This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Home
|
Analyses
|
Aid
|
|
|
News
|
|
|
|
Last Updated:6/19/02
Speech by Rep. William Delahunt (D-Massachusetts), May 23, 2002

Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, as my friend, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on International Relations indicated, we have traveled together frequently to Colombia, so I am all too familiar with the incredible violence that has plagued Colombia for far too long.

I acknowledge we must accept a certain responsibility, for it is our insatiable demand for cocaine and for heroin that has exacerbated that violence and brought it to a new horrific level.

Assistance and support for Colombia is part of our responsibility, but it is extremely important that we be clear about what kind of assistance we should offer and what we should expect from the Colombians. I believe that what we have been doing recently lacks that clarity.

The U.S. policy is undergoing a sea change in such an incremental fashion so as to be unnoticeable. That, I submit, is unfortunate and very risky. During debate on the original Plan Colombia, which I supported, I rejected the argument that our involvement in Colombia could lead us to a Vietnam-like quagmire, in part because there were clear and bright lines in Plan Colombia as to the limits of our support.

But now we are beginning to blur those lines, Mr. Chairman. We are removing those conditions and restrictions contained in Plan Colombia on a piecemeal basis. We are on the verge of making commitments that quantitatively and qualitatively substantially change our role in Colombia.

There have been recommendations that we increase military assistance and enlarge our direct counterterrorism role in Colombia, and I underscore ``direct'' role in Colombia, all this without a thoughtful and extensive debate that carefully weighs the implications of such a fundamental shift in American policy.

For example, 2 weeks ago, Plan Colombia contained an explicit ceiling, 500, on the number of U.S. military personnel permitted to enter Colombia. On May 10, this House passed a defense authorization bill that would essentially allow the Pentagon to introduce an unlimited number of American troops into that brutal conflict without any consent or notice to Congress.

Today, the supplemental contains $6 million to protect a single oil pipeline in Colombia. But let us be clear: It really is simply a downpayment, because it is estimated that the full cost to the American taxpayer to protect that one pipeline is $98 million, and I believe that those additional monies will be included in the regular course of the appropriation bills we have to consider.

How much will the next pipeline cost the American taxpayers? One can imagine American taxpayer dollars being utilized to protect all sorts of infrastructure projects in Colombia: bridges, aqueducts. The United States ambassador in Bogota indicated that there are more than 300 strategic infrastructures in Colombia that need protection.

Now we are also considering whether to eliminate the restrictions that limit our current assistance to counternarcotics purposes. As others have said, make no mistake, not only will this result in an increased involvement by American forces in an expanding conflict, but it will be interpreted in Colombia as a willingness on the part of the United States to become directly engaged in actual conflict. That will be the interpretation that the Colombian people will make on their own. Now, do we really want that? Do we really want to chart this course without more debate?

I urge adoption of the amendment.

As of June 19, 2002, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20020523)

Google
Search WWW Search ciponline.org

Asia
|
Colombia
|
|
Financial Flows
|
National Security
|

Center for International Policy
1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Suite 801
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 232-3317 / fax (202) 232-3440
cip@ciponline.org