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

   Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

   Mr. Chairman, I just want to respond to the gentleman who just spoke. Maybe he has not been reading the newspapers but the Colombian government just passed an amnesty law that gives narco-traffickers and the paramilitaries and people who have been guilty of crimes against humanity a get-out-of-jail-free card. That is one of the reasons why I am here today expressing my outrage.

   Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Honda).

   Mr. HONDA. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of the McGovern-McCollum-Moore amendment to H.R. 3057, the Foreign Operations bill for FY 2006. This amendment recognizes the critical problems that need to be addressed in Colombia.

   Six years ago, Plan Colombia was implemented with the goal of reducing the flow of cocaine into the United States and to improve respect for human rights and the rule of law in Colombia. Based on the administration's own target indicators and data, the drug eradication effort in Colombia has been an across-the-board failure.

   Plan Colombia has not significantly deterred coca cultivation, curbed cocaine availability, forced price increases or reduced cocaine use.

   After 6 years and an investment of more than $4 billion in taxpayer dollars, net coca cultivation in Colombia is only 7 percent below the 1990 level. The total area under coca cultivation is estimated to be 36 percent higher than in 2000. Furthermore, reports indicate that cocaine remains readily available on the U.S. streets. The cocaine and heroine problems in the United States are more acute today than they were 6 years ago with lower prices, higher drug purity, and increased usage.

   Tragically, what we have seen in the past 6 years is an increase of human rights abuses, including violations by the army, unchecked government collusion with abusive paramilitary forces and violence against trade union members. We cannot be seen as condoning the ongoing human rights abuses in Colombia. We must be seen the world over as defending human rights. By supporting the McGovern amendment, we would be sending a strong signal to the international community that, yes, the United States does indeed value human rights.

   For genuine, lasting and positive changes in Colombia, the Colombian government and Colombian people must take an active role in initiating and sustaining those changes.

   Plan Colombia is not working and given the inexcusable ongoing human rights violations and military abuses in Colombia, reducing the allocation for Plan Colombia by $100 million is not only the responsible thing to do with taxpayer dollars, it underscores our Nation's standing as an advocate of human rights. Vote yes on the McGovern amendment.

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