from Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns:
"Stunning recovery warrants continued U.S. support," The Miami
Herald, April 26, 2006
recovery warrants continued U.S. support
The Miami Herald
the last five years, the Colombian people have produced the single
greatest success story in Latin America. Led by President Alvaro
Uribe, Colombia has reclaimed its territory from drug gangs, restored
respect for the rule of law, battled vicious terrorist groups
and returned democracy to the people. These are remarkable achievements.
The United States has given help to Colombia in each of these
the consent of the U.S. Congress, we should continue to support
Colombians to take back their country from drug traffickers and
than a decade ago, Colombia was a country under siege. Guerrillas
on the left and paramilitaries on the right controlled wide swaths
of its territory. Political institutions were corroded by drug
money. And drug trafficking to the United States was at an all-time
high. Our two governments agreed on Plan Colombia -- a road map
requiring a determined and energetic Colombian government campaign
to take back the country. The United States agreed to help finance
is more good news in recent months.
Last week yet another murderous paramilitary organization laid
down its weapons. More than 30,000 ''paras'' have done so over
the past two years.
One of the leftist guerrilla armies, having failed to win power
on the battlefield, is now pursuing peace in talks with the government.
More than 300 criminals have been extradited to the United States
during the Uribe administration.
Both common crime and human rights abuses are declining.
The economy is growing -- more than 5 percent in 2006. In December
the United States and Colombia concluded a free-trade agreement
that should accelerate that growth and create thousands of jobs
for the poor and marginalized. We want to see the benefits of
free trade and democracy flow straight to the poorest people in
United States is standing alongside Colombia in its offensive
against the drug cartels. Together we seized more than 223 metric
tons of cocaine in 2005 alone and more than 700 tons since 2001.
helped the government of Colombia eradicate more than 340,000
acres of coca and 3,900 acres of opium poppy in 2005. In addition
to the ''push'' of our counter-drug and counter-terror cooperation,
the ''pull'' of our rural-development programs in Colombia have
helped farmers plant more than 200,000 acres of legal crops in
the past five years and improved the lives of more than 64,000
farm families, giving them a viable alternative to coca cultivation.
economic-assistance programs have leveraged more than $81 million
in private funds and $340 million in public funds to create nearly
100,000 new full-time jobs. We have provided humanitarian assistance
to more than two million people displaced by the conflict and
aided more than 2,800 former child soldiers.
tremendous strides, there is still a war to be won in this strategically
important country, and the United States needs to extend a hand
to its friends. Helping our Colombian partners consolidate their
successes is one of the most important U.S. priorities in Latin
America. Colombia is the source of more than 90 percent of the
cocaine and nearly half of the heroin entering the United States.
What happens there directly affects our cities and towns.
his 2007 budget, President Bush has requested funding to ensure
that there is no let up in the prosecution of Colombia's war against
narco-terrorists. Even as the Colombian government is increasingly
assuming the costs for this campaign, we hope that Congress will
agree that Colombia's stunning recovery warrants continued U.S.
Latin America's third-largest country, Colombia has a profound
impact on the peace and stability of the region. Colombia still
faces a destabilizing threat from drug cartels and well-armed,
drug-financed terrorist groups. These thugs hold three of our
fellow citizens hostage, and we are doing our utmost to secure
their release. Yet the steady progress of the Uribe administration
gives every hope that the Colombian narco-terrorist threat will
United States' investment in Colombia is paying off. Colombia
is clearly a better place than it was before we embarked on our
joint undertaking to win Colombia back from the criminal gangs
that were destroying the country. We seek the support of the U.S.
Congress to finish the job we embarked on together -- creating
a secure and peaceful Colombia for the benefit of both the American
and Colombian peoples.
Nicholas Burns is undersecretary for political affairs at the
Department of State.
of April 13, 2005, this document was also available online at