This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Home
|
Analyses
|
Aid
|
|
|
News
|
|
|
|
Last Updated:5/17/01
On-the-Record Briefing with several administration officials on Andean Regional Initiative, May 16, 2001
On-the-Record Briefing: Andean Regional Initiative

R. Rand Beers, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs ; William R. Brownfield, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Michael Deal, Acting Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, USAID
On-the-Record Briefing: Andean Regional Initiative
Washington, DC
May 16, 2001


MR. HUNTER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We would like to welcome you to the State Department briefing room this afternoon for today's briefing on the Andean Regional Initiative. We have with us today to brief you Rand Beers, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; Bill Brownfield, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; and from the Agency for International Development, Michael Deal, who is the Acting Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs.

I know a number of you here today were with us in March for our briefing on U.S. Assistance to Colombia. Today's briefing is a natural extension of that particular briefing since our efforts in counternarcotics can't be seen in isolation, either regionally or in terms of their impact on economic development and the strengthening of institutions.

And so Mr. Brownfield will now give you a brief overview of the status of the initiative, and we'll then hear from our other briefers and turn it over to you for your questions. And now, Bill Brownfield.

MR. BROWNFIELD: Thanks very much, and good afternoon. I think you've heard of the names and the identities of the three of us who will actually come up here and do a very brief presentation before we throw it open to questions by all of you. May I let you know as well, however, that we have even a larger battalion of knowledge and resource with us and with you this afternoon.

Also represented off to my right is Mr. Bob Brown of ONDCP and representatives from the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Between the seven or eight of us, there is so much knowledge of U.S. policy and programs in the Andean region that the air positively crackles with kinetic energy this afternoon. If anyone were to throw a match up here, it would probably explode.

May I invite you to take a look at what I hope is the press kit that you have all received, and if you have not received it, that I hope you will receive in the course of the next hour. In it is a great deal of fascinating material, some of which you have already seen before. I do want to draw your attention to three documents that I believe are new and fairly important. One is a document entitled, "U.S. Policy Toward the Andean Region." This is at least an attempt at a strategy document laying out what we propose to talk about in somewhat greater detail over the next 10 to 15 minutes. There is, as well, a one-page fact sheet entitled, "The Andean Regional Initiative," and a one-page budget summary that attempts to lay out in table form a set of budget figures for six different budgeting accounts and seven different countries. More on that in just a moment.

In the fall of 1999, as all of you presumably know, the Government of Colombia developed a concept known as Plan Colombia, which has nothing to do with the alarm that we now hear going off behind us, but was rather an attempt by the Government of Colombia to develop a strategy to address three basic crises that they were confronting at that time -- an economic crisis, a security crisis, and a drug crisis.

The United States response to and support for that effort was approved by Congress in July of the year 2000. This was the U.S. initiative in support of Colombia, or Plan Colombia. It had, as you may recall, six basic elements to it: a push into southern Colombia, support for interdiction efforts, support for the Colombian National Police, support for institutional reform, alternative development, and finally support for the region.

In the course of the last year we have received a number of comments, and in very rare occasions perhaps even criticism, from several constituencies in the United States, some elements of the United States Congress, and even -- rare though it might be -- from some members of the media and the press. Their comments tended to focus on two specific areas, albeit in different ways. One comment was that the U.S. response appeared to focus too much on security and law enforcement issues, to the expense of social and economic developmental issues; and, second, that the U.S. response seemed overly focused on Colombia, ignoring the risk of spillover or the risk of the Colombian crises migrating into other countries of the region.

On the 14th of April, the President of the United States rolled out at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec, Canada, the gist -- the structure, at least -- of the United States’ proposed Andean Regional Initiative of the year 2001.

What the President introduced and what we are going to offer much greater detail to you this afternoon is a proposal for $882.29 million of assistance provided from the Function 150 Account. This is the account which funds the State Department and USAID's foreign assistance programs.

Unlike last year, in which there was a single consolidated emergency supplemental passed to support Colombia, this year the proposal is to package six different funding lines into one proposal, although the appropriations would be appropriated in their regular funding channels of ESF, development assistance, child survival and disease, international narcotics control and FMF.

