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Last Updated:6/28/01
Speech by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), June 26, 2001
THE REGIONAL IMPORTANCE OF ECUADOR AND PERU -- (Senate - June 26, 2001)

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Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I rise today to highlight the countries of Ecuador and Peru within the context of the Andean Regional Initiative, ARI, the FY-2002 follow-on strategy to Plan Colombia. Although the ARI encompasses 7 South American counties, I want to focus today on these two important United States allies. Our hemispheric counterdrug efforts must be viewed within a regional context, or else any successes will be short-term and localized, and may produce offsetting or even worse conditions than before we started. Narcotics producers and smugglers have always been dynamic, mobile, innovative, exploitative, and willing to move to areas of less resistance. I am concerned that spillover, displacement, or narcotrafficker shifts, from any successful operations within Colombia, has the real potential to negatively affect Peru and Ecuador. I want the United States actions to help--and not hurt--our allies and this important region of our own hemisphere.

The State Department's June 2001 country program fact sheet reports that ``Ecuador has become a major staging and transshipment area for drugs and precursor chemicals due to its geographical location between two major cocaine source countries, Colombia and Peru. In recent months, the security situation along Ecuador's northern border--particularly in the Sucumbios province, where most of Ecuador's oil wealth is located--has deteriorated sharply due to increased Colombian guerrilla, paramilitary, and criminal violence. The insecurity on Ecuador's northern border, if not adequately addressed, could have an impact on the country's political and economic climate. Sucumbios has long served as a resupply and rest/recreation site for Colombian insurgents; and arms and munitions trafficking from Ecuador fuel Colombian violence.''

The Ecuador fact sheet continues ``[n]arcotraffickers exploit Ecuador's porous borders, transporting cocaine and heroin through Ecuador primarily overland by truck on the Pan-American Highway and consolidating the smuggled drugs into larger loads at poorly controlled seaports for bulk shipment to the United States and Europe hidden in containers of legitimate cargo. Precursor chemicals imported by ship into Ecuador are diverted to cocaine-processing laboratories in southern Colombia. In addition, the Ecuadorian police and army have discovered and destroyed cocaine-refining laboratories on the northern border with Colombia. Although large-scale coca cultivation has not yet spilled over the border, there are small, scattered plantations of coca in northern Ecuador. As a result, Ecuador could become a drug producer, in addition to its current role as a major drug transit country, unless law enforcement programs are strengthened.'' Finally, the

[Page: S6918]
State Department concludes that ``Ecuador faces an increasing threat to its internal stability due to spillover effects from Colombia at the same time that deteriorating economic conditions in Ecuador limit Government of Ecuador, GOE, budgetary support for the police.''
The State Department's March 2001 country program fact sheet reports that ``Peru is now the second largest producer of coca leaf and cocaine base. Peruvian traffickers transport the cocaine base to Colombia and Bolivia where it is converted to cocaine. There is increasing evidence of opium poppy cultivation being established under the direction of Colombian traffickers.'' The fact sheet continues ``[f]or the fifth year in a row, Peruvian coca cultivation declined from an estimated 115,300 hectares in 1995 to fewer than an estimated 34,200 hectares in 2000 (a decline of 70 percent since 1995). The continuing [now-suspended] U.S.-Peruvian interdiction program and manual coca eradication were major factors in reducing coca leaf and base production.'' In addition, ``[t]hese U.S. Government supported law enforcement efforts are complemented by an aggressive U.S.-funded effort to establish an alternative development program for coca farmers in key coca growing areas to voluntarily reduce and eliminate coca cultivation. Alternative development activities, such as technical assistance and training on alternative crop production, are provided as long as the community maintains the coca eradication schedule. In Peru, activities include transport and energy infrastructure, basic social services (health, education, potable water, etc.), strengthened civil society (local governments and community organizations), environmental protection, agricultural production and marketing, and drug demand reduction.''

With respect to Peru, I also encourage the Department of State to quickly report to Congress the findings on the tragic shootdown on April 20 of this year and the intended future of the air interdiction program.

I encourage my colleagues, and the public, to be sensitive to the current delicate conditions and future developments in these countries. In addition, while I support the additional United States aid for Ecuador and Peru, as requested in the President's FY-2002 budget, for both law enforcement and many needed social programs, I remain concerned that our current efforts lack coherence or clear-sightedness. I will say again that I fervently want the United States actions to help--and not hurt--Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, on this complicated and critical regional counterdrug issue. The goal is to make a difference--not make things worse or simply rearrange the deck chairs.

END

As of June 28, 2001, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+s)+@FIELD(DDATE+20010626)
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