Last Updated:3/20/00
Colombian Embassy Statement, February 2000


Why the U.S. Congress should support the Clinton Administration's proposed assistance package to Colombia

February 2000

  • Support for this initiative is in both Colombia's and America's political and strategic interests. Success against drug trafficking in source countries (Colombia accounts for 80% of U.S. cocaine imports) will have real benefits to the United States.
  • Drug trafficking is today a global problem - one which requires a shared commitment by both producing and consuming nations. The Clinton Administration's program is a firm U.S. commitment to burden sharing.
  • President Pastrana is committed to the fight against drug trafficking in Colombia, and to increasing U.S.-Colombian cooperation. (Earlier in his political career, he was kidnapped by drug traffickers because of his outspoken opposition to them.) The Pastrana Government is firmly united in its support for implementing this program.
  • Colombia will provide the majority of funds to implement Plan Colombia - $4.0 billion in new monies over five years. Colombia is asking the U.S. and the international community to contribute an additional $3.5 billion. Colombia (and its neighbors) do not have the resources to fight this battle alone. The U.S. has to contribute, if we want to achieve real results in reducing drug trafficking and its violence.
  • The core elements of Plan Colombia include: modernize and professionalize Colombia's armed forces to dismantle drug trafficking organizations, and reduce overall illegal drug production by 50% over five years; develop alternative sources of employment and income for farmers in coca and poppy growing regions; strengthen institutions of the State, including the judiciary and law enforcement agencies; improve respect for human rights among all sectors of the population; implement economic reforms designed to produce long-term economic growth, a stable currency, increased exports and lower unemployment; and advance the Colombian peace process with guerrilla organizations.
  • The U.S. assistance package will contribute to Colombia's economic recovery. Colombia is currently experiencing its worst economic recession in 70 years. Colombia is a major trade and investment partner of the United States. It is home to more than $7 billion in U.S. direct foreign investment; bilateral trade was approximately $10 billion last year.
  • Plan Colombia and the Clinton Administration's assistance package has been developed as a result of extensive cooperation and consultation between the U.S. and Colombia during the past year. There is broad bipartisan support among the House and Senate leadership for this initiative.
  • President Pastrana deserves U.S. support. He is committed to reducing narco-trafficking, and to cooperating with the United States on this issue. He has begun a difficult peace process with the largest guerrilla organization (FARC) in Colombia. His Administration is implementing tough economic and political reforms. President Pastrana is not sitting idly by, waiting for U.S. aid. He has already taken a number of initiatives, and achieved successes, against trafficking organizations.
  • There has been some criticism that the Clinton Administration's program is too heavily focused on support to Colombia's military and national police, and does not provide sufficient economic assistance and support to judicial and law enforcement institutions in Colombia. However, because of the current security situation in Colombia, there is an immediate need to first strengthen the ability of the Armed Forces and Colombian National Police to secure law and order in the country, and reduce the level of violence associated with narcotrafficking. Moreover, Colombia is committing additional resources to economic and Government reform, and intends to ask the European Union, international financial institutions and others to also contribute to this effort.
  • Some argue that U.S. assistance to Colombia risks creating an "Andean Vietnam." This analogy has no basis in history. First, Colombia - unlike Vietnam - is a strong democracy. Its democracy lies at the core of its politics and society, and is not imposed by outsiders. Second, unlike in Vietnam, Colombia's guerrillas have no support among the country's population. Their strength lies only in an ability to commit violence and in being well-financed through drug activities and "commercial" kidnappings. Third, unlike in Vietnam, Colombians will fight the drug war with or without U.S. support. The country is not a "domino" in a larger global conflict. And finally, Colombians do not want, nor need, American troops to fight alongside them. They are only asking for the tools - training, arms, equipment and intelligence sharing - to fight the battle themselves.
  • Approving this assistance package in early 2000 will help Colombia at a critical time - when the Pastrana Government is strengthening the military, trying to lift the economy out of recession, and moving forward with peace talks.

This information is distributed by BMSG Worldwide, which is registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as an agent of the Republic of Colombia. Registration information is available from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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