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Homeland Security

Washington File

03 June 2003

U.S. Official Lauds Colombian Efforts to Combat Narco-Terrorism

(Simons says measures are succeeding, urges continued support) (5180)
Colombia is an important front in the war on terrorism, and the United
States supports the Colombian government's efforts to address the
threats posed by narcotics trafficking and drug-financed terrorist
groups, says Paul Simons, acting assistant secretary of state for
international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.
In a June 3 statement before the Senate Drug Caucus, Simons outlined
the situation in Colombia, the impact of the illegal drug trade on
both Colombia and the United States, and U.S. support of Colombian
efforts to combat narco-terrorism.
Simons described Colombia as "a vibrant democracy and a country with
extraordinary promise, facing an extraordinary threat." That threat,
he said, stems from the fact that Colombia is a center of the illicit
narcotics industry, and in recent years has been responsible for 70
percent of the world's coca cultivation, as well as a significant
source of heroin for the U.S. market. He noted that the illegal drug
trade has had a terrible impact on the United States, leading to
50,000 drug-related deaths yearly -- 19,000 of these directly
attributable to drugs. By way of comparison, drugs claim six times as
many lives each year in the United States as did the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001, Simons pointed out.
The narcotics industry also takes a terrible toll on Colombia,
providing resources for the nation's terrorist organizations that
attack democratic and civil institutions and claim the lives of more
than 3,000 persons annually, Simons indicated. He said the United
States stands in solidarity with the people of Colombia as they
confront the scourge of narco-terrorism.
"The narco-terrorist threat is among the greatest the United States
and Colombia face, and success against the drug trade and terrorism
will improve security in both countries, and [in] the Andean region as
a whole," he told lawmakers.
Simons applauded Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's "unwavering
commitment to countering the narco-terrorists" and described U.S.
support to reinforce, rather than substitute for, Colombia's efforts.
The United States has spent over $1.7 billion since 2000 to strengthen
democratic institutions, promote human rights and the rule of law,
foster socio-economic development, and end the threats to democracy
posed by narco-terrorism in Colombia, Simons said. Another $600
million in additional support is appropriated for FY 2003, he
observed.
To further its counter-drug objective of reducing illegal drug
production and trafficking in Colombia, the United States supports
eradication and interdiction programs. Simons estimated that the
United States will spend $284 million in 2003 to bolster the Colombian
military's eradication and interdiction initiatives, including a
counter-drug brigade and a renewed Air Bridge Denial Program.
Funding for alternative development, institution-building, and
programs that support the rule of law will receive an additional $149
million in 2003, Simons said.
The United States is already seeing a return on its investment in
Colombia, he added.
"This year, we have turned the corner on coca and opium poppy
cultivation," Simons said. He pointed out that the hectares dedicated
to coca cultivation in Colombia declined 15 percent in 2002, with
continued declines in early 2003. Similarly, opium poppy cultivation
in Colombia decreased 25 percent in 2003, he reported.
Simons also said that in addition to eradicating illegal crops,
U.S.-supported programs have helped strengthen Colombia's democratic
institutions, protected human rights, assisted those persons displaced
by violence, and fostered socio-economic development.
The State Department official cited the fact that over 22,000 families
have benefited from alternative development programs in Colombia, that
744,601 Colombians displaced by violence have received assistance, and
that Colombian justice-sector reforms are underway, as evidence of the
success of U.S.-supported programs in the Andean nation. He added that
the U.S. focus on human rights is also having an effect on Colombian
institutions.
If current programs are sustained, Simons said, then the goal of
reducing coca cultivation in Colombia by 50 percent by the end of 2006
should be achieved. This success would translate into a major
reduction in the amount of cocaine available in the United States, he
added.
However, if Colombia is to establish control over its national
territory, eliminate narcotics production and distribution, end
terrorism and promote human rights and the rule of law, Simons said, a
concerted Colombian strategy and effort -- reinforced by continued
U.S. assistance -- is needed.
