from State Department briefing, February 11, 2002
Philip Reeker, spokesman
Q Yes. Maria Elena
Matheus, El Universal. Just to follow up, Secretary Powell referred to
documents that link the Venezuelan government, Chavez government, with
narcotraffickers, with the FARC. When he was mentioning these documents,
was he referring to the public documents or are you analyzing further
MR. REEKER: I think
as Secretary Powell himself said in that testimony, with these charges
of collusion between the guerrilla groups in Colombia and the Venezuelan
military, that we've seen some reports on that. I've read press reports
about it as well. But Secretary Powell said it's prudent now to wait for
a more complete assessment before we comment on that. So I don't have
anything further to add to what he said; that we would be looking at that,
making an a assessment of that. And I don't have anything further to add.
...Q There is a letter
sent by the Congress on International Relations to Rand Beers, assistant
secretary of State for Bureau -- for the Bureau of International Narcotics
and -- very long. Okay? (Chuckles.)
MR. REEKER: Mm-hm.
My good friend Randy Beers.
Q Okay. They ask
him for a clarification on U.S. policy towards the use of counternarcotics
assets, especially helicopters, in Colombia to fight terrorism and kidnapping.
Apparently, the assets to fight narco-traffic were not initially supposed
to be used for -- to fight terrorism. In any case, they welcome this move,
if there is such a move.
MR. REEKER: Well,
I'm not familiar with the specifics of the letter. I mean, generally our
engagement in counternarcotics in Colombia is well-structured under U.S.
laws. Our policy of supporting President Pastrana's plan there, our Andean
regional initiative, which we have funded, is very important as part our
As you know, the
FARC and other organizations -- the ELN -- in Colombia have long been
designated as foreign terrorist organizations under our law. And it is
a well-known fact that these organizations, the FARC and others, are involved
in narcotics trafficking. It's how these terrorists fund much of their
activity. And so that has been one of our concerns.
narcotics trafficking is also fighting terrorism. It's of great importance
to us. Democracy in Colombia is something that we think is important.
Human rights is central to that relationship. We continuously engage the
government of Colombia in that issue as well.
As you know, Undersecretary
of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman just returned -- in fact,
I believe today -- from Colombia, where he had a series of meetings about
our broad-based strategy to help Colombia's democracy combat the illicit
drug trade and promote socioeconomic development and strengthen democratic
institutions, as well as protection of human rights, as I mentioned.
So those are all
parts of our Colombia policy. I'm not familiar with the specific letter,
but certainly we're determined to keep working closely with Colombia and
to promote those values.