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
Speech by Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Illinois), March 29, 2000
Ms. 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 result?

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 this aid?

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 bill.

As of March 30, 2000, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H29MR0-173:

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