by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California), July 23, 2003
Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
in strong support of the McGovern-Skelton amendment. This amendment
transfers $75 million from Colombian military assistance to global programs
for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Now, this amendment signals to
Colombia and the world that this government is serious about the need
to respect human rights, that it believes that we need to rethink our
approach to the Colombian situation, and that we recognize that the
HIV/AIDS pandemic is the greatest health and humanitarian crisis of
has failed. Coca production in the Andes has increased. Eradication
programs are shifting production, not eliminating it, and they are exposing
men, women, and children of the region to dangerous pesticides. At the
same time, paramilitary organizations tied to the Colombian army we
are supporting have engaged in gross human rights violations. Those
same paramilitaries, according to the Washington Post and other sources,
are major drug dealers themselves. The Post reports that paramilitaries
control 40 percent, that is 40 percent of the Colombian drug trade.
Human Rights Watch and other humanitarian organizations have reported
that Colombian military officers alleged to have committed human rights
abuses remain on duty.
be able to translate United States assistance into influence to promote
the protection of human rights. That is not happening in Colombia, and
civilians are paying the price. We are compelled to ask: What are we
trying to do in Colombia and what is our exit strategy? How much will
we spend on this program and what will it accomplish? The United States
has a long and troubled history in Latin America, and we should end
same time, this bill underfunds the President's $3 billion HIV/AIDS
initiative, so this amendment would help correct this imbalance that
will cost lives. While the money that this amendment would transfer
from the Colombian account is a modest sum by most standards, it can
go a long way towards helping those individuals who are suffering and
dying from HIV and AIDS and other opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis
the cost of generic anti-retroviral drugs dropping to under $300 a year,
let me tell my colleagues what $75 million would do. Seventy-five million
dollars would allow another 250,000 HIV/AIDS infected individuals access
to these lifesaving drugs. Seventy-five million dollars could also pay
for approximately 7 million people to take the normal $10 treatment
course for tuberculosis, which is the leading killer of HIV and AIDS
patients. And with the cost of most malaria treatment courses ranging
from $2 to $5, up to 15 million patients could be treated with just
be clear, though, that as much good as this money can do, it can in
no way overcome the nearly $1 billion shortfall in spending for our
global AIDS, TB, and malaria initiatives. Now, the President has promised
$3 billion, but it is obvious that this Congress must deliver on that.
I would hope that the President would try very hard to find some way
to make up the difference between the $3 billion that we authorized
back in May and the just over $2 billion that we are now appropriating.
to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Kilpatrick) and the gentleman
from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) and the gentleman from Missouri (Mr.
Skelton), with this amendment we have an opportunity to piece this money,
and that is what we are doing, piecing this $1 million together. But
it is worth it.
be a travesty to underfund our first-year pledge of the 5 years, $15
billion commitment we made so recently to fight global AIDS, particularly
since the President spoke so much about it during his recent trip to
Africa. Expectations have been raised, and we must deliver upon them
or we risk further damage to our credibility.
improves our foreign policy in two directions. It helps correct a Colombian
policy that has gone badly astray, and it transfers desperately needed
funds to the most urgent humanitarian and health crisis of our time.
It helps us, this House, deliver on the President's promise. So I urge
my colleagues to support this amendment.
As of August
6, 2003, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r108:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20030723)