In short, what I am suggesting to you is that unlike last year, where there was a single consolidated bill in which you could find all of the President's proposed funding for the Colombia supplemental last year, this year you will have to find them in five different line items.

The proposal is to provide comprehensive and coordinated assistance to seven different countries: the five countries that we traditionally associate with the Andean region -- Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela -- as well as Brazil and Panama, to the extent that those countries are affected by spillover from some of the Andean Ridge and Andean regional problems or crises.

We are not suggesting that all of Brazil or Panama should be treated as part of the Andean region. We are suggesting that some of the crises that affect the Andean region do spill over into Brazil and into Panama.

We heard all of the criticism and comments of the past year, and most particularly the very helpful comments from the media in terms of the difficulties with last year's presentation. Therefore I am pleased to report that unlike last year, whose supplemental assistance package was heavily focused on Colombia, this year's Andean Regional Initiative breaks down to about 45 percent of its assistance proposed for Colombia, 55 percent for the remainder of the region.

Unlike last year's package, which was heavily focused on law enforcement and security assistance, this year's package breaks out about 50/50 between law enforcement and security assistance on the one hand, and social and economic development and institutional reform on the other.

Prior to presenting this proposed budget to the United States Congress, we did engage in consultations with the seven governments of the Andean Regional Initiative, with European and other potential donors, who we would hope would also take a positive approach to support for this region, and obviously, not being completely stupid, we pre-consulted with Members of Congress and their staffs before rolling this proposal up to Congress.

The President's proposal is before Congress right now, and I presume I am betraying no secrets when I say we very much hope Congress will support and pass the President's initiative.

That is the overview. May I suggest we might spend another productive couple of minutes hearing first from Assistant Secretary Beers, and then from Acting Assistant Administrator Deal.

ACTING SECRETARY BEERS: Thanks very much, Bill. I will be brief. What I want to focus on is the enforcement and security side of the INL budget request, and then turn over to Mike for the AID presentation.

What we are basically trying to do with the security and law enforcement side is to sustain and preempt; that is to sustain the effort that was begun under the Plan Colombia emergency supplemental appropriation and preempt the possibility of the transfer of some of the drug trafficking, cultivation or institutions to other countries.

In terms of Colombia, which will still be the largest program, on the enforcement side it will be $250-plus million. It is essentially a sustainment package. It is essentially an operations and maintenance budget. It is not an acquisition budget, as it was in Plan Colombia. It will provide assistance to both the police and the military.

With respect to Peru and Bolivia, Peru we will be requesting $77 million on the enforcement side, and in Bolivia 54 million. This will be an effort to sustain the existing programs, but to expand them beyond their regular levels. We will be attempting through this process, in coordination with these governments, to prevent a reverse flow.

As most of you are aware, the rise of the cocaine industry in Colombia is very much related to the decline of the cocaine industry in both Peru and Bolivia, and we don't want any success in Colombia to result in a reverse flow back to those countries. And in fact, we are concerned about it. This last year, for the first time in a number of years, we began to see a new growth in Peru in terms of coca cultivation. While the eradication effort there outstripped these new coca, it is a troubling feature of the drug environment there, and we want to ensure that it does not become a significant factor. There will be some major acquisitions here, or at least one, and that is we will be refurbishing some helicopters for the police in Peru in association with the eradication program.

With respect to Ecuador, we will be asking for $19 million in terms of enforcement activities. This will be to preempt any possibilities for cultivation to flow south into northern Ecuador, but to also work with the Ecuadorian police and military to reduce the narco-trafficking within the country, particularly along the northern border.

And finally, Brazil, Panama and Venezuela, we will be providing $15, $11 and $10 million, respectively. As Bill indicated, with respect to Brazil, this will be mostly focused on their western border where it abuts Colombia, but also the Peruvian and Bolivian borders, but principally the Colombian border. In terms of Panama, it will be to reinforce their law enforcement capabilities there, both maritime and land. And in Venezuela, it will be to reinforce their law enforcement capabilities there, with which we have had very good cooperation over the course of the last year.

