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Last Updated:3/20/00
Press release by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), February 22, 2000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2000

Biden Calls for Transparency in Colombia Drug Plan

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said today he would support the Clinton Administration's plan for a two-year, $1.6 billion effort to help Colombia fight drug production and trafficking.

But he said the United States must be careful it does not get entangled in Colombia's war with leftist guerrillas. "I am confident that the U.S. military does not want to become enmeshed in Colombia's civil war, but I am not so sure that the Colombia military wouldn't like the United States to come to its rescue," Biden said at a joint hearing held by the Senate Drug Caucus and the Senate Finance Committee.

"The proposal to train and equip counter-narcotics battalions in the Colombian army is not without risk. Because the drug trade and Colombia's civil war are intertwined in southern Colombia, it seems almost inevitable that these battalions will occasionally become engaged in counter-insurgency operations. We should recognize that reality," Biden said.

He added, "We must make clear to the Colombian government, in our words and our deeds, that although their fight against narcotics trafficking is our fight, their war against the guerrillas is their fight to win."

To guard against U.S. involvement in the guerrilla war, Biden said Congress must insist on total "transparency" about the U.S. plan as it is carried out. "We should seek transparency ...about the numbers of U.S. forces present in the country, transparency about the use of our equipment, and transparency about the activities of the U.S.-funded battalions," Biden said.

Biden also called for patience in expecting results. "Although the plan before us is a two year budget, this will be a long-term effort. We should recognize that it will take more than two years to make significant progress in turning things around in Colombia."

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As of March 18, 2000, this document is also available at http://biden.senate.gov/press/release/022200f1.htm

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