by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York), July 23, 2003
Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
this bill provides $574 million for Colombia. The amendment would cut
$75 million from that total. And the reason I support it, although I
have great respect for the chairman's position, is because I have fundamental
questions about the direction in which our Colombia policy is headed.
colleagues may know, the United States' commitment to Colombia has shifted
in the last year from being exclusively focused on drugs towards an
open-ended, long-term commitment to aid the Columbian government in
its war against guerillas and terrorists.
to that shift in the United States' policy has been more violence directed
at U.S. personnel, including kidnappings, hostages being taken and planes
being shot down.
marks the end of the original 5-year Plan Colombia, and as we near that
time we find that coca production in the region has increased
rather than decreased, violence continues unabated, more Colombians
are internally displaced.
The human rights situation is worse. No viable alternative development
scheme is in place, and drug dealing paramilitary organizations control
much of the country. Meanwhile, the amount of United States assistance
to Colombia has increased every year to over half a billion requested
next year. Plans underway in the administration will lead to an even
broader commitment to Colombia to assist in this civil war in the name
of fighting terrorism.
to the GAO, the administration has not developed estimates of future
program costs, defined their future roles in Colombia, identified a
proposed end state, or determined how they plan to achieve it.
the original debate on Plan Colombia, critics said we were descending
a slippery slope. Well, we are hurtling down that slope with no end
in sight. Last year, in the context of agreeing to broaden the authority
for U.S. programs beyond drugs, the new government of Colombia agreed
to adopt major reforms within the military and to significantly increase
security expenditures from its own budget. While it appears that the
Colombians increase their security budget in 2002 and 2003, the United
States has no firm commitment that the increased level will continue
in 2004 and beyond. In the meantime, the costs of simply maintaining
the aircraft and equipment we already have there now exceeds $230 million
per year. The best you can say about reforms within the military is
that they are a work in progress.
Colombia. I want to help Colombia. But we do not help Colombia by continuing
an unbalanced policy, looking the other way on human rights problems
and continue collusion with paramilitary organizations and paying the
maintenance bill for their helicopters while failing to insist on a
viable development scheme for rural areas.
of this amendment will not cut off aid to Colombia. It will send a strong
signal to the administration that they need to make some policy changes,
clarify the length and terms of our commitment and present Congress
with an exit strategy.
I urge support of the McGovern 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)