Let me stop there in order that we can get to your questions and turn to Mr. Deal.

MR. DEAL: Thank you. I would like to just take a few minutes to describe and put into context the social and economic development part of the Andean Regional Initiative. The problems of drugs and violence will not be solved on a sustained basis unless the fundamental causes of these problems are also addressed; unless democratic institutions in the region become stronger, more responsive, more inclusive, and more transparent; unless the presence of the government, both the national and local level in rural areas, is better able to provide jobs and services to the rural poor and give them a stake in the future and improve the quality of life; unless the justice system becomes more accessible, becomes more efficient and reduces impunity; unless the human rights environment improves; unless the problem of widespread corruption is solved; and unless legal employment opportunities are created for the unemployed.

These are tough social issues, and they are going to take time. They are going to take a sustained commitment and continued U.S. Government assistance. USAID will manage 390 million of the proposed Fiscal Year 2002 funds under the initiative. By way of comparison, our level last year was $151 million. Our Andean program builds on many of our existing programs, but expands them somewhat in response to the changing circumstances in the region.

We expect to be working in three main areas: democracy, development and alternative development. The first major area that we're working in is strengthening democracy, and that includes a number of components. It includes administration of justice, which is basically to help make the justice system work; make it more modern and efficient, more transparent and more accessible. Part of the program provides access to justice for the poor through alternative dispute resolution, basically in the poorer neighborhoods of major cities. We're doing that now in Colombia and in Peru with very good results.

We have a program that is designed to help improve the observance of human rights. In Colombia, our activities are designed to help prevent killings through an early warning system, working with the human rights ombudsman and channeling information up the line to the military. We are working for increased observance of human rights in Peru as well.

We have programs designed to help strengthen local governments in the rural areas. This has been one of the greatest vacuums in these countries, and lack of state presence in rural areas. We are working with mayors, training mayors and council members in identifying projects, setting priorities, monitoring projects, handling financial resources in a more accountable, transparent way. It is a very important part of bringing democracy to these rural areas.

We also have programs in anti-corruption. We are helping Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to strengthen their ability to expose corrupt practices and investigate and prosecute corrupt officials.

The second major area that we're working on is development, namely economic growth and poverty alleviation. To reach the poor, we are working with micro-finance in Bolivia and Ecuador. We're working on banking reform and macroeconomic policy. Support for trade capacity development will be strengthened to help these countries develop WTO-consistent trade regimes. We will continue health programs in Peru and Bolivia, and we will pay specific attention to education, including an Andean regional center of excellence for our teacher training, as announced by the President in Quebec at the Summit of the Americas.

Protection of their natural resources, preserving their unique ecological diversity and helping rehabilitate environmental damage from illicit drug production will also receive attention.

The third main area, and over half of the resources in the initiative that will be managed by USAID involves alternative development. This is a concept that does work, as we have seen after a decade of work in Bolivia and Peru, a three-prong strategy of law enforcement, interdiction in alternative development was successful in dramatically reducing the coca cultivation in both of these countries.

Alternative development does work and it is an important essential element in that strategy. The concept involves -- is the same in all countries and it involves groups of small farmers, communities or farmer associations signing agreements with the government, agreeing to voluntarily eradicate 100 percent of their coca crop in exchange for a package of benefits both at the farmer level and at the community level: at the farmer level, to help them get involved in legal income-producing alternatives, and at the community level to provide basic infrastructures such as schools, health clinics, public water systems and rural roads.

It is important to note that there is nothing as economically profitable as coca. The incentive to get out of coca on a voluntary basis is not economic; it is the threat of involuntary eradication. There has to be a credible threat and a risk of continuing to stay in coca. In Colombia, we are seeing that the risk is credible, and farmers just in the past two or three months are lining up to sign these agreements.

In Peru and Bolivia we are concentrating on sustaining the dramatic advances made in these countries in coca eradication. We want to help these governments and these farmers to withstand the temptation to slide back under the shadow of narcotics production.