To this end, Simons encouraged congressional leaders to support full
funding of the State Department's 2004 budget request for $731 million
for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI), $431 million of which
would be allocated for Colombia.
Beyond bolstering efforts in Colombia, Simons explained that ACI
programs in 2004 would ensure that progress in Colombia does not
reverse gains in Bolivia, Peru or elsewhere in the region.
Following is the text of Simon's remarks, as prepared for delivery:
(begin text)
PAUL E. SIMONS
ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE
INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AFFAIRS
HEARING BEFORE
SENATE DRUG CAUCUS
JUNE 3, 2003
U.S. NARCOTICS CONTROL INITIATIVES IN COLOMBIA
9:30 A.M.,
215 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Senator Biden, and members of the Caucus.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about the current
narcotics situation in Colombia, and the Department of State's
response to that situation. Because of the importance of our efforts
in Colombia, I am especially pleased to meet with this Caucus, which
is a key stake-holder in this process.
I. OVERVIEW
Situation in Colombia
Colombia is of great importance to the United States. It is a vibrant
democracy and a country with extraordinary promise, facing an
extraordinary threat. Colombia has four times the land area of
California and a population of over 40 million. Its gross domestic
product is more than $90 billion a year. Colombia has important
reserves of petroleum, natural gas and coal.
Unfortunately, Colombia is also a center of the illicit narcotics
industry. In recent years, Colombia has been responsible for over 70
percent of the world's coca cultivation. Ninety percent of the cocaine
entering the United States is either produced in or passes through
Colombia. Colombia is also a significant source of heroin for the U.S.
market.
The drug trade has a terrible impact on the United States. There are
50,000 drug-related deaths yearly in the United States -- with 19,000
directly attributable to drugs. This is six times the loss of life on
September 11, and it happens every year. The drug trade also has
devastating consequences in Colombia. Not only is that society rife
with drug-related violence, its unique eco-system and environment are
increasingly threatened by the slash-and-burn cutting of tropical
forest for coca cultivation and the indiscriminate dumping of toxic
chemicals used in drug processing.
Directly linked to the illicit drug trade is the scourge of terrorism
that plagues Colombia. Colombia is home to three of the four
U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) in this
hemisphere, and has suffered a four-decade cycle of violence and
conflict. Terrorism in Colombia both supports and draws resources from
the narcotics industry. Nefarious narco-terrorist organizations also
rely on kidnapping and extortion -- including threats to U.S. citizens
and economic interests -- to support themselves. Colombia's terrorist
groups have kidnapped 138 American citizens since 1980, and killed 11.
Since February, three DOD contractors have been held hostage by the
FARO and one of their colleagues was assassinated upon capture.
The country's 40-year-old internal conflict -- among government
forces, several leftist guerrilla groups, and a right-wing
paramilitary movement -- intensified during 2002. The internal armed
conflict, and the narcotics trafficking that both fueled it and
prospered from it, were the central causes of violations of
international humanitarian law. In a 2001 report, the U.N. High
Commissioner for Human Rights noted that all sides in the conflict
failed to respect the principles of humanitarian law. The
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the paramilitaries
are the principal perpetrators of these human rights violations. The
Colombian Army is charged with committing very few of the human rights
violations alleged in 2002.
Violence by the three FTOs -- the FARC, the National Liberation Army
(ELN), and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) -- caused
the deaths of thousands of civilians in 2002, including combat
casualties, political killings, and forced disappearances.
Kidnapping continues to be a major source of revenue for both the FARC
and ELN. The FARC continued to kidnap persons in accordance with its
so-called "Law 002," announced in March 2000, which requires persons
with more than the equivalent of $1 million in assets to volunteer
payments to the FARC or risk detention. The Free Country Foundation, a
Colombian NGO, reported that guerrillas committed 75 percent of the
2,986 kidnappings reported during the year in which a perpetrator was
identified. The Foundation reported that the FARC kidnapped 936
persons and the ELN 776. In addition, the FARO often purchased victims
kidnapped by common criminals and then negotiated ransom payments with
the families.
