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Last Updated:7/7/05
Speech by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-New York), June 28, 2005

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

[Page: H5311]

   Mr. Chairman, let me respond to the gentleman. I believe we need a balanced policy. And some of us tried in the Committee on International Relations and in the Committee on Appropriations to make some modest changes in support of increased alternative development aid, but we were shut down on even those modest changes. Maybe the gentleman did not listen to my statistics.

   Also, we have a critique of the letter of the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) that he sent to Members of Congress, and I think the gentleman would be interested to know that some of the figures that the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) has cited we believe are totally inaccurate.

   Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Meeks).


[Time: 17:30]

   Mr. MEEKS of New York. Mr. Chairman, I am rising in support of this amendment partly because my colleagues on the other side of the aisle refuse to include reasonable amendments that direct or redirect funds to help the most in need in Colombia. In fact, they refuse to move on to a more balanced policy on Colombia.

   For example, Afro-Colombians comprise approximately 26 percent of Colombia's total population. Nevertheless, they are overrepresented amongst the poorest of the poor. Eighty-two percent of this disadvantaged minority lack even basic public services.

   There are problems with this bill, and we should not continue to throw good money after bad. Plan Colombia had 5 or 6 years to prove itself, and what it has proven is that the plan has caused more harm than good. Eighty percent of U.S. assistance to Colombia goes to the military and police. We need a more balanced policy on Colombia.

   Plan Colombia's aerial fumigation strategy has forced coca growers not to stop growing but to move their coca crops further west and north to Afro-Colombian and indigenous territories. Fumigation is ruining food crops, animals and livestock, while threatening the health and environment of Afro-Colombians, especially in the department of Choco.

   In 2002, only two municipalities in the department of Choco registered some sort of coca crops. Today, all 31 municipalities in that region have coca crops. Plan Colombia is destroying the traditional cultures of Afro-Colombians and their communities while providing little or no alternative development aid.

   Furthermore, a primary U.S. objective for Plan Colombia has been to prevent the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. In my district in southeastern Queens, New York, and on the streets of the United States of America, cocaine remains available today and at lower prices than ever and the levels of use are stable, if not rising.

   Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, and I ask my colleagues in conference to support alternative development and social programs that work and can make our policy in Colombia more balanced and thereby giving the American people a better bang for their buck in Colombia.

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