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Last Updated:4/18/03
Speech by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Virginia), April 3, 2003

Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.

I think adopting this amendment would be a huge mistake for this House; so I rise in strong opposition to this amendment which proposes cutting vitally needed assistance to Colombia and the Andean region. Quite simply, now is not the time to turn our backs on the progress we are making against narcoterrorism in Colombia.

General James Hill, the commander of the U.S. Southern Command, said recently that the so-called narcoterrorists operating in Colombia and throughout Latin America fuel and fund worldwide terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Our counternarcotics and counterterror initiatives in Colombia are finally beginning to bear fruit. For example, last month John Walters, the director of the Office of National Drug Policy, announced promising new estimates of coca eradication in Colombia, and these numbers do not account for the intensified spraying that has occurred since President Uribe took office in 2002. It would be foolish for us to send this message to the Colombian Government now and for us to derail this program just as it is beginning to succeed.

The administration has requested the allocation of supplemental funding to support the Uribe administration's commitment to stamp out terrorists, reduce the level of narcotics trafficking, and eventually eliminate his nation's supply of drugs. President Uribe's aggressive approach to counternarcotics and antiterrorist programs has seen significant results in a very short period of time.

Our 2003 funding was developed prior to President Uribe's taking office, and it is not sufficient to appropriately and effectively fund the current pace of our counternarcotics operations. Supplemental funding would provide Colombia with several essential tools and resources, including intelligence equipment to detect threats against U.S. and Colombian officials and increase capabilities to enhance existing eradication efforts.

After a recent visit with President Uribe in Bogota, I can tell the Members that the Colombian Government's commitment is strong. President Uribe's administration is working to enhance state presence in vast areas of the country that have lacked it for decades. They have the popular support of a vast majority of Colombians to beef up and spray eradication efforts, impose new taxes, to strengthen their police and military, and reform their beleaguered criminal justice system.

Of course, significant hurdles remain. The FARC, ELN, and AUC continue to hold sway over large portions of the countryside where there is little, if any, state presence. The narcotics terrorists have also shown no respect for human rights and do not value human rights. They have murdered and kidnapped innocent men and women and children including American citizens. As we prepare to reaffirm our commitment to the demand side of the war on drugs by reauthorizing drug policy legislation in this Congress, it is imperative that we continue to closely monitor both progress and setbacks on the supply side in Colombia.

With military intervention in Iraq under way and concerns about homeland security here at an all-time high, it is important we do not overlook the battle against narcoterrorism going on in Colombia. It is part and parcel of our international antiterrorist efforts.

The killing and kidnapping of Americans and the murderous bombing of a Colombia club frequented by families are the acts of a desperate band of outlaws.

Mr. Chairman, the Uribe administration has made more progress in 7 months than we have seen in many years. Vote ``no'' on this 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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