Additionally, the ongoing terrorist offensive against democratic
institutions and civil society has had tragic costs for Colombia. Each
year the AUC, ELN and FARC kill more than 3,000 persons. Their victims
have included judges and prosecutors, journalists, labor union leaders
and human rights workers, soldiers, police, and ordinary citizens.
Even clerics and Red Cross workers are not exempt from the violence.
The narco-terrorist threat is among the greatest the United States and
Colombia face, and success against the drug trade and terrorism in
Colombia will improve security in both countries, and in the Andean
region as a whole. The ongoing internal strife that Colombia has
suffered has hampered its economic progress, severely strained both
military and civil institutions, and wreaked havoc on the civilian
population who must live with the constant threat of terrorist
violence. It has also resulted in a flood of illicit drugs into the
United States.
What is occurring in Colombia matters to the United States. We stand
in solidarity with the people of Colombia who, like us, know
first-hand the scourge of terrorism. Although Afghanistan and Iraq
currently receive more public attention, our important partnership
with Colombia is yet another front in the war on terrorism, and
remains a priority of this Administration. With the support of the
U.S. Congress, the Administration has devoted considerable monetary
resources and personnel to this effort.
Commitment of President Uribe
The recent visit of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and President
Bush's renewed pledge to support him in his efforts against the
narco-terrorists, underscore the high value we place on our
relationship and the importance of this struggle.
Since taking office, President Uribe has demonstrated unwavering
commitment to countering the narco-terrorists. In spite of at least 15
assassination attempts, both before and after his election, he
continues to implement policies that will give Colombia back to
Colombians.
During his meetings in Washington April 30 to May 2, with the
Executive Branch and many members of this Caucus, President Uribe
emphasized his commitment to complete elimination of Colombia's coca
crops by the end of his term of office.
President Uribe is an avid supporter of aerial eradication and
alternative development programs. During his tenure, eradication
programs have reduced coca cultivation by more than 15 percent and
opium poppy production by 25 percent from 2001 levels. President Uribe
is working to strengthen the presence of the Colombian state and to
ensure the primacy of the rule of law and respect for human rights
throughout Colombian territory. He is also making the tough fiscal
decisions that will allow him to fund these policies and reforms. He
has increased government security expenditures for military and police
activities from 3.50 of GDP in 2001 to a goal of 5.80 of GDP by the
end of his term.
President Uribe's national security strategy includes commitments to
respect human rights, to dedicate more resources to the Colombian
Armed Forces, and to reform the conscription laws to make military
service universal and fairer. He is eager to ensure the effectiveness
of joint efforts with the United States government to achieve our
common goals in combating narcotics trafficking and terrorism, and has
proven an effective partner in the war on terrorism. Since the lifting
of the ban against extraditing nationals in December 1997, Colombia
has extradited more than 100 of its nationals charged with high-level
narcotics trafficking, drug-related money laundering, hostage taking,
and the murder of a retired New York City policeman. We have no better
extradition partner.
United States Policy Toward Colombia
Beyond the struggle against the narco-terrorists, there are broad and
important U.S. national interests in Colombia that include stability
in the Andean region, trade, immigration, human rights, humanitarian
assistance, and protection of the environment.
U.S. policy toward Colombia supports the Colombian government's
efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions, promote respect for
human rights and the rule of law, intensify counter-narcotics efforts,
foster socio-economic development, address immediate humanitarian
needs, and end the threats to democracy posed by narcotics trafficking
and terrorism. Our support reinforces, but does not substitute for,
the broader efforts of Colombian government and society.
In implementing these programs, the Administration and Congress
increasingly came to understand that the terrorist and narcotics
problems in Colombia are intertwined and must be dealt with as a
whole. Working with Congress, the Administration sought and Congress
enacted new authorities in the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act
(P.L. 107-206) that would help address this combined threat. These
provisions were renewed in the FY 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Act
(P.L. 108-7).
