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Last Updated:6/25/00
Speech by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), June 21, 2000
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, the people of Colombia are good people. They maintained a democracy for a long time. There are 40 million people in Colombia. They are our fifth largest trading partner in Latin America. They are struggling with violence that has been going on for 40 years. There are at least two major Marxist-oriented guerrilla groups who control nearly 50 percent of the territory of Colombia. They have attempted repeatedly, through President Pastrana, to negotiate with these guerrillas and have had very little success. In fact, the guerrillas have taken advantage of the good auspices of the people of Colombia and President Pastrana, and even strengthened their hold on the territory and strengthened their antidemocratic activities.

There are paramilitary groups in the country also who are operating outside the law and are involved in drug trafficking.

The guerrilla organizations sustain themselves through the most active kidnapping in the world. Colombia has the highest number of kidnappings in the world. Its murder rate is probably the highest in the world. The guerrilla groups sell protection for drug traffickers, and that is how they make their money to maintain their existence.

I believe, as a former Federal prosecutor who has been involved in studying the drug issue and has prosecuted many cases in the district of Mobile, AL, involving quite a number of Colombian drug dealers and cartel members, we are going to have limited ability containing the drug problem in America through this money. But what we can do with this money and what is critical that we do with this money is strengthen the country of Colombia.

We need to say to them: We support you; we believe in your democracy. The 97-plus percent, as Senator Biden said, of the people in that country support their government, not these guerrilla organizations. They want peace, they want unification, they want economic growth, they want human rights, and they want a rule of law. That cannot be done and we cannot expect Colombia to stop drug trafficking in their nation if 40 percent of the territory is outside their control--50 percent perhaps.

I am distressed that this administration in public statements, in testimony before committee hearings, has refused to say: We support Colombia in their efforts against these guerrillas. They suggest their only motive is to provide money to help knock down drug production in Colombia. That is distressing to me. Ambassador Pickering testified and I cross-examined him. He said: Our emphasis is drugs.

That is not the basis of what we are doing. We want to help Colombia. We want Colombia to create a peaceful government to take control of its country. We want to encourage strong leadership, the kind of leadership that Abraham Lincoln provided when he unified this country. That is what needs to be done in Colombia to bring this matter to a conclusion once and for all.

If we do not do so, we are pouring new wine in old wine bottles. We are pouring money down a dangerous rat hole.

This amendment says: We support you, Colombia. We believe in you, Colombia. We explicitly endorse and support your efforts through peace negotiations or warfare, if necessary, to unify your country, to bring peace so you can then eliminate the drug trafficking that is occurring there.

Drug trafficking is a major problem in Colombia. It is our No. 1 supplier of cocaine. The cocaine production in Colombia has more than doubled in 5 years. Heroin is going up. Seventy percent of the heroin in the United States comes from Colombia. The main reason is the Government of Colombia does not control its territory. There are whole areas of territory outside the control of the government. We should support this country, and this amendment says so explicitly.

As of June 25, 2000, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:S21JN0-228:
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