by Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minnesota), March 21, 2000
SAY NO TO FUNDS FOR COLOMBIA (House of Representatives - March 21, 2000)
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr.
Pease). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Minnesota
(Mr. Ramstad) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. RAMSTAD. Mr. Speaker,
we are about to spend almost $2 billion to escalate the war on drugs in
Colombia, while here in the United States 26 million American addicts
and alcoholics go untreated.
We have already spent over
$600 million to eradicate drugs at their source in Colombia. And what
has happened? Both cocaine and heroin production in Colombia have more
Colombia is now the source
of 80 percent of the cocaine and 75 percent of the heroin in the United
States. Let us face it, our supply-side efforts have been a colossal failure.
Congress and the President
need to wake up and face reality. Over the last 10 years, Mr. Speaker,
the Federal Government has spent $150 billion to combat the supply of
illegal drugs. Yet the cocaine market is glutted, as always, and heroin
is readily available at record high purities. The number of hard-core
addicts continues to increase every day.
Our drug eradication and interdiction
efforts have also been a costly failure. As a former United States Navy
Commander who led such efforts in Colombia for 3 years said recently,
quote, `The $1.7 billion being proposed on drug-fighting efforts in Colombia
is good money thrown after bad.'
Retired Navy Lieutenant Commander
Sylvester Salcedo also said, and I am quoting again, `We cannot make any
progress on this drug issue by escalating our presence in Colombia. Instead,
we should confront the issue of demand in the United States by providing
treatment services to our addicted population.'
Mr. Speaker, we need to listen
to this veteran of the war on drugs who added, `Washington should spend
its money not on helicopters and trainers but on treatment for addicts.'
The $400 million cost of helicopters
alone for Colombia would provide treatment for 200,000 Americans addicted
Mr. Speaker, this is crazy.
This is wrong. We are about to spend $2 billion on Colombia for drug eradication
and interdiction while most of the 26 million addicts and alcoholics in
the United States are unable to access treatment. We are about to spend
$2 billion on Colombia even though treatment has been proven to be 23
times more cost effective than eradication of crops and 11 times more
cost effective than interdiction.
When will Congress and the
President wake up to the basic fact that our Nation's supply-side strategy
does not attack the underlying problem of addiction? It is the addiction
that causes people to crave and demand drugs.
When President Richard Nixon
declared war on drugs in 1971, he directed 60 percent of the funding to
treatment. Now we are down to 18 percent of the funding for treatment.
That is a big reason, Mr. Speaker, that fully one half of the treatment
beds are gone that were available here in America 10 years ago. The other
reason is that we allow insurance companies to discriminate against the
disease of addiction by limiting access to treatment.
Mr. Speaker, this is a defining
moment in the 30-year effort to curb illegal drug use in the United States.
We can keep pumping money into that supply-side cesspool or we can shift
our focus to the drug addiction problem here at home. We will never stop
the drug epidemic unless we cut off the insatiable demand for drugs in
It is time to reject the $2
billion for the failed policy in Colombia. It is time to redirect those
resources to providing access to drug treatment here at home.
Mr. Speaker, the American
people literally, literally, cannot afford to wait any longer for Congress
to get real about addiction in America, the number one public health and
public safety problem in our Nation.
I hope and pray my fellow
colleagues will just say no to funds for Colombia.
As of March 22, 2000, this document
is also available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H21MR0-174: