by Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Illinois), July 24, 2001
Chairman, I rise in reluctant opposition to this amendment, but I do want
to salute the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MCGOVERN) for his work on
behalf of Mr. Moakley's long work in support of human rights in El Salvador
and in support of human rights in Colombia; but I reluctantly oppose this
Recently, I accompanied
the Waukegan Police Department on a raid of a crack house. There we found
the crack addicts in the basement, but then I found that this was actually
a home with three little bitty babies in it and a 12-year-old smoking
crack cocaine. We cannot surrender the drug war. We need to make sure
that we protect those who cannot protect themselves.
But there are two
purposes of the drug war. The first purpose of a U.S. drug war is to reduce
the narcotics flow into the United States, and on that we have not done
well. But there is a second purpose; and that second purpose, Mr. Chairman,
is to prevent narcogovernments from taking power. We saw it once already
in our history when the government of Panama fell and a narcogovernment
took control there.
Manuel Noriega turned
the Immigration Ministry in Panama into an enormous drug lab. And two
things happen once a narcogovernment takes control: first, economies of
scale; and, secondly, research and development. The research and development
in the narcotics industry created crack cocaine, a $5 single hit, that
was an enormous boost to the illegal drug industry. And we cannot let
that happen in Colombia.
The United States
has an important and positive role to play in supporting civil society
in Colombia. Colombia, our neighbor, is in the middle of a nationwide
crisis which threatens the entire region, and they have asked for our
help. So the question is not should we become engaged, but how we should
become engaged and to what end. Had this amendment redirected funds to
support civil society in Colombia, especially judicial reform, I would
have strongly supported it. However, simply pulling support from Colombia
and its fight against drugs and its fight against narcoterrorism is not
I believe it is vitally
important to support Colombian institutions that are working in an effective
fashion to bring criminals to justice, whether these criminals wear the
uniform of rebels who profit from drug trafficking or are right-wing paramilitaries
who fill their war chests with cash culled from the same dirty source.
I would even mention that some of these lawbreakers wear the Colombian
uniform of the armed services and support illegal activities of paramilitary
groups that are responsible for most human rights violations in Colombia.
But I would note
that all aid under this bill passes through the Leahy amendment, vetting
people to ensure respect for human rights. There are institutions in Colombia
that do a truly exceptional job fighting injustices engulfing the country;
and among them is the attorney general, known as the Fiscalia, and the
Colombian National Police. Most of the recent high-level captures of paramilitary
leaders and rebel chieftains are the result of the dedicated work of the
attorney general's office, where hundreds of prosecutors are working against
tremendous odds to transform the written word of Colombia's laws into
real-life consequences for criminals.
For instance, it
is the attorney general's office that has done the painstaking investigations
that have resulted in arrest warrants for top paramilitary leaders recently.
They hit at the heart of the paramilitary structure, their drug profits;
and they need our help. For their part, the leadership of the Colombian
National Police has literally turned an institution around over the past
decade, from one stained by human rights violations into a professional
force. They have done what so far the Colombian military has not, sending
a clear and pointed message that rank-and-file human rights violators
will not be tolerated.
Since 1994, when
General Jose Serrano took over, over 11,000 officers have been dismissed
for crimes that vary from corruption to extrajudicial execution. In their
place are officers who know their first duty is to obey the laws themselves
before they bring criminals to justice. General Gilibert continues to
uphold this tradition and needs our support to continue to enforce the
law, particularly in regards to human rights.
Mr. Chairman, we
should not surrender Colombia to drug lords of the right or the left.
Defeat in this instance of civil society would mean at least 10 percent
of Colombia would attempt to move to the United States. I would hope in
the future we could work together in a bipartisan fashion to craft an
aid package that supports the Democrat center, civil society, prosecutors,
police officers, judges to create a Democrat forum in Colombia where we
could win the war against the tyranny of the right or left.
As of October 3, 2001,
this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+h)+@FIELD(DDATE+20010724)