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Last Updated:1/4/02
Excerpts from transcript, hearing of the House Budget Committee, March 15, 2001
Secretary Powell: … As Mr. Spratt has noted, the Andean Regional Initiative, which follows on from Plan Colombia, is the largest single account and it is part of a larger account called International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, where we give additional money to the effort to cut off the supply of drugs that are coming in to this nation, and rather than just focus on Plan Colombia as we have for the last couple of years, we are calling this now the Andean Regional Initiative because we just don't want to move the problem to other countries in the Andean region. We understand that it is not just a matter of helicopters. We have to provide alternative sources of income, alternative crops, democracy, nation building, preparation of military and police forces to handle the kind of challenges they face in the Andean region.

Mr. Chairman, before I conclude my prepared statement, let me call your attention to several areas upon which I want to place special emphasis.

In addition to what I have already highlighted with respect to the money for the Andean region, you know that much of that money--some $400 million overall--is directed at Colombia.

We are asking for money to continue and expand programs begun with the $1.3 billion emergency supplemental in FY 2000.

Colombia is the source or transit point of 90 percent of the cocaine and over 50 percent of the heroin that arrives in America. Those percentages are increasing, by the way.

Neighboring countries, such as Bolivia and Peru, have conducted effective coca eradication programs, but maintaining their successes will require vigilance and U.S. assistance. Therefore, we are requesting approximately $100 million for Bolivia and approximately $155 million for Peru, to support those countries' requirements for institution-building, alternative development, and interdiction.

The Bush administration believes strongly that any successful counterdrug strategy in the region must include funding to bring greater economic and political stability to the region and a peaceful resolution to Colombia's internal conflict.

We must capitalize on the ground work of programs funded thus far, including the expansion of Andean eradication and interdiction programs, sustained alternative development programs, and continued attention to justice and government reform initiatives.

In addition, the President's budget includes approximately $75 million for Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, and Panama, to strengthen their efforts to control drug production and the drug trade. Our efforts must be regional in scope if they are to be successful.

...

Mr. Bentsen. … I do want to say that I am concerned with the Plan Colombia. I had problems with it last year. Ultimately we passed it in the budget, but I think the killing of two labor leaders this week in Colombia raises some questions and I hope your Department will look into that.

Supplemental Questions Submitted to Secretary Powell by Congressman Bentsen

Question No. 2. Plan Columbia. Late on Monday, March 12, 2001, gunmen shot, execution-style, two union leaders for the U.S. coal mining firm Drummond Ltd. in northern Colombia. The victims were the president and vice president of Drummond's union. Since 1995, 1,522 labor leaders have been killed in Colombia, mostly by paramilitary groups, according to figures by the country's leading labor organization, the Unified Labor Confederation (CUT). In 2000 alone, 116 labor leaders were killed in Colombia. The Unified Labor Confederation (CUT) asserts that paramilitary groups are primarily responsible for the killed 35,000 civilians in the last decade.

Late last year, we in Congress approved the ``Plan Columbia'' aid package most of which is in the form of military aid in furtherance of efforts to disrupt cocaine production.

Given the sustained level of foreign aid we provide to Colombia, what safeguards are in place to ensure that moneys are not channeled through the Columbian army to the paramilitary death squads operating in rural areas?

Answer No. 2: Section 5634 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2001 (the ``Leahy Amendment'') prohibits the provision of assistance using funds appropriated under that act to any unit of a foreign country's security force if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights, unless the Secretary determines that the government of the country is taking effective measures to bring the responsible members of the security force unit to justice. Standing procedures are in place to ensure that counter narcotics assistance is not provided to units of Columbian security forces against whom there is credible evidence of gross violations of human rights.

Columbia has a comprehensive system of controls that are designed to keep resources from being misused. The system includes the Comptroller General empowered to conduct audits, an Attorney General (Procurador) who serves as a government-wide inspector general, who can remove government officials from office, and a powerful and independent prosecutor (Fiscal). These institutions have offices at both the national and local levels. In addition, for police and military assistance items, USG agencies maintain extensive ``end use monitoring'' to prevent diversion and transferred resources.

The Department believes that the mechanisms in place in connection with the Leahy Amendment and the provisions of the Columbian law provide an effective safeguard against U.S. assistance being provided to units against whom there are credible allegations of gross human rights violations. In addition, we believe these provisions have served as an incentive for the Columbian Government and military to deal with problems in security force units against which there have been credible allegations to gross human rights violations. The Department remains committed, as a matter of highest priority, to working with the Government of Columbia's human rights record.

Ms. Hooley. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for being here. I have actually one short question, and this goes back to Plan Colombia, again. Last year, we dedicated a billion dollars to Plan Colombia, most of that for military, and to go along with that was another $7 billion from Colombia and the international community. Obviously this was not only to eradicate their coco and poppy plants but to give them some other way to earn a living. And the Europeans have backed away from their commitment. Colombia has not put in what it was supposed to put in.