It is not going to be easy, and it is going to take a sustained long-term view on reforming institutions, strengthening institutions, and bringing about the kind of change in the social side that we are after through the AID programs.

Let me end by saying that the Andean Regional Initiative must be viewed as the national program in each of these countries responding to their priorities and problems. They are the ones that are going to have to make this work. Our role is one of facilitating the process, and we will be working along with them over the next several years in this effort.

Thanks.

Q:Can I ask a question, and this will be related to what you were just saying. I'm a little confused. I must be reading this -- these budget things wrong. But you just went through a whole host of social-type programs.

Where are these being funded? In the two charts we have, we have zero listed for economic and social programs for Colombia.

Q:(Inaudible.)

Q:Yes, but that's under INC. There is $146.5 -- what million -- listed on the green thing on -- but it's listed under economic and social programs, but it's listed under INC, and there is nothing for economic support funds, development assistance and child survival and disease.

So where is the money for these?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: That is a peculiarity in the INL budget process because we have functioned and are able and authorized to fund a large array of programs. The Colombia portion of those programs is funded entirely out of the INL budget. But I didn't talk about it because we transferred the money to AID essentially in order to execute the programs. So it makes more sense for the executor to actually talk about the programs. But it is INL money, and it is used for alternative development and other support features for our efforts in Colombia.

Q:Can you say how much of that there is? Or --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: The figures on the table? In terms of how much of it is going --

Q:Well, okay, why is it not the same in Bolivia, then?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: Because of the structure in Bolivia. Mike, come on back.

Q:I just don't understand why you have it listed under different things in one country --

Q:Or it's just some beaurocratic (inaudible) --

Q:Well, either that or they are trying to hide something.

MR. DEAL: No, of course we are not trying to hide something. You know better than that.

There was not an economic development program in Colombia other than what we have funded through INL, for a long period of time. And we began that process. We basically transferred the money to AID. Since we have always run that program in Colombia, it made no sense to take it out of the INL budget and fund it in the other.

All the other countries have programs that had already started in AID, and we had alternative development programs in some of them. So what we have done is taken all of the funding streams, bring everybody together in the room and sit down and say, all right, we are going to do this all together.

Now, when we did the supplemental budget, we didn't go back and pull the strings of all the programs that AID runs through the rest of Latin America. In this case, for these seven countries, we want to put it all together and make sure that it is all integrated and coordinated so that we are presenting both to you and to the Congress and to the countries that we want to work with an integrated package. And that is why it is that way. It is a budget anomaly.

Q:I have a question for Mr. Beers. Are you aware of the Satellite Study Commission by the Colombian Government in the United Nations, the results of which came out this week and which came to the conclusion that Colombia is in fact producing much more cocaine than you say on your bits of paper here? And how do you assess the reliability of this study?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: I am aware of it, only insofar as it has been reported in the press. With respect to it, insofar as I have been able to pull together information since the story began to run, we are not in a position at this point in time to specifically comment on the validity of the study, because we don't have the information of the methodology behind the study. This is not the first case in which other organizations or countries have attempted to estimate narcotic crop cultivation in a country.

When these situations occur, what we basically try to do is to be in contact with the investigating country or agency to understand the methodology behind their figures, indicate the methodology behind our own figures, and try to resolve those differences. The most pronounced case recently is Afghanistan, in which UNDCP ran an estimate that was quite different, in fact more widely different in Afghanistan than the difference between this particular estimate and our own.

We have, as a result of discussions and meetings, reduced that difference significantly over the course of the last year, and we will try to do that in the time ahead. I think it is fair to say, though, that that study, as our own indicates, that coca cultivation is still increasing in Colombia and our concerns there continue to exist. The comments that were drawn from the article, however, that this is an indication of a failure of the Colombian-U.S. effort to deal with cultivation, I think are premature conclusions. I can't tell you when the data for the study was derived, and therefore I can't tell you whether it precedes or post-dates the beginning of the U.S. effort there.

