This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Home
|
Analyses
|
Aid
|
|
|
News
|
|
|
|
Last Updated:3/31/00
Letter from Rep. Thomas Lantos (D-California), March 28, 2000
U.S. CONGRESS,

House of Representatives,
Washington, DC, March 28, 2000.

Re: Support Assistance to Colombia

Dear Colleague: I am writing to urge your support for the Administration's proposed assistance package for Colombia in the Supplemental Appropriations bill. Colombia's President Pastrana has taken bold action in his effort to deal with the country's drug production and its civil conflict. He has requested the assistance and the Administration has proposed that we provide it. President Pastrana is a friend of the U.S., he is taking action to our country's benefit, and we should provide that aid.

Helping Colombia is in our fundamental national interest. The scourge of drugs is tearing at the fabric of our society, and Colombia is ground zero in the fight against drugs: More than 80% of the cocaine and much of the heroin that arrives on our shores comes from or through Colombia. Colombia is also a key regional state. It borders five other South and Central American countries, whose 40 million citizens face serious social, economic, and national security challenges.

With Plan Colombia, President Pastrana has proposed a bold agenda for addressing his country's inter-related challenges of drug-trafficking, weak state institutions and a faltering economy. The Government of Colombia estimates that $7.8 billion will be needed over the next three years to reverse the country's role as the hemisphere hub for drugs, rebuild its economy, and strengthen its democratic institutions. The government had committed $4.5 billion to the Plan--including $900 million in credits from international financial institutions--and President Pastrana is asking the international community for $3.3 billion in foreign assistance, of which the Administration has proposed that we provide $1.6 billion.

The Administration's initiative is a balanced and integrated approach that will help Colombia fight the drug trade, foster peace, institute judicial reform, promote the rule of law, improve human rights, assist the internally displaced, and expand economic development.

I know that some Members have reservations about human rights conditions in Colombia, and I have been critical of Colombia's human rights record. But this package is geared to improve the conditions that have led to poor human rights. For example, all assistance that is provided to Colombia's forces will go to fully-vetted units. The military units trained by the United States will not clash with insurgents or para-militaries, unless these elements directly support illicit drug cultivation and production. Indeed, the cornerstone of President Pastrana's administration is the search for a negotiated peace with Colombia's various insurgent groups. I welcome the Administration's statements that Colombia's insurgency problem must ultimately be resolved through negotiation, and not military action, and this view will guide the United States approach to implementing this assistance package.

To help stanch the flow of drugs to the U.S., to help a key neighbor and to help preserve stability in our hemisphere, I urge you to join me in supporting the Colombia assistance package.

Most Cordially,

Tom Lantos,
Member of Congress.

Google
Search WWW Search ciponline.org

Asia
|
Colombia
|
|
Financial Flows
|
National Security
|

Center for International Policy
1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Suite 801
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 232-3317 / fax (202) 232-3440
cip@ciponline.org