by Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-New York), July 24, 2001
Chairman, I rise in support of the McGovern amendment, reducing the amount
of military assistance for Colombia and increasing funding for child survival
maternal health, tuberculosis and malaria. Regardless of whether you support
the huge U.S. investment in arming and training the Colombian military and
police, the facts are clear. The acceleration of military activity in southern
Colombia as a result of Plan Colombia funding has led to less government
control, more violence, and no reduction in drug cultivation processing
or transshipment. As a result of these and other developments, President
Pastrana is now considering signing a law which would provide the Colombian
military with extraordinary power and exemptions from judicial review.
During debate on
Plan Colombia last year, Members were assured that alternative economic
development was as much a priority as military and police aid. We were
also told that our European allies would compensate on the economic assistance
side for the imbalance in our own program.
What actually happened?
A massive fumigation campaign commenced last December in southern Colombia
before any alternative economic development programs were in place. By
last March, no alternative crop assistance had been delivered to communities
which had agreed to voluntary eradication. Today, as we speak, assistance
is being delivered in only two of the 29 communities that have signed
pacts. In fact, only 1,800 of the 29,000 people in the affected area are
actually receiving assistance today. Military assistance programs have
proceeded rapidly, while economic assistance from Europe never materialized,
and United States assistance has been slow in arriving. We are adept at
wielding the stick of Plan Colombia, but the carrot is nowhere to be found.
The McGovern amendment
would reduce military assistance to give alternative development programs
more time to be implemented. We owe the poorest of Colombia's poor who
have been terrorized by the ongoing conflict the opportunity to eradicate
their illegal crops voluntarily. And when they agree, we must have the
capacity to deliver on our promises immediately. That is not the case
over $1 billion for Plan Colombia, of which only about half has been spent.
The majority of the military equipment funded in that package has not
even been delivered to Colombia. Spending this $100 million on infectious
diseases is good policy and will not slow our progress in the war on drugs
in Colombia. In fact, it will actually help, by demonstrating that our
policy is balanced. It will also increase the likelihood that the alternative
development pacts will be sustainable over time.
The examples of successful
voluntary eradication programs in Bolivia and Peru show that manual/voluntary
eradication is the most effective and sustainable method of achieving
long-term change. In order to bring that about, poor farmers must receive
some actual benefits and gain confidence in their government. This has
not yet happened in southern Colombia. The McGovern amendment will help
solidify these alternative programs by slowing the pace of military assistance.
I urge my colleagues to support it.
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)