Since 2000, the United States has provided Colombia with over $1.7
billion in economic, humanitarian and security assistance to support
these efforts, with another $600 million appropriated for FY 2003.
The U.S. counter-drug objective in Colombia is to reduce illegal drug
production and trafficking. We use both eradication and interdiction
programs in this effort. Through programs to eradicate coca leaf and
opium poppy and to interdict their movement and that of precursor
supplies, cash or final products, we expect to reduce the amount of
cocaine and heroin entering the United States. Maintaining effective
demand reduction programs will also be key.
Additional pressure can be brought against the illegal drug industry
by more effectively controlling transportation corridors across the
Andes that are used to import chemicals, supplies and cash into the
growing areas, or to move illegal drug products out. If the
drug-producing areas are isolated from markets and necessary supplies,
the costs and risks of moving narcotics products will increase.
Interdiction of cocaine and heroin at sea and in the air is another
important element of drug-market disruption. With U.S. assistance,
technology, intelligence support, and law-enforcement training, the
Government of Colombia should be able to increase pressure on drug
warehousing sites and go-fast boat movements, and increase seizures of
cocaine and heroin.
Importantly, as a result of the ongoing Colombian criminal justice
reform, including United States training of specialized task force
units as well as prosecutors and police, and the bilateral cases
developed with U.S. law enforcement, more and more seizures and
arrests are leading to convictions and dismantling of narco-terrorist
organizations.
II. FY 2003 BUDGET
In 2003, Congress funded $700 million of a requested $731 million for
the Andean Counterdrug Initiative account. Of that amount, more than
$433 million will go to Colombia, with $284 million for
eradication/interdiction support and $149.2 million for alternative
development, support for the rule of law, and institution building.
Programs include the following:
The $284 million for eradication/interdiction will go towards support
for the Colombian military (pending the Secretary of State's
certification that the conditions in section 564(3) of the FY 2003
Foreign Operations Appropriations, Act (P.L. 108-7) have been met),
including its Army Counter Drug Brigade (CD BDE) and Army Aviation.
These funds will also support a renewed Air Bridge Denial Program
(after necessary legal steps and inter-agency coordination are
completed), coastal interdiction and continued support for the
Colombian National Police, to include aviation support and eradication
and interdiction programs.
Funding for alternative development and institution-building ($149.2
million) will fund programs which support the rule of law, such as the
DOJ-supported specialized task force units on Human Rights,
Anti-Corruption, Money Laundering/Asset Forfeiture and Narcotics,
criminal code reform, judicial and witness protection programs and
prosecutorial and police training; bomb squad; human rights reform and
drug awareness and demand-reduction projects; and the GOC "carabinero"
program which will establish permanent police stations and begin rural
patrols in areas that have no government presence and are under
virtual control of drug-trafficking and insurgent organizations.
Funding is also targeted for USAID's "Support for Democracy" and
alternative development projects, and USAID and PRM programs to
support vulnerable groups and internally displaced persons.
In addition, Congress appropriated $34 million to the Andean
Counterdrug Initiative (ACI) in the FY 2003 Emergency Wartime
Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-11) for Colombia, and the
Administration is allocating an additional $37 million in FMF funding
from the Supplemental. These funds will go towards presidential
security; bomb-squad support; increasing police presence in remote
areas; support for internally displaced persons; and aerial
eradication programs.
In FY 2003, $93 million in regular FMF funding will support the
infrastructure security program for the area of the Cano-Limon
pipeline and stop terrorist attacks on this important source of
revenue for Colombia. It will improve the professionalism, technical
competence and human rights performance of the Colombian Armed Forces
through a variety of military educational training courses.
