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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. John L. Mica (R-Florida), July 24, 2001
Mr. Chairman, this amendment really is not about allocation of child survival and health programs funding. Because if you just take a moment to look at the history here, we have $1.4 billion, nearly $1.5 billion allocated this year. Some 4 years ago, it was half the amount. It took a Republican Congress to increase this program, and it is an important program, and it is a targeted program which will aid in child survival worldwide.

But that is not the debate here. The debate is to really declare war on Plan Colombia. Some of the same opponents, Mr. Chairman, that we had toward giving any assistance to the Colombian military are the same opponents that we have here today.

We have heard that this is a purely military solution. Mr. Chairman, we have not had the military involved in Colombia really until this Plan Colombia came about. The Clinton administration blocked all of the military assistance to Colombia. Time and time again the Congress appropriated funds for helicopters. What do we need helicopters and transport vehicles to get to the Colombian military for? To get to the violence and get to the drugs. It does not take rocket science to figure this out. The drugs, the heroin, the cocaine are in the hills and distant lands in Colombia; and you need a way to get there.

Just a few minutes ago we dedicated a moment of silence to two Capitol police officers to whom as Members we will always be indebted because they sacrificed their lives to protect us. Do you know how many Colombian police have died to date? Over 5,000. There will be no moment of silence for those 5,000 Colombian police.

We have been to Colombia, many times. The Speaker helped develop this program. The administration for years blocked military assistance, and we got a huge increase in the production of heroin. From zero in 1993 to 70 percent of all the heroin coming into the United States is now coming in from Colombia because they blocked the military from stopping it.

Yes, there is violence out on the right side. You hear them talk about the military and how they are committing crimes. They did not tell you about the left wing, the FARC. They did not tell you about the ELN who cut people's throats, who use people in the most abusive ways you can ever imagine in human rights violations; and the terror is equally divided on both sides.

But they do not tell you that in order to stop the violence, to even get the police there without being slaughtered in Colombia, that you need some way to get them there. The key to that is our military assistance, the military, which we are training three battalions, providing helicopters and assistance to get them there. They encircle an area, and the police come in, arrest the terrorists and drug dealers, all of whom are financing the terrorism that has killed 35,000 people.

Do you want to care about human rights? Then allow Plan Colombia to at least go forward for 1 year. The aid is not even there. The helicopters that we begged and pleaded with the Congress and this administration to send there 3 and 4 years ago, are still not there. The last time I was there, they had four helicopters that were operating part of the time, and one was being cannibalized for parts. Now, how do you run an effective anti-illegal narcotics campaign like that?

Over one-half of the package is for assistance. If the assistance is not there, then get after the Department of State to get the assistance for alternative crop development and other programs to help people. But you will not build roads, you will not build schools, you will not save people's lives in Colombia until you have a comprehensive plan to make it all work.

So do not pull the guts out of the plan. Do not destroy a well-balanced plan that has protections against human rights abuses, that has a targeted approach and balance between a small amount of military delivering troops who are trained to an area to protect police.

You have heard about sacrifice of U.S. values. Well, the U.S. values our freedom.

Mr. Chairman, sacrifice of U.S. values, I heard that. Freedom and human rights. Well, there will not be freedom in Colombia while they are killing each other.

It is in the United States' interests, it is in our interests as a neighbor not to let our friends continue killing our friends, just as it was in any other country in South America or around the world where we sent our assistance. But, in this case, there are no troops involved, only training and assistance and close supervision.

Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to respond to the points the gentleman made that we are trying to take the guts out of this package. Let me remind the gentleman that $152 million in police aid is in this package; $72 million in police aid is in the pipeline, and an estimated $80 million in military aid.

Mr. MICA. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, you can take that police aid and dump it in the Potomac River, because the police will never be effective unless they are protected to go in there. You will have another 5,000 police lose their lives in Colombia.

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