How much are we going to spend this year on Colombia? Is that going to be military? Is that going to be for sustainable development? And how do we get the other European countries interested in putting in their fair share? It does not look to me like Colombia can put in their fair share. They owe money to the IMF. What is the situation? What are your intentions in that area?

Secretary Powell. We are working with the European nations that made a commitment to Plan Colombia to meet those commitments. As we present this year's plan, which is part of the overall international narcotics control and law enforcement function of $948 million, a good piece of that will be for Colombia. But there will be quite a significant amount of funding for other countries in the region: Peru, Brazil, and others.

As we unfold that plan this year, we will be working with the Europeans at the beginning of the process, rather than later in the process, to get their support for what we are trying to do and get them to make their commitment. The Colombians have not been able to come up with their total amount committed yet because of some of the economic difficulties you have touched on, so we are working with them. But at the same time we feel that we have to go forward with our obligation and continue the Andean Program we have in mind because principally the major source of this problem is in the United States, the streets of America where these drugs are being consumed.

This is the demand that we are creating that is causing Colombia the problems that it has. So we have an obligation that we talk about all the time to drop the demand level. And if we get the demand level where it ought to be, near zero, then Colombia will not find itself in danger of losing its democracy. Colombia will not find itself fighting narcotraffickers and terrorists. So I think that we have to set the example in giving the kind of funding that this plan requires and encourage others to meet us in setting their example.

Ms. Hooley. I understand the problem, like you said. Can you tell me specifically what you plan to spend and how is that going to be divided between providing arms to the police force and military there versus sustainable economic plan.

Secretary Powell. For example, Colombia--every country is covered: Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, and Panama. In Colombia the actual interdiction effort will be $252 million and then alternative development, institution building and all of the other things you have an interest in is another $147 million, for a total of $399 million.

Ms. Hooley. OK, so the $147 million is considerably lower than what we put in last year. Correct?

Secretary Powell. Yes. Last year was the biggest expenditure for the helicopters, and we put the helicopter capability in. This is a lot less. Not $1.3 billion, but $399 million out of $731 million goes to Colombia. The rest of the money goes to the other nations in the region as part of the Andean strategy.

Ms. Hooley. Are we going to get help from the European countries?

Secretary Powell. We certainly intend to get help. We intend to ask them to make the commitments they made previously and to support this effort. How successful we are remains to be seen.

Mr. Collins. My question, Plan Colombia or the Andean region, the Congress is appropriating and will continue to appropriate billions of dollars, a substantial amount of money, taxpayer money, to interdict and eradicate drugs in the region. Are you comfortable and what assurances can you give us that the leadership in the region has the will to sustain the initiative once the well-financed and heavy-armed drug cartel is engaged?

Secretary Powell. With respect to Colombia, there is no doubt in my mind that President Pastrana does have the will and is committed to it and is taking chances for democracy. He knows his country is at risk if he is not successful. He also knows it cannot be a one-time shot. If he is successful, he has to continue to build on that success and not step back from it. I also believe, in any conversations with foreign ministers who come from other armies of the region, that there is a similar commitment.

And when we have met with President Fox of Mexico at the summit, President Bush's first summit, I found a similar commitment with respect to drug supply and eradication and interdiction efforts. They all know that they have to help us with this problem because it is putting their nations at risk. And so I am confident that kind of political commitment and support will be there.

Mr. Bass. One last question. As you well know, the Colombia Initiative is quasi-foreign relations, quasi-intelligence. It is transnational. What are your observations about that initiative and where it is and what you think we should be doing about it? It is not exactly germane to this hearing but I am curious to know, because I know that you have been chairing PFIAB for awhile.

Senator Rudman. Correct.

Mr. Bass. And have as good an understanding of the parameters of this issue as anybody. What are your observations about it and what do you think we should be doing? What is going well? What isn't?

Senator Rudman. To be perfectly blunt about it, I don't think we know. We have put an enormous amount of money in that initiative and we just don't have the metrics to determine whether or not it is delivering what we want it to deliver. Having said that, I will tell you what I said privately to Congressman Hamilton as we were listening to the testimony this morning. I have long felt that with all the emphasis on attacking the supply side of the drug problem facing America, it is long overdue that this Congress take a strong look at the demand side. If it were not for all the Americans who want to use cocaine, we wouldn't have this problem. If we could attack the demand side, and I am not saying ignore the supply side, we ought to do it, all the helicopters and all of the troops and all of the intelligence in the world is not going to prevent this stuff from coming across our borders if the demand continues to escalate.

As of January 4, 2002, this document was also available online at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/useftp.cgi?IPaddress=162.140.64.21&filename=70998.wais
&directory=/diskb/wais/data/107_house_hearings

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