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Last Updated:8/6/03
Speech by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Virginia), July 23, 2003

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Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to any attempts to cut funding for Andean Counterdrug Initiatives (ACI).

July 13 marked the third anniversary of Congressional approval of Plan Colombia. We need to reaffirm, not dismantle, our commitment to this program, to the people of Colombia, and to American citizens. I have led three congressional delegations to Colombia over the past five months. I can say firsthand that our significant investment is beginning to pay dividends. Together with the strong commitment of the Uribe Administration and historic levels of support from the Colombian people, U.S. involvement in Colombia is beginning to hit narco-terrorists where it hurts.

We are seeing tremendous results in illegal crop eradication, and Plan Colombia's efforts have produced record reductions in coca production and in the destruction of drug labs. Each week brings news of new seizures of cocaine and heroine--interdictions that are usually the result of U.S.-supplied intelligence. In fact, just three weeks ago during my most recent CODEL, Colombian officials seized over a ton of cocaine from a drug trafficking boat off the Carribean coast.

The Colombian government is reestablishing state presence in areas of the country that for decades lacked it. Criminals who have remained at bay for years are being captured and extradited to the United States for prosecution. During the first 11 months of President Uribe's tenure, 68 individuals have been extradited from Colombia to the United States.

Mr. Chairman, Plan Colombia is working. I have seen firsthand the devastation that drug production and trafficking has on Colombia. To those who question our investment, I would ask them to visit, as I have, Colombian soldiers who have lost their limbs or eyesight or sustained permanent disabilities in their battle to return peace to their nation--and keep drugs off American streets.

I would also ask them to visit Barrio Nelson Mandela, a USAID-sponsored facility for internally displaced people who have been forced from their homes by drug traffickers and guerillas. This facility showed me how our work on behalf of Colombia's millions of internally displaced people is offering men, women, and children a second chance at a violence-free, productive life.

My travels to Colombia have shown me just how critical U.S. assistance is to their government. With such promising results over the last 3 years, we need to sustain the momentum.

Of course obstacles remain, and progress is slower than we would like it to be. But now is not the time to turn our backs on this battle that is so intrinsically tied to our war on terrorism and the scourge of illegal drug use.

The Uribe Administration is committed to this war. But it needs United States assistance to improve mobility, intelligence, and training. Make no mistake: Colombia today is doing its share. Spending on security forces has increased under President Uribe from $2.7 billion to over $4 billion.

We simply cannot afford for President Uribe to fail to rid his country of the narco-terror threat. Nor would Colombians understand such a step if this amendment prevails.

The Administration requested $731,000,000 for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI) for fiscal year 2004. Full funding of this request is critical to sustaining our success in Colombia and to protecting Colombia's neighbors from a spillover effect.

It's simple, Mr. Chairman: Now is not the time to turn our backs on the progress we are making against narco-terrorism in Colombia. We cannot win this war on drugs and drug-supported terrorism without the proper tools and resources. Vote ``no'' on the McGovern amendments.

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