This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

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Last Updated:4/18/03
Speech by Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-North Carolina), April 3, 2003

Mr. BALLENGER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) that would cut $34 million in Colombian assistance provided by the Defense Department and $27 million earmarked for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative to be added to the Office of Domestic Preparedness.

Mr. Chairman, it really makes no sense at this time to direct additional funds to the Office of Domestic Preparedness when $331 million remains unspent from a previous allocation of $494 million.

President Uribe of Colombia is showing real leadership in the face of drug-financed terrorism. His life is always in danger. Our drug czar, John Walters, recently testified before my subcommittee about Colombia's record progress in eliminating illegal drugs. The governor of a leading drug-producing area in Colombia, Putamayo, was in my office just this week telling me of additional successful efforts in his Putamayo district. In fact, drug production in Putamayo has already been reduced from 66 million hectares to 13 million hectares. That is a reduction of 80 percent over 2 years.

Cutting aid to Colombia would also remove search and rescue funding, even as we work to return three Americans who are being held by the FARC.

Mr. Chairman, the drug war continues. Our homeland security compels every effort to fight the drug scourge that continues to kill our children, up to 30,000 a year. Compare that to Iraq. We have an ally in Colombia who is fighting this war for us. Let us not reduce our efforts when we are finally winning.

I urge a ``no'' vote on 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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