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Last Updated:10/25/01
Speech by Sen. Bob Graham (D-Florida), October 24, 2001
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, at 5 o'clock we are going to vote on an amendment which I have offered, which would restore the 22 percent cut that is contained in the subcommittee report as it relates to the Andean Region Initiative. This is funding which would provide for the four countries of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, with funds divided approximately 50 percent to Colombia and 50 percent to the other three; 50 percent of the funds for law enforcement and military activities, 50 percent for economic and social development programs.

This is the second chapter of the Plan Colombia which this Congress, under the leadership of President Clinton, adopted last year. It is also the continuation of the only program that we will have left to provide a means by which to suppress the supply of cocaine into the United States from its primary sources, which are these four countries and today primarily Colombia.

I have listened to some of the arguments that have been made in opposition to this amendment. They raise questions about the accountability of this program, raise questions about the efficacy of this program, and raise positive comments about the activities that are going to be funded with the 22 percent of the fund that is going to be taken away from this account.

This is a program which has only been in effect since October 1 of last year, for less than 13 months. I believe it has accomplished significant good. It has helped professionalize the army of Colombia, which has made it more able to launch effective attacks against drug dealers. It has begun to show the ability to reduce the amount of coca being produced in Colombia. It has stabilized the governments of, particularly, Peru and Ecuador.

But beyond all of those positive benefits, I think the fundamental benefit today, on October 24, is that this is the longest running U.S. partnership program to attack terrorism in the world. In this case, the terrorists happen to also be drug dealers. We are attacking them in their uniform as drug dealers, but, in so doing, we are also attacking them in their 50-year role as terrorists, formerly ideological terrorists, now essentially thugs. They have gone from Che Guevara to being Al Capone.

I believe it would send the worst possible signal to the world that we are trying to unite in an effective program against terrorism, to be pulling the plug, essentially, on the effort that we have underway against one of the most vicious terrorist groups in the world, a group which in the year 2000, the last year for which statistics are available, committed 44 percent of the all the terrorist assaults against U.S. citizens and interests in the world.

Mr. President, 44 percent of them were committed in Colombia. That is an indication of how concentrated, how deep, and how violent the terrorist activity is there, directed against U.S. citizens, to say nothing of the assaults against Colombian citizens and persons from other nations who are in Colombia.

I hope to reserve a few moments to close, but I urge in the strongest terms the adoption of this amendment which will recommit ourselves to a strong U.S. partnership with our neighbors in Latin America, a strong program of attacking drugs at the source as we build up our capability to reduce the demand in the United States and to avoid sending the signal that all of our rhetoric about how strongly we are prepared to resist terrorism is just that--rhetoric. Because when it comes to actual performance, we failed.

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)

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