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Last Updated:7/7/05
Speech by Rep. Nita Lowey (R-New York), June 28, 2005

   Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

   I want to commend the gentleman for offering this amendment, and I certainly agree with his intent, which is to minimize United States investment in failed counternarcotics programs.

   For far too long, we have supported policies and funded programs in Colombia that simply do not work. Our counternarcotics programs in Colombia have long been an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.

   The data we have from the National Drug Intelligence Center at the Department of Justice with respect to the success of this program is negative. It shows that the program has not decreased the amount of cocaine coming into the United States. In fact, the quantity of cocaine on our streets is increasing, and the price is decreasing, making it all the more affordable and attractive to our youth.

   The billions that we have put into Plan Colombia have not been effective in substantially decreasing the amount of coca being grown in Colombia either. After spending over $4 billion and spending nearly 6 years, have we even cut coca production in half? No. We have decreased by less than 7 percent the number of hectares of coca in Colombia.

   It is becoming even more difficult and costly to eliminate each hectare of coca. The U.N., whose own surveys found a small decrease in Colombian coca in 2004, found that for every acre of coca reduced in 2004, 22.8 acres of coca had to be sprayed. This ratio has never been so high.

   U.N. statistics indicate that the overall amount of coca grown in the Andes increased by 3 percent last year, led by substantial increases in Bolivia, 17 percent; Peru, 14 percent.

   Finally, the failure of this program to solve the problem of coca production is all the more compounded by the heavy toll it imposes on the rural communities in Colombia that are already suffering from armed conflict. Continuing to fund it at such a high level is simply bad policy.

   I am troubled by the fact that this amendment cuts $100 million from the foreign operations bill without adding it back for one of the many programs that could use it. The allocation with which the gentleman from Arizona (Chairman Kolbe) and I had to contend is already $2.5 billion short of the President's request; and with the increased needs we face around the world, to combat the HIV/AIDS virus and other diseases, fight hunger, improve child health and education, and promote peace and security in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe, I am concerned that this amendment further reduces our funding in the bill.

   Again, I support the gentleman for raising these important issues, and I thank him for all the time he has spent really understanding the issue, working on the issue and trying to stress how useless this funding really is in making a dent in the coca operation.

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