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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. John L. Mica (R-Florida), July 24, 2001
Mr. Chairman, I commend my friends on both sides of the aisle who have brought to the attention of the House and the American people the pandemic problem of AIDS. I salute them in their efforts. Unfortunately, I believe that their efforts here may be well-intended, but in fact this amendment is somewhat misplaced.

Anyone who has held a dying African child in their arms, or witnessed someone suffering from AIDS, shares their well-intended compassion. I think this Congress has demonstrated, both in this bill and by the action of the Congress last week to increase the AIDS contribution by some 76 percent. I have held one of those dying African AIDS children in my arms. Unfortunately, at this time, to be honest, the only thing we can do is give them some comfort. Most of them will unfortunately die, and your heart does ache when you see the rows of graves across the African landscape and now across the horizon of many other countries.

The key to success in this area is research. We should be devoting our resources to research. I am pleased under the Republican Congress we have doubled the amount of money for medical research, and I think we are well targeted to finding a cure.

What we do not want to do here today in misguided compassion is to turn the clock back, though, on our efforts to stem illegal narcotics. This is a headline from my newspaper: Drug Deaths Top Homicides. For the first time, in 1999, drug-related deaths in this country exceeded homicides.

We knew that some years ago when we took over the House of Representatives as a new majority the seriousness of the threat we were facing with illegal narcotics. They made the same decision some time ago in the Clinton administration to start cutting some of these programs. On this chart is where the cuts started in 1993, the same kind of cut that is proposed here today. Unfortunately back then they started dismantling the Andean strategy and assistance. When this occurred we saw a skyrocketing of drug abuse in this country and drug deaths in this country. Only after we restarted this effort, and the chart here clearly points it out, have we made a dent in this problem.

Now would be the worst time to turn the clock back. Where is the heroin and the cocaine and the other drugs coming from that are killing our youth and our population in unprecedented numbers? They are coming from Colombia. That is why we targeted Colombia.

Does the plan work to stop illegal narcotics? With the Speaker and others involved in the subcommittee on drug efforts which the Speaker chaired before me, and we targeted the places where our drugs are coming from, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration cut assistance to Colombia; and we were able just recently to start that with Plan Colombia. But we see in Peru almost a complete eradication of cocaine production. In Bolivia, I can announce that our task is complete and accomplished with few dollars.

The problem we have in Colombia is that terrorism, which is killing thousands and thousands of people, is financed by illegal narcotics traffic. Colombia is now the source of deadly heroin. Look at this chart. In 1993, zero amount of heroin was produced there. Now, 75 percent of the heroin killing men and women and children in our streets comes from Colombia. That is why we are targeting this country.

This is not a pretty picture. This is one of my constituents. His mother gave me this picture to show the Members of the House. This young man was one of my constituents. He died of a heroin overdose. That heroin is coming from Colombia. It came from this route that we would now eliminate and destroy a program that we have started and that we have begun anew to curtail these deadly drugs from coming into our country.

What is worse about the drug epidemic, and we will hear more testimony about this in the coming weeks, is the heroin use and hard drug use is hitting our teens. It is hitting our minorities, but it is also hitting those most vulnerable in our society, our young people, both minority and others.

To make a mistake here with misplaced compassion, I urge my colleagues not to do it. Do not make that mistake. We can address both the problems of AIDS and we can also fight the war on illegal narcotics.

As of October 5, 2001, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20010724)

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