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Last Updated:7/15/03
Speech by Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), July 10, 2003
AMENDMENT NO. 1194

Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I rise to introduce an amendment to the foreign assistance authorization bill regarding Colombia.

Colombia is one of the oldest democracies in our hemisphere. It is under threat by narcotics traffickers, leftwing guerrillas and rightwing paramilitaries. We have been working with the government for several years to combat the twin threats of narcotics and terrorism and to strengthen democracy.

President Uribe and the Republic of Colombia have made great strides in implementing Plan Colombia, eradicating the production of illegal drugs, providing alternatives to coca and poppy cultivation for impoverished Colombians, establishing law and order, and taking steps to protect human rights and to administer justice.

The total area of coca cultivation in Colombia has declined markedly in the past 3 years, while drug seizures are up. The armed forces of Colombia are better trained than four years ago. Colombia is also training and equipping 78,000 new police officers who will be stationed in hundreds of rural towns where there is currently little or no police presence.

The Armed Forces are defeating the narcotics traffickers and terrorists in Colombia by capturing to date a total of 3,553 guerillas and 1,336 members of paramilitaries; destroying more than 1,000 coca laboratories; confiscating billions of gallons of solid and liquid chemicals used for manufacturing cocaine; and seizing more than 4,000 weapons from guerillas and traffickers.

Colombia has extradited 78 individuals to the United States to face trial for narcotics and terrorist charges.

The government of Colombia has made progress in combating crime; during the first months of 2003, homicides have declined 20 percent and kidnappings by 40 percent when compared to the same period in 2002.

The government of Colombia is committed to increased defense spending from 3.5 percent of GDP in 2002 to 5.8 percent by 2006, thereby enlarging the armed forces by 126,000 troops.

The government of Colombia is taking steps to protect the human rights of the people of Colombia by establishing the national early warning system to prevent forced displacement and human rights violations; and by providing protection for 2,731 human rights workers, labor leaders, journalists, and local government officials.

The government is establishing a judge advocate general center and Military Penal Justice Corps with U.S. assistance. It is also creating human rights units under the Colombian Attorney General's Office, the armed forces, and the national police.

The government of Colombia is taking steps to ensure the fair administration of justice in Colombia by establishing 31 Casas de Justicia that have handled 1.6 million cases to date; by creating 19 oral trial courtrooms and training 3,400 judges to administer justice; and by training Colombian law enforcement personnel judges, and prosecutors in anticorruption, money-laundering, and antikidnapping measures.

The United States should continue its strong support of the efforts of President Uribe, the government, and people of Colombia to stop narcotics trafficking, end terrorism, strengthen democracy, and protect human rights.

As of July 15, 2003, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r108:@FIELD(FLD003+s)+@FIELD(DDATE+20030710)
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