by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York), April 3, 2003
(Mrs. LOWEY was
given permission to include a statement at this point in the RECORD.)
Mrs. LOWEY. Mr.
Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment.
The additional funding
requested for Colombia has no place in this bill. More importantly, it
adds funding in support of a policy that is essentially flawed. President
Uribe's election gave us some initial hope that he would engage all the
disparate elements of the conflict with new ideas and a real commitment
to bring lasting peace.
we have seen is an escalation of activity from guerilla organizations,
increasing influence and control by paramilitary organizations, no reduction
in coca cultivation, and a slippage in the commitment to prosecute human
I have no illusion
about the complexity of the problems of Colombia, but I do not think we
should be adding funds to expand our commitment there at this point. Make
no mistake: we are headed toward the direct involvement of U.S. troops
in that conflict. I regret the fact that there are U.S. hostages in FARC
camps, and I support all efforts to rescue them, but this funding goes
beyond that and expands the involvement of U.S. personnel on the ground.
If the policy were
balanced and we had a real commitment on the part of the Colombian government
to deal with all aspects of the problem--including the rapidly expanding
drug trafficking by paramilitary organizations--it might be different.
Unfortunately we don't, and the influence of these organizations and their
cooperation with the Colombian military increases daily. The Colombian
military has succeeded in decreasing the control that rebel groups have
enjoyed in certain parts of the country. But these successful military
operations have been followed up by paramilitary units moving in to these
same areas and taking control. This has occurred in the Buena Ventura
port area on the Pacific Coast of Colombia, which is a primary drug transshipment
port near the town of Cali. And we also have seen no action by the Colombians
to arrest indicted members of the Paramilitaries.
Until we have a
balanced policy with a real commitment by the Colombian government to
deal with all aspects of the problem, our funding for eradication and
military training only serves to inflame, not to stop, the conflict. I
urge my colleagues to move funding away from these purposes, and instead
invest it in homeland security--where it can make a positive difference
in the lives of the American people.
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)