III. RETURNS ON INVESTMENT
Our years of effort, and the money that we have invested in Colombia,
are beginning to pay off. This year, we have turned the corner on coca
and opium poppy cultivation. Nationwide coca hectarage was down by
more than 15 percent in 2002 to 144,000 hectares, with additional
declines in the first quarter of 2003. Key southern coca cultivation
(Putumayo/Caqueta) declined by over 50 percent (82,300 to 40,550
hectares) in 2002. In the first five months of 2003, we sprayed
approximately 64,000 hectares of coca, well on our way to meeting our
goal of spraying all remaining coca this calendar year. Opium poppy
cultivation has likewise decreased, with a 25-percent decline in 2002.
The CNC estimates that there are currently 4,900 hectares yearly
(2,450 hectares counted twice to account for two distinct crops) of
opium poppy remaining. Our aim is to spray opium poppy three times
during calendar-year 2003. Through May, we have sprayed approximately
1,650 hectares of opium poppy, well on our way to meeting our target
of spraying all remaining opium poppy in 2003.
At the same time, we have strengthened our commitment to pursuing an
environmentally sound aerial eradication program. In September 2002,
the Department switched to a more benign glyphosate formulation -- one
with decreased risk of eye irritation compared to the former mixture.
We have evaluated the toxicity of the spray mixture and have also
increased environmental training for our spray pilots, conducted
toxicological reviews or medical investigations of each health concern
brought to the attention of the Embassy, trained Colombian specialists
who now conduct soil and water analysis, and coordinated with the OAS
in its long-term monitoring of the spray program.
Beyond the achievements in eradication, U.S. programs have helped
strengthen democratic institutions, protect human rights, assist
internally displaced persons, and foster socio-economic development.
Specifically, we have succeeded in the following areas:
-- deployment of Colombia's first Counternarcotics Brigade which has
moved aggressively against drug labs and other illegal facilities and
has expanded its interdiction efforts beyond southern Colombia;
-- support for the police Anti-Narcotics Directorate (DIRAN) which
destroyed 61 HC1 labs and 401 coca-base labs in 2002, and seized
thousands of kilos of cocaine;
-- support for police presence in rural areas, which has increased
significantly with the addition of permanent police units to 79
municipalities that previously had no police presence;
-- over 22,000 families have benefited from the alternative
development program;
-- 24,549 hectares of licit crops are being supported;
-- 16,673 hectares of illicit crops have been manually eradicated by
alternative development communities;
-- 31 Justice and Coexistence Centers have been opened; these provide
cost-effective legal services to Colombians who have previously not
enjoyed access to the country's judicial system; over 1:6 million
cases have been handled by the centers;
-- USAID programs have provided protection to 2,731 human rights
activists, journalists and union leaders;
-- USAID has provided assistance to 774,601 Colombians displaced by
violence;
-- USAID is funding a program to rehabilitate former child soldiers,
including those captured by the army or those who have deserted from
the illegal armed groups. Some 733 children have received treatment,
education and shelter;
-- an Early Warning System (EWS) is helping Colombia avert massacres
and violations of international humanitarian law; to date, over 194
warnings have identified threats to communities across Colombia, and
have resulted in 154 responses by the military, police and/or relief
agencies;
-- the PRM bureau supports international and non-governmental
organizations working in Colombia that provide food, temporary
shelter, basic health and sanitation, education and other emergency
humanitarian assistance to displaced people. PRM also supports the
dissemination of information on international humanitarian law to the
Colombian military and police, local civilian authorities, and illegal
armed groups;
-- DOJ-sponsored justice-sector reform programs have helped the
Government of Colombia to reform its judicial system and strengthen
local government capacity; implement a comprehensive program to
investigate and prosecute kidnapping and extortion offenses; trained a
cadre of professional prosecutors; enhanced maritime enforcement
capabilities; and improved witness and judicial protection programs;
-- DOJ support to the Prosecutor General's Office has helped in
establishing dedicated human rights satellite units arrayed throughout
the country to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of human
rights abuses.
