TITLE=COLOMBIA DRUGS (L-ONLY)
INTRO: High ranking Colombian defense officials are
wrapping up a visit to Washington, urging U-S leaders
to increase aid to help the South American country
fight drug trafficking. Lawmakers are considering
pledging up to one-and-a-half-billion dollars over the
next three years. Colombian officials say they need
the help as soon as possible because the production of
coca - the plant from which cocaine is made - is on
the rise in rebel territories. V-O-A's Jon Tkach
TEXT: Colombia's defense minister, Luis Fernando
Ramirez, says his country now faces a different kind
of drug war.
Colombian drug traders, he says, are keeping a lower
profile - operating out of the jungle in areas often
controlled by rebel forces. Minister Ramirez says
Colombia needs, and deserves, extensive international
help. He wants three-and-a-half-billion dollars in
aid - and more than a third of that from the United
U-S lawmakers have been debating what the United
States' role should be. Reports from the State
Department and independent organizations have cited
extensive human rights abuses by Colombia's army.
Also, many lawmakers worry that U-S aid could go to
fighting the government's war against insurgents.
Mr. Ramirez says his country's forces have improved
significantly in the area of human rights. But, he
says, leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary
groups often get in the way of the war on drugs.
/// RAMIREZ ACT ///
Our goal is to fight narco-traffickers and we
will need to fight others with different names
if they are in the middle of this business of
/// END ACT ///
Adam Isacson of the Washington-based Center for
International Policy says his group is opposed to
current plans for assistance.
He says Colombia's security forces have yet to truly
reform and that Washington's response is overly
focused on beefing up Columbia militarily.
/// ISACSON ACT ///
And there is a peace process and the guerrillas
have gone on record saying they want peace and
this new infusion of aid may kill that.
/// END ACT ///
The Colombian delegation is searching for help with a
seven-and-a-half billion dollar, three year plan they
say will combat the drug trade and move along the
country's flagging peace process.
08-Oct-1999 15:59 PM EDT (08-Oct-1999 1959 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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