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Last Updated:10/25/01
Speech by Sen. Bob Graham (D-Florida), October 24, 2001
Mr. GRAHAM. Madam President, it is my intention to send to the desk an amendment that will restore the funding recommended by the President for the Andean Regional Counterdrug Initiative. I consider this to be a central issue in the U.S. relationship with our neighbors in Latin America, but maybe even at this time a more important statement as to our commitment to the war against terrorism.

To develop these points, I want to first give a brief resume of the history of this region over the past several years. By the late 1990s, Colombia and the Andean region were nations in peril and at risk. Colombia had been one of the most stable countries in Latin America during most of the 20th century. It had a phenomenal economic record, with some 50 years of unbroken increases in its rate of gross domestic product growth. It also was the oldest democracy on the continent of South America, with a long tradition of transition of power from one political party to the other without violence.

Unfortunately, it was also a region which had been infected by strong guerrilla groups. These guerrilla groups had their origin in various nuances of Marxism. They were guerrillas who represented Soviet Marxism, guerrillas who represented East German Marxism, Chinese Marxism, North Korean Marxism, Cuban Marxism. They were ideologically oriented.

Over time, they had become less political and more economic. They had made the transition from being Lenin to being Al Capone in their orientation.

Something else was developing in the countries in the Andean region during the last half of the 20th century, and that was a surge of illicit drug production, starting with marijuana and then moving to cocaine, with a very high percentage of the world's cocaine being produced in this region.

The drug traffickers who were producing cocaine were of the General Motors format: They were highly centralized. They had a CEO. They had a vertically integrated process that started by financing the farmers who grow the raw coca to the ultimate distribution and financing of that system in the United States and Europe.

We made a major effort--we, the civilized world, with the United States playing a key role--to take down these highly centralized drug organizations--the Medellin cartel, the Cali cartel. After a long period of significant investment and loss of life, we were successful. We thought that by taking off the head of the snake of the drug cartels we would kill the rest of the body.

In fact, what we found in the late 1990s was that these decapitated snakes were beginning to reconstitute themselves, and they were moving away from the General Motors model towards a more entrepreneurial model; whereas they used to have vertically integrated parts of the drug trafficking chain, now they have multiple small drug traffickers doing each phase, from the growing in the field, to the transporting, to the financing of the drug trade.

For a period of time, these new entrepreneurial drug traffickers found themselves at risk because they did not have the kind of security protection that the old centralized system had, and so they turned to these now economic guerrillas, the Al Capones of Colombia, and made a pact with them. The pact was: We will pay you well if you will provide us security so that we can conduct our illicit activities.

For a while, that was the relationship, but then the Al Capones figured out: We are providing the reason and the capability of these drug traffickers to do their business. They are making a lot more money in drug trafficking than we are providing the security for the drug traffickers; why don't we become the drug traffickers ourselves?

By the end of the nineties, the drug trade, in particular in Colombia, had been largely taken over by the former ideological guerrillas who had become Al Capones and now were becoming drug traffickers.

In addition to the two things I have indicated were occurring, the change in the way in which the drug trade was organized and, second, the role of the guerrillas in the drug trade, a third thing was occurring in the late 1990s, and that was, after this long unbroken period of economic progress and the benefits that was providing for the people of the Andean region, particularly Colombia, they started to go into economic decline.

The two previous events were a principal reason for that

decline: Both domestic and outside investors became leery about investing in Colombia and other Andean pact countries because of their concern about the level of violence and the influence the drug trade was gaining over those countries.

Just 18 months ago, unemployment in Colombia exceeded 20 percent as many of its traditional legal businesses went out of business.

Into this very difficult environment came a new leader for Colombia: President Pastrana. President Pastrana was not a person who was unknowing or immune from these forces that were shaping his country. He himself had been kidnapped by the guerrillas and held for a considerable period of time. Members of his family had been kidnapped and assassinated by the guerrillas. He was elected on a reform platform that he was going to, as the hallmark of his administration, lean toward a resolution of all three of these issues: The guerrillas, the drug trafficking, and begin to build a base for a new period of economic expansion.

The key to this became Plan Colombia which President Pastrana developed early in his administration. Plan Colombia is a very misunderstood concept, particularly from the perspective of the United States. I like to present it as being a jigsaw puzzle with 10 pieces. That total puzzle, once assembled, was a comprehensive plan to rid Colombia of the influence of the guerrillas, to suppress the drug trafficking and large-scale production of cocaine, and to engage in social and economic and political reform within Colombia, to transform Colombia into a fully functioning, modern, democratic, capitalistic nation state.