So those are issues and questions that we will have in the time ahead.

Q:Can you explain -- just a quick follow-up. Can you explain why you were not brought in on this when this is a study being commissioned by the Colombian Government and you are the largest single contributor to their anti-narcotics effort?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: We've been aware for some time that the Colombia Government was conducting an independent estimate, and UNDCP always conducts estimates which are independent of the United States. The results which you are reading now which preview the results are simply the output, and it's not done and we haven't had a chance to sit down and talk about it. But, yes, we were aware of it.

Q:I have a question for Mr. Beers and one for Mr. Brownfield. For Mr. Beers, the question is, how do you explain the surge in cultivation in Peru, and does what you're saying is an alarming development result from perhaps a need to -- or does it make more imperative the need to renew the air bridge shootdown policy that was in place before the missionary plane was destroyed?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: With respect to surge, please let me be precise. What we are talking about now are the estimate results from calendar year 2000, which indicated that there was a total eradication figure of 7,700 hectares and a total new cultivation increase of 3,200 hectares, leading to a net reduction of 4,500 hectares. That's not a surge; it is an alarming fact because we hadn't seen any new cultivation in the last several years. Surge is a little bit too strong.

With respect to the reestablishment of the air bridge denial program, as you are all well aware, I am also engaged in an effort to review the tragic incident that occurred on the 20th of April, and we have not completed that and I am not going to comment on that, so that no one else will ask me this question.

But with respect to your question, that is but one of the ways in which cocaine exits Peru at this time -- through air flights to Colombia, through overland transit to Bolivia, through sea transit out of Peru -- all are methods of trafficking. And I think it is fair to say that the traffickers who used to rely almost entirely upon the air bridge between Peru and Colombia no longer rely upon that as the predominant way of taking cocaine out of Peru.

Q:And for Mr. Brownfield, if I could. Sir, I wasn't quite sure if you were being facetious when you talked about responding to criticism from Congress and the press and perhaps reorienting the policy. I mean, are we witnesses a fundamental shift in U.S. drug policy away from a military buildup in Colombia and toward a different approach?

MR. BROWNFIELD: No, shockingly enough and rarely enough, I was not being facetious; I was actually -- it was one of those rare moments where I was being serious in terms of what this new initiative reflects. Now, I do allow myself one step back in terms of saying we did not necessarily agree with all of the criticism that was levied at the Colombia supplemental last year in terms of its being overly focused on Colombia or overly focused on law enforcement and security issues.

It was our belief all along -- as we stated publicly to the media, to Congress, and whenever we had the opportunity to speak on the record to larger groups -- that this was the first step in a multi-year effort to address these crises, these problems, these threats, and that the first step obviously was focused at the heart of the problem, which, it was our calculation in 1999 and the year 2000, the heart of the problem was Colombia. And our initial focus, or at least the heavy emphasis in the course of the first year, was to get the sort of big ticket physical items on the ground and in place that were essential in order to get started, if you will. That drove much of the so-called hard side of the equation and the imbalance in the numbers. Helicopters and other aircraft, just by the nature of things, cost a lot of money. That's the bad news. The good news is, once you have paid for them once, you don't have to pay for them again, and most of that cost, as Assistant Secretary Beers indicated, has already been taken care of in the first year.

What we see with the President's Andean Regional Initiative of this year for Fiscal Year 2002 funding is an effort that is, in fact, more balanced between the economic social development and institutional reform side and the law enforcement and security side. And this, in fact, is not only what we had been thinking all along, but, in fact, I submit is responsive to some of the comments that we have received over the last year of those who thought that our approach was both too focused on one country and too focused on the so-called hard side of the equation.

Q:A follow-up. Is there anything that you can say at this point you did wrong with the first -- with the supplemental? Anything that you think has gone wrong with Plan Colombia that this intends to remedy, if you could be a little more specific?

And then one of the main complaints has been that there is really nothing in the program to deal with the paramilitaries and their human rights abuses and trying to contain their spread and activities. Is there anything in this program that might address that?