Additionally, our focus on human rights is having an impact on
Colombian institutions. President Uribe is working to end collusion
between the Colombian military and the paramilitary AUC terrorist
organization. Last year, 168 paramilitaries were killed, 764 captured
and 20 turned themselves in. In the past two months, the GOC has
increased its crackdown on illegal paramilitary groups. In four major
operations, Colombian security forces detained an Army officer
paramilitary collaborator, arrested a major paramilitary leader and
apprehended large groups of illegal combatants.
The Department takes very seriously the human rights record of the
Colombian military. For example, on January 3, we suspended assistance
to a Colombian Air Force unit (CACOM-1) due to lack of responsiveness
and progress on an important human rights case. The suspension will
remain effective until the Colombian government provides a credible
account of what occurred at Santo Domingo and takes appropriate action
consistent with the facts.
The State Department carefully monitors the human rights record of the
Colombian Armed Forces. Pursuant to the "Leahy Amendment," we
regularly vet units of the security forces and do not provide
assistance to units for which there is credible evidence (as
determined by the Secretary) that they have committed gross violations
of human rights.
In addition, the Department is moving ahead toward rapid resumption of
the Air Bridge Denial program. The U.S. and Colombia have signed a
bilateral agreement which lays out the safety procedures for the
program. Our goal is to ensure that we have adequate procedures in
place for the protection of innocent life, while at the same time
providing a credible deterrent to aerial trafficking of drugs.
Recently, a certification team visited Colombia to review whether the
Colombians would be able to discharge their responsibilities to
operate the Air Bridge Denial Program in accordance with the safety
procedures agreed upon between Colombia and the United States. If the
team recommends that Colombia's procedures meet the requirements of
the bilateral agreement, which would be a major step toward
facilitating the initiation of the program, Department officials will
be on the Hill this week to seek congressional advice. If the
president signs a determination, the Air Bridge Denial program can
recommence. We are hoping this will happen in the near future.
I would like to note that we have achieved all this while conforming
to the limits on U.S. personnel in Colombia in connection with support
of Plan Colombia -- 400 U.S. civilian contractors and 400 U.S.
military personnel -- established by Congress.
If present programs are sustained, then Plan Colombia's original goal
of reducing coca cultivation in Colombia by 50 percent by the end of
2006 should be achieved. President Uribe has called for a more
ambitious target: eradication of all coca by the end of his term of
office in 2006.
If these eradication and interdiction objectives are achieved, we
would expect to see a major reduction in the amount of cocaine
available for the United States, with corresponding impacts on cocaine
price and purity in the U.S. market. Reductions in Colombian heroin
availability might not produce comparable effects because of the
availability of heroin supplies from other parts of the world.
IV. CHALLENGES TO OUR PROGRAMS
In addition to our success, many challenges also confront us in
Colombia.
First and foremost among these is safety of our personnel. The
terrorist organizations operating in Colombia are ruthless killers,
and the aerial spray operations, particularly of opium poppy, are
perilous. This weekend, another spray plane was destroyed when it hit
a tree while spraying coca; fortunately, the pilot survived. Recently,
we lost a U.S.-citizen spray pilot during low-level application of
herbicide to opium poppy. There was no evidence that the plane had
been hit by ground fire; rather, it appears that pilot error -- in the
difficult terrain of the high Andes -- was the cause of the crash.
This latest tragedy brings to three the number of U.S.-citizen
civilian State Department pilot contractors who have died in Colombia
since 1998. Two perished on July 27, 1998, in an aviation accident
when their T-65 aircraft crashed during a training flight.
Colombia is a high-risk assignment and the U.S. military personnel,
U.S. civilian contractors and the permanent and temporary U.S.
government personnel assigned to Colombia are well aware of this. Our
personnel and official facilities maintain a high state of alert, take
every possible precaution, and are very proactive in matters regarding
safety. The Department continually strives to improve the
already-strong safety record of our spray program.
We are currently instituting additional safety procedures, including
improved intelligence exchange, increased armed helicopter escorts,
and joint operations that employ Counter Drug Brigade ground troops on
interdiction operations in areas where increased hostile fire is
expected.
