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Last Updated:6/19/02
Speech by Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Florida), May 23, 2002

Mr. DIAZ-BALART. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

I am a bit perplexed when I hear the argument that there is no democracy in this Chamber, and hour after hour after hour after hour, we have been hearing debate on multiple issues, and the argument has also brought out that on this issue we are debating at this instance, at this instance, which is the aid that the United States is providing to our democratic ally, the democratically-elected government of Colombia, I am hearing that we cannot debate that as well.

The contradiction makes no sense. We are debating it right now, and we in the Committee on Rules permitted, authorized this debate and it is taking place. So that is one thing that struck me that I was not able to understand how the argument can be made that we are not debating when we are debating. We are debating. We have been debating hour after hour after hour after hour, and now we are debating on the issue, the very important issue of United States assistance to the democratically-elected government of Colombia.

The point was made previously that we do not know who the good guys are and the bad guys are in Colombia. The reality of the matter, that is not an issue to be decided by the United States. There is a democratically-elected government in Colombia that is a friend and an ally of the United States, and it is the democratically-elected government in Colombia that is under attack by 3 major, extremely well-financed terrorist groups that engage in narco-trafficking.

The supplemental that we are debating today is a counterterrorism supplemental, and I think it is appropriate for us to consider not only to debate but in this case to help the democratically-elected government of Colombia in counterterrorism efforts. That is the subject matter that we are dealing with in this supplemental.

Another point was brought out previously incorrectly as though this legislation would raise the cap on the number of American trainers that are in Colombia. There is a number of approximately 500 now, and that is not being affected by the legislation. The legislation, that I am informed by my friends on the Committee on Appropriations is the product of a bipartisan compromise, was voted out with votes on both sides of the aisle, and leaders from the Democratic party, with whom we have very serious differences on many issues, agreed in the Committee on Appropriations to this compromise.

So I think that it is very important, especially when we are 3 days away from a presidential election in that country, that friend and ally Colombia, when all of the major candidates for president agree that assistance from us, from the United States, is required for Colombia to achieve peace, that we at this point continue with the bipartisan compromise that came out of the Committee on Appropriations and that we say in a consensus fashion this evening, again in a bipartisan way, that we realize what is going on in Colombia, that the majority of terrorist attacks in the world are against the people of Colombia. They may not be covered by the media, but the reality of the matter is there is not a day that passes that tragedy does not strike the people of Colombia from the terrorist groups that we are helping the democratically-elected government of Colombia combat, and that we are helping in this supplemental by increasing our assistance to the democratically-elected government of Colombia.

Those 3 terrorist groups have a stranglehold on our democratic ally in Colombia and that ally deserves and has received and must continue to receive our aid because those terrorist groups that are narco-terrorists are massacring, they are killing each day, attacking the fabric of society each day.

So that is why I think that the bipartisan compromise that was worked out is to be commended. I hope that this House this evening supports what the Committee on Appropriations passed and overwhelmingly defeats the McGovern amendment which would in effect tell the Colombian people, just a few days before their election, that we do not care about them and we do not respect their democracy. Vote down McGovern.

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)

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