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Last Updated:7/7/05
Speech by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), June 28, 2005

Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I want to assure the gentleman I have been to Colombia several times and have gone well beyond the areas that the embassy has recommended me to go, and I assure the gentleman things are quite bad.

   Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from Minnesota (Ms. McCollum), the cosponsor of this amendment.

   Ms. McCOLLUM of Minnesota. Mr. Chairman, the McGovern amendment to cut $100 million from Plan Colombia is about accountability and sending the message that cutting deals with narcotic traffickers who pose as politicians will not be tolerated by the American taxpayer.

   After 6 years and over $400 billion, Plan Colombia is not reducing the supply of cocaine on our streets. But it has succeeded in making cocaine in America cheaper, more available, and more potent than ever before.

   The drug war in Colombia is failing, failing the people of Colombia and the American taxpayer. Spending another $735 million to stay the wrong course and to continue to finance failure is irresponsible.

   Let us send a message to Colombia that there are no more blank checks in the American taxpayers' checkbook.

   Unfortunately, Plan Colombia has not made the Colombian people safer. More than 2 million Colombians have been forced to flee their homes. Ninety percent of the violent crime, murders, and rapes go unpunished. Human rights abuses among Colombia's military and law enforcement are all too common.

   These are deeply disturbing trends: cheaper cocaine on American streets, millions of innocent people fleeing for their lives, lawlessness. This is hardly what we would call good governance.

   In return for the narcoterrorism and corruption, the American taxpayers are being asked to reward the Colombian Government.

   Now, a law passed by Colombia's congress and supported by President Uribe provides immunity and protection for right wing death squads and narcoterrorists.

   For ending their participation in death squads, Colombia will be giving virtual immunity and protection from extradition to narcotraffickers, many who are sought by the United States.

   One paramilitary death squad, the AUC, earns 70 percent of its income from narcotics trafficking. And the AUC is listed as an official terrorist organization by the U.S. Government.

   The AUC's leader, Diego Murillo, is described as a brutal paramilitarian warlord who made a fortune in the drug trade. Under the plan for disarmament supported by our allies in Bogota, Murillo and terrorists like him who have committed massacres, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and murders of elected officials received freedom from prosecution. They get to keep their possession of riches.

   In Colombia, if crime pays, if drug trafficking pays and terrorism pays, let us not have the American taxpayer pay for it. Congress needs to cut funding to Plan Colombia and save the American taxpayers $100 million and send a message that Colombia cannot protect narcoterrorists with our tax dollars.

   I strongly urge my colleagues to support the McGovern amendment.

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