by Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Illinois), March 29, 2000
SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
(Ms. SCHAKOWSKY asked and
was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Chairman,
during committee hearings on the Colombia aid package, I raised serious
questions about what has been posed as mostly a counter-narcotics effort.
Unfortunately, those questions have not been answered. That is why I am
going to raise them again here today.
Why are we taking action to
invest in a militaristic drug war that has the potential for escalating
regional conflict in the name of fighting drugs instead of doing what
we need to do, putting more money here at home, and attack the problem
here with at least as much vigor?
Considering the demonstrated
failure of militarized eradication efforts to date, why should we believe
that investing more money in this type of plan will achieve a different
According to the General Accounting
Office, despite U.S. expenditures of $625 million in counter-narcotics
efforts in Colombia between 1990 and 1998, Colombia surpassed Peru and
Bolivia to become the world's largest coca producer. Colombia is already
the third largest recipient of our foreign aid in the whole world, and
there has been no net reduction in coca production in Colombia or cocaine
availability in the United States.
All of the heroin the United
States consumes can be grown on just 50 square miles. An entire year's
supply can fit into one cargo plane. Yet, the rebels in Colombia and the
paramilitaries already control an area the size of my home State of Illinois.
What makes us think that this amount of money, this effort, is going to
do anything to seriously reduce the supply?
According to the United Nations,
profits from illicit drugs are so high that three-fourths of all drug
shipments would have to be intercepted to seriously reduce the profitability
of the business.
Why are we focusing exclusively
on the rebels when we know that the paramilitaries in Colombia are involved
in the drug traffic, and that they are the ones who are responsible for
70 percent of the human rights abuses and civilian murders in that country?
Why are we ignoring the proven drug control strategies that focus on prevention,
treatment, and education?
I know that my colleagues
have pointed out that we are spending money on that, but we also know
that that is the effective way to address the problem. We should be doing
more. If we are so serious about reducing drug use, then why is 63 percent
of the need for drug treatment unmet in the United States, according to
the substance abuse and mental health services administration?
I think we need to question
if this really is a counter-narcotics operation, or is it a counterinsurgency
operation? Could it be more about purchasing helicopters than protecting
our children? What exactly is our mission? What will it take to achieve
total victory in Colombia? Are we prepared to make that type of investment
in dollars and in lives? How many lives? If not, what is the purpose of
It seems to me if we really
want to address the drug problem, we should be here today discussing the
original Pelosi amendment, which was not able to be considered, which
was an aggressive, ambitious approach to increased domestic spending on
drug prevention, treatment, and education, not a massive, militaristic
care package for a military with the worst record of human rights abuses
in this hemisphere.
I believe that this aid package
for Colombia is a misguided, dangerous, and irresponsible approach. I
urge my colleagues to vote in support of the Pelosi amendment, and I would
also urge support for the Ramstad and Campbell amendment and against this
As of March 30, 2000, this
document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H29MR0-173: