by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-New York), July 24, 2001
Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
I rise today in support
of the amendment offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MCGOVERN)
to reduce funding for the Andean Initiative by $100 million. During the
consideration of Plan Colombia, I had some serious concerns regarding
the manner in which the $1.3 billion would be distributed. I believed
that the concentration of those funds on military rather than on economic
and social assistance was a grave miscalculation. The assistance provided
to the Colombian military has been used to support and intensify the long
tradition of human rights abuses in Colombia in my opinion. Plan Colombia
has bloodied the hands of this Congress.
I believe that this
reduction of $100 million should be taken from the account directed to
the Colombian military to send a message that these abuses of basic human
rights will not be tolerated any longer. I cannot stand idly by while
this body attempts to make the same mistake once again. Though I believe
that the Andean Initiative takes steps toward a broader regional strategy
and addresses the shortcomings of Plan Colombia, the President's request
for the distribution of this account is incredibly deficient.
The most glaring
deficiency is the lack of support for the country of Ecuador. We are talking
about a country that has struggled for years with high inflation, a high
rate of unemployment and a low per capita income. We are talking about
a country that provides the United States a forward operating location
at the Manta Air base to conduct drug surveillance missions free of charge.
Under the administration
of President Noboa, Ecuador has done nothing but demonstrate acts of loyalty
and friendship toward the United States. How do we repay them? By providing
only $39 million, $39 million when Peru and Bolivia are receiving well
over $100 million each. This is not providing support for a friend in
need. This is a slap in a friend's face.
Ecuador is dealing
with the daunting task of keeping the coca production beyond its borders.
With the increasing activity by Colombian paramilitaries in the Putumayo
region, this is becoming more and more difficult every day.
If the Colombian
military and paramilitaries are successful in driving the guerillas out
of southern Colombia, the problem will not be solved. The guerillas will
simply move elsewhere to resume their business. This funding will not
allow Ecuador to secure its borders or resist the movement of the guerillas
into the Sucumbios region of Ecuador.
Just last month,
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia crossed the Rio Putumayo into
Ecuador and set up roadblocks on a main highway. This is the beginning
of the terror for Ecuador. We can take steps in this Chamber to nip this
in the bud.
Ecuador once shared
a 367-mile border with Colombia. It now today shares a 367-mile border
with rebel forces. Something must be done before this situation gets out
of hand. No Member wants to be down on this floor next year voting for
an aid package called Plan Ecuador.
I sincerely believe
that the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. KOLBE) and the gentlewoman from New
York (Mrs. LOWEY) are committed to improving the situation in Ecuador.
As this bill goes to conference, I would like to offer my assistance to
ensure that the underfunding of Ecuador be addressed and rectified.
I also note that
this money that will be redirected to child survival and maternal health
as well as combating the spread of infectious disease. With so much suffering
in this world today, why must we contribute to more of it? Let us take
this opportunity to promote the welfare of both Colombia, the Andean region
and global health entirely.
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)