Of those 10 pieces that made up that total picture of Plan Colombia, the Colombians were going to be responsible for 5 of those 10 pieces.

The total cost of Plan Colombia was estimated at $8 billion, and the Colombian Government was going to pay for $4 billion. They raised taxes, made adjustments in their budget, and did other things to get prepared to accept their 50-percent share of this plan.

The other 50 percent was going to be divided between the United States, which would assume approximately 20 percent of the cost of Plan Colombia, and the rest of the international community, which was to assume 30 percent of the cost.

When the decisions were being made as to what parts of that international

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effort should be the U.S. component, the decision was made that most of our responsibility was going to be on the military side.
Why was that? The reason was, because a key part of a successful attack against the drug traffickers and since, in many instances, drug traffickers and guerrillas were the same people in the same uniform, the United States had the best ability to provide the intelligence the Colombian military would need to use its forces as effectively as possible.

We had the ability to provide the training that the Colombian military needed to increase its professionalism, and particularly to deal with issues such as the long history of human rights abuses within the military of Colombia, and we also could provide some of the equipment the Colombian military needed, specifically helicopters, to give the Colombian military greater mobility so that when they identified through intelligence where there was a drug activity that was susceptible to being attacked, they would be able to deliver the troops and the materials necessary to successfully carry out that attack.

I go into this in some detail because, for Americans, there has been a tendency to assume that since our component of Plan Colombia was heavily oriented toward military activities, that described the totality of Plan Colombia. That is not quite the fact.

The fact is the totality of Plan Colombia was a balanced plan that had social, economic, political components, as well as law enforcement and military components. It just happened that because we were in the best position to provide the military components, that was where most of our part of Plan Colombia happened to fall.

Plan Colombia was presented to the Congress in 2000, and in the summer of 2000 the Congress voted to provide as the first installment towards our commitment to Plan Colombia $1.3 billion. We also committed we would have follow-on commitments to Plan Colombia as the progress of this effort to fight the three ills of Colombia: The guerrillas, the drug traffickers, and the economic decline.

President Bush has continued the Plan Colombia commitment which had been made by President Clinton. He has recommended to us that we appropriate $731 million. His plan substantially broadens the commitment from a primary focus on Colombia, which was the focus of the first year of the plan under President Clinton's leadership, to a regional focus.

The funds, as proposed by President Bush, are roughly evenly divided between Colombia on the one hand and the other Andean pact countries that are beneficiaries, which are Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. President Bush also recommended that of the 50 percent to go to Colombia, that should also be divided roughly 50/50 between law enforcement and military on the one side and economic and social development on the other.

Part of the reason for that recommendation was the fact it has been thus far difficult to get the other components of the international community, with a few major exceptions, Spain and Great Britain being two of those exceptions, to fully participate as had been anticipated in Plan Colombia. So we are now, in addition to our original area of principal responsibility, becoming more engaged in the social and economic development aspects of this now Andean legislative initiative.

The reason I am speaking this afternoon is the Foreign Operations Subcommittee rejected much of what President Bush had recommended, and they recommended the $731 million be cut by 22 percent, or to $567 million. That cut will have serious implications on the United States and our relationship with this region and the future of this region, and our commitments we are making today towards the fight against terrorism around the world.

To be specific, what are some of the implications of a 22-percent cut in the now Andean Regional Counterdrug Initiative? Let me start with the country that has been our principal focus and would be the recipient of half of these funds: The Republic of Colombia. Support for the Colombian National Police interdiction and eradication effort would be reduced because there would be less funding for spare parts for the equipment we provided and fuel to operate the equipment. This would make coca reduction targets less likely to be attained. The failure to attain those coca reduction targets means there will be more cocaine in the streets of the United States of America, afflicting the people of this Nation.

A second result will be security for government officials, which the military provides in high conflict areas, will also be reduced, making the police and alternative development workers even more vulnerable.

Last week there was a meeting held in Washington of an organization in which several members of this body

participate called the Inter-American Legislative Network. The purpose of this organization is to encourage the full development of the parliaments and congresses of the nations of the Western Hemisphere on the belief if they are truly going to have a democratic society, the institution in which we serve is a critical component of that society.

