release by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), February 15, 2000
SCHAKOWSKY RAISES MAJOR CONCERNS ABOUT PROPOSED $1.6 BILLION AID PACKAGE
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) today expressed
grave concerns about the $1.6 billion in proposed aid to Columbia. During
a hearing of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug
Policy and Human Resources, Schakowsky questioned the current U.S. policy
of investing billions of dollars in a military drug war that has yielded
little or no results.
"From 1990 to 1998, we spent $625 million in Columbia and here is what
we got: a 50% increase in coca production," Schakowsky said.
"Considering the demonstrated
failure of militarized eradication efforts to date, why should we believe
that we would achieve results by increasing the amount we already spend?
What will it take to achieve victory in Columbia and are we prepared to
make that commitment in dollars and lives?" she asked during today's
Schakowsky also said that
the involvement by our government in this conflict could draw the U.S.
into Columbia's civil war. She specifically pointed to a recent Op-ed
by former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert White, where he stated
that our current intervention in Columbia is reminiscent of the U.S. failed
policies in El Salvador and Vietnam. Schakowsky has invited Ambassador
White to brief her colleagues on the Colombian situation.
Furthermore, Schakowsky expressed
concern that the aid package does not include adequate accountability
measures even though the Colombian armed forced have been linked to human
rights abuses and paramilitary groups. More than 100,000 people have died
in Columbia's civil war.
"We must find more innovative
approaches to cut drug use. We know that each dollar spent on treatment
here at home is 23 more times effective than eradication," Schakowsky
said. She pointed to a recent report by the RAND Corporation which found
that providing treatment to cocaine users is ten times more effective
than drug interdiction schemes and 23 times more effective than eradicating
coca at its source.
As of March 13, 2000, this
document is also available at http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/il09_schakowsky/pr2_15_00columbia.html