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Last Updated:7/7/05
Statement by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), June 28, 2005

   Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Chairman, today I rise in support of the McGovern, McCollum and Moore Amendment to the FY06 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that will reduce counter-narcotics and military funding to Colombia by $100 million. The U.S./Colombia campaign against drugs and terrorism is not working. Not only have efforts to reduce the production of cocaine in Colombia not been effective, funds from the program that should have been used to fight terrorism are instead being used by paramilitary groups to commit human rights abuses.

   The U.S. has invested billions of dollars into Plan Colombia and successive programs since passing the FY 2000 budget. The Bush administration wants to continue this misguided policy with a request for $734 million in the FY06 Foreign Operations Appropriations request for the Andean Counter-drug Initiative.

   One of the main objectives of Plan Colombia has been to prevent the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. At the center of this effort has been the aerial spraying of herbicides on Colombia's coca crops. But U.S. and UN reports confirm that aerial spraying has not produced any appreciable reduction in coca production. In fact, cocaine production in Colombia may even have increased. According to the UN, 62 percent of Colombian coca fields detected in 2004 were new!

   The lack of any appreciable reduction in production combined with an increase in production in countries such as Bolivia and Peru

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has actually led to an increase of supply on the global market and a decrease in the cost of cocaine in the United States.

   Mr. Chairman, I am also troubled by reports in the news that recently the Colombian Congress, while approving a law governing the disarmament of its country's death squads, at the same time, granted generous concessions to paramilitary commanders accused of human rights abuses. I am concerned that U.S. assistance is being used by Colombian security forces that operate in conjunction with paramilitary forces targeting social leaders with threats, disappearance, and execution. The U.S. should not provide assistance to governments that refuse to hold perpetrators accountable for human rights abuses.

   Mr. Chairman, until I am convinced that the funds to Colombia are fixing the problem instead of making it worse, I cannot support full funding for aid to Colombia. That is why I support the McGovern, McCollum, Moore Amendment.

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