MR. BROWNFIELD: Sure. Let me take those two thoughts in the order in which you offer them. I am not going to stand up here before you all and engage in self-flagellation, identifying what may have gone wrong with our approach in the course of the last year. I will say that in a more perfect world we obviously would have wanted to have provided a larger amount of support and assistance for other countries and other parts of the region in the course of last year. We didn't live in that perfect world. Our world was defined by the willingness of Members of Congress to devote the American taxpayers' money to this purpose. Our calculation at that time was there was a finite number beyond which we were probably not going to be able to develop political consensus and an appropriation, and it was our calculation at that time that if we had to start with a smaller package than what we would have wanted in a perfect world, the place to start was Colombia.

We also acknowledged -- and I believe to a certain extent we have taken some criticism for the speed -- the pace with which spillover was proceeding from Colombia to other countries. I would argue that some of that criticism -- I would argue that a lot of that criticism -- was exaggerated. Having said that, we do acknowledge that the Colombia threat, the Colombia cancer, if you will, of drugs and insurgencies and paramilitaries and economic problems that create trans-border movements of people and drugs and criminals and guerrillas, is, in fact, a problem that we will continue to deal with in the years ahead.

Paramilitaries. My argument, our argument, is that much of the assistance that we are providing to Colombia, in fact, helps the government of Colombia and the people of Colombia to address the root causes that have produced the paramilitary movement, not to mention, if I might add, the left-wing guerrilla insurgency movements. These were not created in a vacuum; they were created due to the economic and social and political and, to a certain extent, law enforcement and governmental conditions that existed in some parts of the country and have existed there long before Plan Colombia was created; for that matter, long before I entered the Foreign Service of the United States, maybe even long before I was born, although that's an awfully long time ago.

And our argument would be that as we attempt to address these economic and social conditions through economic and social development assistance, as we try to address these concerns about governmental institutions that do not work, or at least do not work well, what we are doing, in a sense, is denying the ground to paramilitary organizations or in directly to guerrilla organizations by which they support themselves. And to that extent, I would say that most, if not all, of our assistance, both in last year's Colombia supplemental and this year's proposed Andean Regional Initiative, as it relates to Colombia, would go to addressing the paramilitary problem.

Q:I have a couple of questions for a wide array of you. I guess for Assistant Secretary Beers, what percentage of these funds are going towards -- without getting into the whole Peru incident or anything like that, how much now of this plan relies on these intercept programs as part of the counternarcotics effort?

And I guess for Mr. Deal, or whoever wants to take this, is this Andean Initiative the sole amount of assistance towards social development and economic development towards these countries that they are getting, or is there -- are there other portions of social and economic development from other areas of assistance? Or is it just tied to the counternarcotics effort?

And if someone from the Human Rights Bureau is here, is this certification for Colombia for their human rights still in existence, and are you going to tie the aid to other countries on their attention and follow-through on commitments they made towards their human rights?

Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: Good move. Lots of questions.

In answer to your first question, as I indicated earlier, the mode of trafficking activity in Peru has changed since the beginning of the Air Bridge Denial Program, or its high point, I should say, in '95, '96 and '97. And as a result of that, the traffickers have a variety of ways of moving coca, which is not to say that the Air Bridge Denial Program is useless or meaningless but that it is not as significant in terms of dealing with trafficking in Peru as it was at one particular point in time.

Are we entirely dependent upon it? No. Is it an important program? Yes. Its status, by agreement between both governments now, is that it is in suspension. When the review is done, then we will have some more to say about that.

Q:So are you saying that you are kind of changing the way you look at these intercept programs, perhaps as the mode of trafficking has changed, that your intercept programs are changing as well?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: I wouldn't so much say as it is the intercept program itself that is changing as it is the balance of our support for counternarcotics activities change in response to changing trafficking patterns by the traffickers.

Q:Thank you.

MR. DEAL: On your resource question, the levels that we are including here, as Bill Brownfield mentioned earlier, come from several accounts. So for the social and economic development program, this does represent the entirety of our assistance program for these countries. It is composed of development assistance, child survival, economic support funds, as well as the INL funds for alternative development.

