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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-New York), July 24, 2001
Mr. 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)
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