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Last Updated:7/7/05
Speech by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Virginia), June 28, 2005

  

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Tom Davis).

   (Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

   Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to any attempts to cut funding for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative. I think this is a time to reaffirm, not dismantle, our commitment to this program, to the people of Colombia and to American citizens who want illegal drugs off their streets.

   How can we cut funding when we are seeing tremendous results in illegal crop eradication? Coca cultivation in Colombia has been reduced by 33 percent since 2002, and opium poppy cultivation dropped 52 percent in 2004 alone.

   As a result of ACI funding, we have seen unprecedented levels of drug interdiction. And interdiction is what this amendment goes to, cutting $100 million.

   From January to May of this year, 71.7 metric tons were seized from traffickers and destroyed before reaching our neighborhoods. Each week brings news of new seizures of cocaine and heroin, interdictions that are usually the result of U.S. supplied intelligence.

   In fact, just last month, Colombian authorities seized 13.8 tons of cocaine worth about $350 million in what was one of the largest drug busts in history. Interdiction efforts like these would not be possible if the gentleman's amendment passes.

   The Colombian Government is reestablishing state presence in areas where the country has lacked it for a century. Criminals who have remained at bay for years are being captured and extradited to the U.S. for prosecution. Colombia has extradited 271 Colombian citizens to the United States since August of 2002, mostly on narcotics related charges.

   How do we justify pulling the plug on ACI funding when we are seeing record numbers of extraditions to the U.S. of FARC and drug cartel members?

   In 2004 alone, more than 11,000 narcoterrorists were captured. More than 7,000 terrorists have deserted their organizations since President Uribe took office. Thousands of weapons and rounds of ammunition have been surrendered. The demobilization and reincorporation of illegal armed groups are part of a process that is providing stability to the entire region.

   Colombians are finally beginning to feel safer. The murder rate dropped 14 percent in 2004. It has dropped 25 percent thus far this year.

   Plan Colombia is working. I have been down there several times. I have seen firsthand just a month ago the devastation that drug production and trafficking has on that country. But to those who question our investment, I would ask them to visit Colombian soldiers who have lost their limbs or their eyesight or sustained permanent disabilities in their battle to return peace to their nation and keep drugs off American streets.

   On a recent trip, we accompanied Colombian National Police to a manual eradication site in the mountains and helped them pull the coca crop from mountainous terrain that helicopters cannot reach. These are dedicated people giving up their lives to destroy the drug trade and rid their country of drugs and violence and prevent their illegal importation to the United States.

   Our travels have shown how critical U.S. assistance is to their government. Of course it is not all rosy and a lot of obstacles remain. But the Uribe administration is committed to this war.

   I ask, Mr. Chairman, that now is the time not to turn our backs on the progress we are making. We cannot win this war on drug-supported terrorism without the proper tools.

   I urge a ``no'' vote on the McGovern amendment.

As of July 7, 2005 this page was also available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/R?r109:FLD001:H05308

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