We started our meeting last Tuesday with a period of silence. That period of silence was in recognition of the fact two legislators from Colombia had been assassinated the week before we met, illustrative of the level of violence which is being directed towards the democratic institutions by the assassination of the members of democratic institutions in Colombia.

A third effect of this cut will be the Colombian alternative development program will be restricted, and the success we have had to date of signing up farmers who have been producing illicit coca to start producing legal crops will be substantially hampered, and our ability to comply with commitments we have already made will be restricted.

Next, programs to strengthen democratic institutions such as the judiciary and witness protection will also be reduced because of less funds available to support those programs. Lowered support for the police and military would also call into question our political support for Colombia, which might undermine the progress that has been made to date in human rights.

Finally, in the next year a new President will be elected in Colombia. They have a one-term limit on their Presidents. So President Pastrana could not run for reelection. There is an active campaign underway to elect his successors, and the candidates for the Presidential election which will occur next spring might raise questions as to the reliability of United States support, particularly during this difficult and significant period in the history of Colombia.

The consequences both within Colombia and on the U.S.-Colombian relationship of this proposed reduction are dire, but the implications are not limited to Colombia because, as I indicated, half of this money will now go to the other countries, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

Speaking of Peru, where there has been a very aggressive alternative development program which has been enormously successful, 15 years ago most of the coca produced in the world was produced in either Peru or Bolivia and then was transported to Colombia for processing into cocaine. That level of production in Peru and Bolivia has been dramatically reduced. That reduction has, in large part, been because we have been encouraging the farmers to do the same thing we hoped to accomplish in Colombia, which is to transition to legal crops.

We had no funding for that alternative development program in either fiscal year 2000 or 2001 because of our concerns about President Fujimori. As we know, President Fujimori was forced out of the country. He is now living in exile. A new President, President Toledo, has been elected and had been anticipating we would resume the level of support we have been giving to Peru. That support is now at risk. Failure to support Peru in this area of alternative development will undermine the hopeful reflourishing of democracy that will come to Peru under the leadership of President Toledo.

Similarly, Brazil's success is also being challenged as a new President takes office. Planting of coca is beginning to occur in the Champara region, which was the principal area of coca production in Bolivia. We need to help the new Government continue to enforce the coca ban and to offer further

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alternative development assistance, not to retreat as this subcommittee recommendation would have us do.
Ecuador is also vulnerable to cuts as we seek to maintain enforcement and foster community development, particularly in the northern border region adjacent to Colombia's major coca cultivation zones. Ecuador, which is one of the poorer countries of Latin America, has a long border with Colombia which is immediately adjacent to the area where the principal guerilla group called the FARC in Colombia operates,

and the area where we have been putting the principal focus of our coca eradication.

There has been a great deal of cross-border activity, and Ecuador has been looking to us to give them some assistance in maintaining the sanctity of their borders so they can maintain what has been a surprisingly effective effort to avoid substantial coca production in Ecuador. Brazil, Panama, and Venezuela also have modest enforcement programs which need support to have a chance to overcome the efforts of traffickers to transit drugs and corrupt local governments.

The whole Andean region is a region at risk. I suggest we are sending exactly the wrong signal of our awareness of that risk and our willingness to be a good partner at a time of need by this 22-percent cut in our program of assistance to the Andean region.

The proposed Andean Regional Counterdrug Initiative, in my opinion, is an integrated, balanced package. There are proposals now, even with those funds that are left, to earmark those funds in ways that will not be consistent with an integrated effort in the Andean region. Earmarking funds for non-Colombian programs will increase the likelihood of failure and increased violence in Colombia, the largest coca producer in the world. As indicated, we are already proposing--the administration is proposing--to allocate these funds on a 50/50 basis between Colombia and the other Andean countries. The earmarking would change that rational balance.

Finally, following September 11, U.S. law enforcement and military resources which had been placed in the Andean region were withdrawn. Significant numbers of law enforcement personnel were withdrawn back to the United States to assist in homeland security. Many of the military personnel are now in central Asia. This regional effort, funded by foreign assistance, the effort we are considering today, represents the most significant remaining activity in the world to stem the flow of drugs into the United States. For those who say they want to fight drugs, this is the drug program in terms of reducing the supply into the United States. To cut it by almost a quarter will seriously curtail a program on the verge of success, with no alternative supply reduction strategy available. The consequences of this action are serious, immediate, but also with very long-range implications.

