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Last Updated:7/7/05
Speech by Rep. Sam Farr (D-California), June 28, 2005

   Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Farr).

   Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I rise with a great deal of concern about Colombia and in support of this amendment, because I think the facts I have heard here on the floor just misconstrue what is really going on down there.

   We need to wake up and smell the coffee. The debate here should be about improving sales of Colombian coffee, not about the increased sales of Colombian coca. What was Plan Colombia has now become Plan K Street. What was supposed to help Colombians help themselves has now become Help American Corporations Stay in Business in Colombia. What should be money to eradicate the poverty that drives drugs in the first place has become a program to give Dyna Corporation $80 million, to give 16 U.S. contractors money to maintain Colombian helicopters and money to U.S. firms to own and fly the eradication aircraft. This is not about Plan Colombia anymore. This is about Plan K Street. Lockheed Martin got $9 million.

   Congress Members here travel to Colombia almost monthly on what I have now called the Narcotourism Tour that American Congressmen like to have. They come home thinking that they have seen the problems in Colombia and that all we need to do is give more money. I am all for a real Plan Colombia, a plan that invests in Colombia, that lets Colombians do the jobs that Americans should be working themselves out of. For 5 years the same companies are doing the same things they have been doing; 5 years without

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the Colombians owning those companies, without the Colombians doing that work.

   It is time that we make a statement. Cut this $100 million, put it into alternative development, do something that helps Colombians help themselves so that we do not have to keep American corporations on the handout from American Congress Members to keep their businesses going in the guise of trying to eradicate drugs in Colombia. It is time to stop.

[Begin Insert]

   Mr. Chairman, it doesn't take an inside-the-beltway policy work to understand that the current policy towards Colombia is broken.

   My district on the Central Coast of California is filled with compassionate people who closely follow US foreign policy towards our southern neighbors and they recognize that our current policy towards Colombia is broken.

   They are well aware that only eradicating a farmer's crops and not providing for alternative livelihoods is not a sustainable solution to the coca growing problem in the Andean region.

   US assistance to Colombia is reflective of this flawed policy: 80 percent of funds have gone for military assistance and been eaten up by coca eradication.

   Only 20 percent of funds have gone to social and economic programs. These programs are what build local economies and communities and provide alternatives to coca production.

   This distribution of assistance is not a recipe for permanent coca eradication. It's not a recipe for peace. It's a recipe for disaster.

   And that disaster is reflected in the Administration's own figures for coca production. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy statistics for 2004 show that, despite a record number of crops sprayed in Colombia, data shows that coca production remains ``statistically unchanged'' and the US street prices of cocaine and heroin are at or near all-time lows.

   I'd like to quote a constituent and friend of mine, Bert Muhly, who has traveled extensively throughout Latin America for decades and has been a tireless advocate for the downtrodden throughout the Western Hemisphere.

   Bert correctly states:

   ``Plan Colombia must be abandoned in favor of a Plan for Peace where the billions our government spends on shoring up the military establishment of countries of Latin America that are used to suppress the hopes of their people is diverted to programs that will alleviate poverty and give hope to the people within those countries.''

   I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia in the 1960s and have visited Colombia many times since then. I have seen first hand that Colombians are resilient and bright people who desperately want peace.

   Yet U.S. assistance and the Colombian government have not laid the ground work for peace.

   The Colombian government has failed to focus on creating a rural development strategy to address the underlying causes of poverty.

   With such a lop-sided policy that fails to invest in the innate capabilities of rural Colombians so that they can build a life for themselves that doesn't involve coca production, I am sad that my adopted country will remain stuck in this quagmire of civil war.

   House rules prevent the $100 million from the McGovern-Moore-McCollum amendment to be reallocated to alternative development, which would be my preference. Absent that option, I strongly urge my colleagues to vote in support of this amendment which is a step in the right direction to encourage reform of U.S. policy in Colombia.

[End Insert]

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