This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

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Last Updated:10/05/01
Speech by Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-New York), July 24, 2001
Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

We have already stood and debated the record of implementation of Plan Colombia. One thing which is crystal clear is that programs designed to provide benefits of alternative development simply have not materialized.

Assistance is currently being delivered in only two of the 29 communities that have signed pacts to voluntarily eradicate coca. There are wide-ranging views about the effectiveness of aerial spraying, but no one disputes the fact that you cannot expect farmers to stop growing coca if there is no capacity to help them grow something else.

We have heard a lot of promises for improvement from the administration, but the fact is that we have been promising acceleration of the program since March, and we have seen very little progress in terms of additional communities actually receiving assistance.

Another basic concern is that there are no plans to set up alternative development programs in other regions of Colombia where they are spraying crops. In western portions of Colombia, for example, where many Afro-Colombians reside, spraying has occurred, and there are no alternative development programs and no plans to set them up.

This amendment simply says, let us take a time out to rethink our policy. Getting poor farmers to voluntarily and manually eradicate coca is the ultimate goal of the program. Should not we have programs in place that demonstrate the rewards of such courageous actions before we spray on such a wide scale?

In the rush to provide military assets and push into southern Colombia, we left out a critical part of the plan. The only thing we succeeded in was generating overwhelming public opposition and distrust in the regions being sprayed. Is that the path to a long-term solution? Will that muster the support of the local populations and governments?

This amendment would halt spraying in Colombia and would give planned alternative development programs time to mature and demonstrate success. If this were allowed to occur, it would speed eradication of coca and bring us closer to the ultimate goals of Plan Colombia which we all share.

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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