I close by asking this question: What is the message the United States of America is sending to our own citizens, what is the message we are sending to the world, when on October 24, 2001, we come before the Senate with a proposal to cut back on the only effective program we have in the world to reduce the flow of cocaine into the United States and one of the most important programs we have in the world to attack terrorists?

These are some of the messages. We are saying we are prepared to give up on the international effort to strengthen the forces of democracy, lawfulness, and future economic growth in a very important region for the United States. How do we ask a European country to make a commitment to support this region if we, who have much more immediate interests and so much more at risk, take the action being recommended today?

Second, are we giving up on Latin America? President Bush, when he came into office, and previously as Governor of Texas and as a candidate for the Presidency, emphasized the importance of the United States relations with Latin America. Unfortunately, we have yet to move forward on an effective program to influence our closest neighbors in the Western Hemisphere.

The one next to this program that is most important is to increase our trade relations. We have a 10-year program with the countries of the Andean region, called the Andean trade pact, whereby we have provided beneficial trade relations. That program will expire in early December. As of today, less than 60 days to expiration day, we have not moved in either the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee the legislation even to renew that program which is a vital part of the economic capacity of that region and particularly critical now as we are trying, for instance in the case of Colombia, to disemploy 400,000 people who are now working in illicit drug activities, and give them some opportunity to work in a legal, productive area of the economy. Yet we are about to see an important part of the pillar of that legal economy eroded.

The irony is that much of the funding that has been stripped out of the Andean region has been diverted to, as I understand it, providing additional funds to the Export-Import Bank, the purpose of which is to increase our trade. Here we are with some of the best self-trading partners the United States has, a region of the world in which we have a positive trade balance, and we are undercutting its capacity so we can fund the Export-Import Bank whose purpose is to promote trade. That is ironic.

Third, I am concerned we are returning to neo-isolationism, and doing so at the very time when we need to be building strong international coalitions to prepare for the long-range war against terrorism.

That brings me to my final point. What is the message we are sending? A number of Members earlier today were asked to go to the White House to meet with the President, the Vice President, and other leaders of the administration and the newly appointed head of the Homeland Security Agency, Gov. Tom Ridge. At the end of the meeting, President Bush gave us a final challenge. I would like, to the best of my ability, to quote what he said in that final challenge. He asked this question: Do we really want to win the war against terrorism? His answer: Absolutely, and that it will require unity, that we must be prepared to act in different ways in order to win this war.

We must be prepared to win it at home, and we must be prepared to win it at the source.

I agree with all of those challenges the President has given to the American people. But what is it going to say if, today, on October 24, some 6 weeks and 1 day after the tragedy of September 11, we strip away a substantial amount of the resources that are being used to fight one of the most virulent terrorist operations extant in the world? The FARC terrorists of Colombia.

In the year 2000 alone there were 423 terrorist attacks against U.S. interests by guerrillas in Colombia. Tell me that we are not fighting terrorism as we fight the source of funding for those terrorists, which is the drug trade in Colombia.

Of those 423 international terrorist acts against U.S. interests, over a third were in Colombia. Mr. President, 44 percent of all attacks against American interests in 2000 were conducted in the country of Colombia.

We have a war against terrorists. An important component of that war is not just 6 weeks old but now is several years old. We have made representations to the people of the United States, the people of Colombia, the people of the Andean region, that we were going to be a full partner in the successful pursuit of that war.

More recently, we have made similar representations to the people of Pakistan and to its leadership and to other countries around the world as we ask them to join the coalition for a long, protracted, difficult war to root out global terrorism wherever it exists in the world. I suggest our true commitment is not going to be judged by the words we speak but by the actions we take.

If we, today, accept a budget which strips 22 percent of the funds we have committed to an area which has become in many ways the global testing ground for our commitment against terrorism, I believe we will be sending a signal that will reverberate around the world, and one that will potentially substantially erode our credibility.

We have only had Plan Colombia now for a few days more than 12 months. It went into effect October 1 of 2000. Today is October 24 of 2001. Yet hardly

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more than a year into this battle we are beginning to sound the trumpet of retreat and run up the white flag of surrender. That is not what America wants this Senate to say on its behalf. We want to say, as President Bush asked us: Are we really in this war to win? Absolutely. We will have a chance later today to decide whether we want to put an exclamation point behind the President's statement and commitment.

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