MR. BROWNFIELD: With two small caveats to what Mike has just said, which he will agree with. First, to the extent that there is PL 480 food assistance, that would not be incorporated in the Andean Regional Initiative.

And second, as relates to Panama, I believe there is some ESF that would be going to Panama that would not be treated as part of the Andean Regional Initiative. That gets back to my earlier point, where I noted we are not suggesting that all of Panama and all of Brazil are, if you will, Andean regional countries. We were suggesting that there are -- there is some spillover into those countries that this initiative is supposed to address.

Finally, in your long list of questions, you had also brought up the certification issue. I will tell you that at this stage, what the President has proposed to the United States Congress is a budget. It is a funding bill. We have suggested nothing other than a sum of money, $882.29 million, to be appropriated in five different appropriations accounts for seven different countries for a variety of specified purposes and programs.

What Congress will do with that, either in an authorization bill or an appropriations bill, obviously is up to Congress, and needless to say, we are willing to work with them on certification conditions or anything else that Congress might propose.

I would however close this question, certain of the support and concurrence of my DRL colleague seated to my right, that whatever Congress does, there is an annual Human Rights Report and process by which the human rights behavior of each of these seven countries is annually assessed and annually presented to Congress, to the press and to the American people, and for that matter, anyone in the world to assess. So there is certainly not an effort to try to conceal or dissemble.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: And we are also required by law not to transfer funds to people known to be human rights abusers, and to cease transferring funds if we discover after we have begun the process that they are in fact so. So we have those requirements specific for all assistance that we follow.

Q:But is there a concern -- if I just might follow up very quickly -- is there a concern, though, that as you help these countries increase their law enforcement capability, that they might go along the roads of some of the problems that you have had with Colombia, that the crackdown was in fact affecting human rights in the countries?

MR. BROWNFIELD: I think our concern for human rights, monitoring, tracking and supporting respect for human rights, I mean, will remain consistent. We will have -- any assistance that we provide to any of these seven countries will be held to the same standards of in-use monitoring, to the same standards of our observation and participation in the use of these funds, to the same process by which the funds are transferred under memoranda of understanding or memorandas of agreement that will have written into them precisely the conditions which we have tried to represent as representing fundamental U.S. and American values over the last 200 and-some-odd years.

Q:Thank you.

Q:I have a question for Mr. Beers. You trace the Venezuelan cooperation. In fact, your text says that they are cooperating aggressively. What are they doing now that they weren't doing a year ago when you criticized them for denying overflights?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: I'm making the distinction between overflights and other law enforcement cooperation. The other law enforcement cooperation, cooperation with our drug enforcement administration and other U.S. law enforcement agencies carrying out investigations, cases, arrests and seizures of drug traffickers has been good over this timeframe, and that is what I was drawing attention to, which was the basis of our annual certification of Venezuela in March.

Q:Yes. I'm trying to get a picture of the big war on the narcotics, and what it tells me is that after 10 years of war we have a lot more production than we had in the beginning; we have much more eradication than we had at the beginning; we still have a rising consumption of the drug, especially the cocaine; we have a higher purity of the cocaine; and also it is easier for anybody in the States to find cocaine in the streets. But there is also something that tells me that goes wrong, and it is the price of the drugs in the streets in the States. Prices are going down.

So with this picture, how do we think that this is a successful strategy after all?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: Let Bob Brown and I take an effort to respond.

Firstly, with respect to the point about 10 years of effort in rising cultivation, that is not the case. The figures, if you look at them in the chart, while I am not claiming a huge decrease, there is a modest decrease that started in 1995, and only in 2000 did it slightly rise. The success in Peru and Bolivia was greater than the increase in Colombia during that timeframe. That is the first point.

Secondly, we have never had access to this level of resources to deal with this particular problem until the last several years, and in particular the peak here of the Plan Colombia supplemental.

I'll let Bob talk to the issue of consumption, particularly in the U.S., but not just in the U.S.

