by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wisconsin), October 24, 2001
FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I thank the chairman for his help in making it
possible to get going on this amendment. I rise to offer an amendment to
the foreign operations appropriations bill. I am very pleased to have as
an original cosponsor the distinguished senior Senator from Minnesota, Mr.
WELLSTONE, who has certainly made it his business to follow closely our
policy in Latin America, in particular in Colombia.
My amendment is
intended to improve the efficacy of U.S. efforts to eradicate the supply
of narcotics that threatens our families and communities and to ensure
that our efforts to address this issue do not inadvertently plunge the
people of Latin America into a humanitarian and economic crisis.
The amendment is
very simple. It requires that the administration have alternative development
plans for a given region in place before engaging in aerial fumigation
in that area, and it requires that alternative development plans are being
implemented in areas where fumigation has already occurred.
This is hardly a
radical initiative. I recently received a letter from the administration
responding to some of my inquiries and concerns about our fumigation policy.
In the letter, the State Department itself noted that alternative development
must work in concert with eradication and with law enforcement. Unfortunately,
though, over the past year fumigation has occurred in areas where there
are no alternative development programs in place at all or in areas where
alternative development assistance has been exceedingly slow.
According to a recent
Center for International Policy meeting with experts from southern Colombia,
communities that signed pacts agreeing to eradicate coca in December and
January in Puerto Asis and Santa Ana, Putumayo, have not yet received
aid. AID as of mid-July states that only 2 out of 29 social pacts signed
have received assistance so far. These facts tell us that our policy has
to be better coordinated. More important, they tell us our policy cannot
possibly be working.
Of course, some
people simply disagree with this policy as a whole. I have heard from
a number of my constituents who are concerned about fumigation in and
of itself. They are concerned about the health effects of this policy,
and they are concerned about whether or not local communities and authorities
have been adequately consulted and informed about their policies.
Frankly, I share
those concerns. I strongly support the language the Appropriations Committee
has included conditioning additional funding for fumigation on a determination
to be submitted by the Secretary of State, after consultation with the
Secretary of HHS and the Surgeon General, that the chemicals involved
do not pose an undue risk to human health or safety; that fumigation is
being carried out according to EPA, CDC, and chemical manufacturers' guidelines;
and that effective mechanisms are in place to evaluate claims of harm
from citizens affected by fumigation. I believe these provisions are critically
important, and I share the skepticism of many with regard to United States
policy in Colombia in general.
those underlying conditions in this bill, my amendment does not seek to
eliminate fumigation from our policy toolbox. It does seek to ensure that
when we use that tool, we use it in a rational and effective way. If we
keep on fumigating without improving the conditions of coca growers, drug
crops will simply shift to other locations or spring up again as soon
as the fumigation stops. It makes no sense to take away a farmer's livelihood,
provide him no alternative, and expect him not to plant illicit crops
Without this amendment,
we risk failing in our counternarcotics efforts in creating a humanitarian
and economic disaster for the people of Colombia, one that will doubtless
also be costly for the United States in the long run.
I also want to point
out that my amendment calls for consultation with affected communities
and local authorities. Supporting democratic governance and a strong civil
society in Colombia are important United States policy goals. Those aims
reflect our clear interest in a stable and law-governed Colombia.
This is a very modest
proposal. It aims to make our policy work rationally and in a coordinated
fashion. It recognizes that eradication without alternative development
simply makes no sense.
the stake of the Colombian people in our policy. So I urge my colleagues
to support it.
As of October 25,
2001, this document was also available online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/B?r107:@FIELD(FLD003+s)+@FIELD(DDATE+20011024)