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Last Updated:6/19/02
Speech by Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas), May 23, 2002

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

Mr. Chairman, we heard from the gentleman from Florida a lot of talk about democracy. Today we stand here talking about democracy, and yet we are going to be adding $750 billion to our citizens' credit cards, increasing their credit card debt. And at the same time we fight this war, this war is being paid for by our seniors, the ones that are least capable of doing that, from our Social Security and Medicare fund.

Every single war that we have had, we have had a tax, all the way from the Spanish-American War. And in fact we still have it to this day. Every single war, we have been there and we have been willing to pay that tax to pay for that war. This is the first war that I know of that we have rewarded the corporations by giving them a tax cut to the most wealthy, and we put it on the backs of the ones who least are able to pay. In addition, not only are we doing that, but we put it on the backs of our soldiers that are out there fighting the war. We expect them also to pay the debt later on after we are gone.

The amendment before us, authored by the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton), and we all know him to be the ranking minority member on the Committee on Armed Services, is an amendment that I would ask for my colleagues to look at seriously. It is an amendment that talks about the fact that for the longest time in South America we talked and they learned the lingo. In South America, they learned, well, if we talk about Communists down here, we might get some money from the Americans; if we talk about drug dealers, we might get some money from the Americans. And now the lingo is, let us identify them as terrorists, and we might get some money from the Americans.

The reality is that in Colombia the commitment on their part when we look in terms of their expenditures for

[Page: H3005]
the military and our expenditures, we are basically funding their war. I know later on we will hear from the gentleman from Mississippi (Mr. Taylor) about the haves and a large number of have-nots. So we have a struggle for the last 35 years, a genuine struggle for democracy in that effort; and we have a struggle that we are now deciding to get involved in.
I sit on the Committee on Armed Services; and when they first came to us, I will be honest, I voted for the amendment to go and get involved in Colombia. One of the first questions I asked, because we asked the military for a military response, and that is what we got, we got a military response, and I asked them, how are you going to make a distinction between who the dealers are, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Initially, they could not respond. They said they were going to go after the drug dealers.

We recognize that there are both drug dealers on the right, on the left, on the genuine side and even on the government side. They are all over. The key is, who do we go after? The gentleman from Florida talks about the fact that it is a democracy. Yes, it is a democracy, and we need to push it forward. And we can do some things to help them to move forward, but this is not the way to do it.

When they came before us, I also asked them, in dealing with drugs, how do you expect to be able to contain it to just Colombia? We talked about it, and there was analogy made that if we put the squeeze on Colombia, we knew darn well that, like a balloon, when you squeeze the balloon, and if there are drug dealers there, they are going to move elsewhere. And sure enough, now they have come to us and they have said, you know what, this thing has gone into the other surrounding countries. So now we are funding about seven other countries around there because there are also drugs occurring there. That is exactly what we did not want to occur, but we have that happening now. We put the squeeze on them and they are gone.

The reality is in dealing with drugs in this country, and we have to face it, and we know it full well, that we have been unwilling to deal with it here in this country. I worked as a drug counselor, as a social worker for 7 years, with both heroin addicts and adolescent substance abuse. And in the 1970s and 1980s, I recall the district attorneys every election time they would come up and pick up a lot of the heroin addicts. Very few times did they ever pick up the ones who were actually pushing to make the money. Most of those people, as we well know, some are pillars of our community that we have chosen not to go after. We have chosen our scapegoats.

It is better to go spend our resources in South America and elsewhere, because we have chosen not to go after those pillars of our communities after those drugs. And until we decide to do that, and until we decide that is the way we will be able to fight this, this is only going to escalate and go further.

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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