact that there are voices that are against these tactics doesn't mean that the strategy is going to change." SAMPLE LETTER To the editor: It has long been clear that Plan Colombia will neither stop drugs from reaching Americans nor stabilize Colombia. But, new objections from Rep. Ben Gilman, formerly one of the plan's strongest supporters, show how awful the plan truly is. Gilman may only have problems with the details, but as history shows, the whole concept of fighting drugs with force is always a failure. The outcome of Plan Colombia can only be more violence and increasing involvement by the U.S. in the affairs of South America. Stephen Young IMPORTANT: Always include your address and telephone number Please note: If you choose to use this letter as a model please modify it at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work. ADDITIONAL INFO to help you in your letter writing efforts 3 Tips for Letter Writers: Letter Writers Style Guide:  TO SUBSCRIBE, DONATE, VOLUNTEER TO HELP, OR UPDATE YOUR EMAIL SEE: TO UNSUBSCRIBE SEE:  Prepared by Stephen Young Focus Alert Specialist Focus Alert Archives: Related Articles: Second Thoughts On Colombia House Leader Withdraws Support for Colombia MapInc. Archives:
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