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Last Updated:4/18/03
Speech by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona), April 3, 2003

(Mr. KOLBE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.

I want to talk about this amendment which does affect both the defense chapter of this supplemental as well as the foreign assistance chapter. The supplemental bill before the House today has the same level as the President's request for funding for Colombia in the Foreign Assistance Chapter. It includes $37 million foreign military financing and $34 million from the Andean Counterdrug Initiative. The McGovern amendment would cut $27 million from the Andean Counterdrug Initiative and $34 million from the funds in the Department of Defense Chapter. It leaves in the foreign military financing assistance and $7 million of the Andean Counterdrug Initiative.

Let me begin by saying about my opposition to the amendment that the funding in supplemental legislation for Colombia is subject to all of the restrictions and conditions that exist under current law. These funds are not exempt from those conditions. The funds are subject to human rights certifications. They are subject to coca spraying conditions, conditions on the use of U.S. helicopters, the rules of engagement, and there is more. In fact, let me emphasize to my colleagues that there is no provision in the foreign assistance legislation that is subject to more conditions than these funds, with the possible exception of those funds provided for the West Bank and Gaza.

I apparently do not need to remind the subcommittee that Colombia is South America's oldest democracy, but it is a country that is torn by decades of civil strife. It has endemic violence, corruption, deep socioeconomic inequities, weak institutions, and a serious economic recession, all exacerbated by the illicit drug production and trafficking. Drug profits play the motivating factor in inciting the terrorism that is killing 3,500 Colombian citizens every year. It is in the national interest of the United States to promote better stability in Colombia by helping it address these longstanding problems and confronting the socially corrosive drug industry.

But for the first time since becoming chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, I have some good news to share with my colleagues. Our eradication efforts with President Uribe's administration and with his assistance are making a difference in Colombia.

The last half of 2002 and the first half of 2003 marks a turning point in the struggle by the United States and Colombia against narcotrafficking and terrorism. We have made significant progress; but as a result, the narcoterrorist groups have become desperate.

President Uribe and his senior administration officials, in office only since August of 2002, have demonstrated the will and the ability to fight narcotrafficking and terrorism at their roots. Therefore, the terrorists are now targeting him and other officials for assassination. Funding in this supplemental will provide much-needed security upgrades for official facilities and training for Colombian security personnel to reduce the threat of assassinations.

I would urge my colleagues to recognize the situation in Colombia, to recognize that U.S. national interest in a stable Colombia is important, to recognize that we are making a difference. Reducing U.S. support at this time would send the wrong message to the FARC and to the paramilitaries.

I urge my colleagues to oppose the McGovern amendment.

As of April 18, 2003, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r108:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20030403)

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