MR. BROWN: It would be my pleasure, Randy. Thank you. Bob Brown again from our Drug Policy Office, ONDCP.

Drug demand in the United States, broad picture chronologically. Early '80s we had 12 percent of our population as frequent drug users, 20-some million people. More recently here in the last calendar year or so, that is six percent of our population, 12-plus million drug users. Fifty percent reduction in overall drug use in the United States.

With regard to specifically, if I heard all of your question to cocaine, that reduction in number of drug users is around 70 percent. Essentially, most all of the casual use of cocaine has dissipated.

That still leaves us -- because that's perhaps an unfair rosy picture -- but it's the broad picture, and I make a positive broad picture -- it nonetheless leaves us with 3-plus million hard-core cocaine addicts, spending 30-some billion dollars a year to retail level on cocaine, at substantial social cost to our country in terms of lost productivity, hospitalization, other medical costs, victim costs, carceration and so forth.

So that may have been overly broad, if I -- I didn't hear all the question, but I think in general, drug use in the United States is a broad, positive story. It still leaves us today with unacceptable costs. I think you saw or heard the President last Thursday, as he nominated Mr. Walters to be the next -- my next boss, the next Director of ONDCP, emphasize the continuation of a balanced drug policy, with both supply programs, as we are focused on today, and continuing to drive down the demand for drugs in the United States.

Specifically, he pointed out some strengthening of our community anti-drug coalitions, dealing with the treatment gap, zeroing out drug abuse within the federal prison system and so forth. So how about a shotgun response?

MR. BROWNFIELD: And finally, may I close the loop by bringing us back to the subject of today's briefing, the Andean Region Initiative? The Andean Regional Initiative is not a counter-drug initiative. It is a strategy that has three elements to it, and since we are very simple people, we start them all with the letter D -- democracy, development and drugs. Counter-drug obviously is a part, a very important part, of the Andean Regional Initiative, but it is an attempt to integrate a coherent approach that covers all elements of the problems and threats affecting the Andean region and indirectly the United States of America today.

Democracy, by which we mean not just support for elections but human rights and education and, where required, humanitarian assistance. Development, which is not just pure economic and social development but would include, at least within our meaning, trade issues such as the Andean Trade Preference Act which the President has announced he hopes will be extended at the end of this year, and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, which the President has been even more clear about his hope that it will be completed by January of 2005. And finally, yes, as a key essential component, counternarcotics, an aggressive and balanced counternarcotics approach.

But I do want to leave that message with you. The Andean Regional Initiative is an attempt to integrate all of these elements into a single coherent approach.

Q:I had a couple questions on contractors, the use of contractors in Colombia. How much is the U.S. Government currently spending on private contractors in Colombia? And besides DynCorp, which we've all heard about, what are some of the other companies receiving contracts? And is there any trend to train Colombians to do the jobs of some of these contractors?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: I can't speak to the DoD contractors and so you'll have to ask that question at the Defense Department. But with respect to the DynCorp contract, it has ranged over the last several years between 35 and 50 million dollars on an annual basis. The adjustment upward has come really at the end of calendar year '99 and in calendar year 2000. It was below that prior to that.

With respect to your question about Colombianization, we have as an active policy -- and it has been for some time -- to transfer as many of the functions that are currently provided by U.S. contractor support, at least on the INL side, to Colombians. And the issue has been finding qualified Colombians who are able to take on those missions and activities.

Q:Are there other companies besides DynCorp that have contracts?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BEERS: Subs of DynCorp. INL's contract in Colombia is essentially with DynCorp.

MR. HUNTER: I would like to thank our three briefers today for their insights into the three D's, and all of you for your interest. We will hope to organize further such briefings as this initiative takes shape. Thank you.

As of May 17, 2001, this document was also available online at http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/rm/2001/index.cfm?docid=2925
Google
Search WWW Search ciponline.org

Asia
|
Colombia
|
|
Financial Flows
|
National Security
|

Center for International Policy
1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Suite 801
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 232-3317 / fax (202) 232-3440
cip@ciponline.org