V. THE ROAD AHEAD
Full realization of U.S. policy goals will require a concerted
Colombian strategy and effort -- backed by sustained U.S. assistance
-- to establish control over its national territory, eliminate
narcotics cultivation and distribution, end terrorism, and promote
human rights and the rule of law. We urge Members to support full
funding of our 2004 budget request of $731 million, of which $463
million is for Colombia.
This budget reflects our continued support of the Uribe
Administration's courageous anti-narcotics and anti-terror agenda. The
progress described earlier needs to be cemented if we are to achieve
our long-term goals of improvements in all areas of Colombian life and
reduction in illegal drug cultivation and terrorism.
First, we would stress that the Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI) is
a regional effort. It will require full support in Congress if it is
to succeed. Among the goals we have set for ourselves is to ensure
that accomplishments in Colombia do not reverse our gains in Bolivia
or Peru. We also aim to prevent spillover into Brazil, Ecuador, Panama
and Venezuela.
We are making significant progress in our eradication efforts, but
will require continued support for eradication and alternative
development in order to eliminate remaining cultivation and replanting
and to deter permanently the coca growers from pursuing this illicit
business. Our budget request balances law enforcement with sustainable
long-term development.
In Bolivia, we need to provide the GOB with strong incentives to
reinforce counter-narcotics programs, particularly in light of
increasing political pressure to stop eradication and increase licit
coca cultivation. In Peru, the democratic government is experiencing
unprecedented unrest and resistance in hardcore coca-cultivation
regions. We should not turn our backs on these partners when they most
need our political and financial support to cement earlier eradication
gains.
Specifically, our 2004 ACI programs are intended to do the following:
-- Combat illicit drugs and terrorism, defend human rights, promote
economic, social and alternative development initiatives, reform and
strengthen the administration of justice, and assist the internally
displaced;
-- Enhance counter-terrorism capability by providing advice,
assistance, training and equipment, and intelligence support to the
Colombian Armed Forces and the Colombian National Police through
ongoing programs as well as by implementing the new authorities and
the pipeline protection program;
-- Promote economic growth and development through support for
market-based policies, including negotiation of the Free Trade Area of
the Americas (FTAA), and implementation of the Andean Trade
Preferences Act (ATPA) as amended by the Andean Trade Program and Drug
Eradication Act (ATPDEA);
-- Reduce the production and trafficking of cocaine and heroin from
Colombia by strengthening counter-narcotics eradication programs;
advise, train, and assist counterdrug organizations and units;
dismantle drug trafficking organizations; disrupt the transportation
of illegal drugs, precursor and essential chemicals, trafficker
supplies, and cash; address major cultivation regions; and respond
rapidly to shifts in cultivation regions; eliminate any remaining coca
and opium cultivation, to include replanting of these crops;
-- Increase institutional development, professionalization and
enlargement of Colombian security forces to permit the exercise of
governmental authority throughout the national territory while
ensuring respect for human rights; and
-- Reform and strengthen the criminal justice system by enhancing the
capabilities of the police investigators and prosecutors as the
country moves in transition from an inquisitorial to a more
accusatorial system with oral and open trials to increase
effectiveness and build public confidence.
Along with ACI funding, Colombia assistance will include $110 million
in FMF funding, to include maritime interdiction support -- a priority
of President Uribe and one that meshes with U.S. counter-narcotics
goals.
VI. CONCLUSION
Finally, I would like to thank you again for this opportunity to
update you on the status of our counter-narcotics policy and programs.
The Administration is committed to supporting the Uribe Administration
and to working with our other partners in the Andean region and beyond
to stem the flow of illicit narcotics into our country and to check
the influence of terrorist organizations wherever they reside.
These are important and costly missions -- both in terms of financial
and human resources. But they are worthy missions which require the
continued support of our congressional partners. We thank you for the
tremendous support and counsel you have provided in the past, and look
forward to our continued partnership.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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