Last Updated:11/9/01
Letter to Foreign Operations Conferees from 35 Representatives, November 8, 2001
November 8, 2001

Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman
Senator Mitch McConnell, Ranking Member
Congressman Jim Kolbe, Chairman
Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Ranking Member
cc: Conferees on the FY02 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

Dear Conferee on H.R. 2506, the FY02 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill,

We are writing to bring to your attention five issues regarding U.S. policy in Colombia and the Andean Counterdrug Initiative that will need to be resolved in conference negotiations. In both bodies of Congress, there has been vigorous debate over the past three years on how best to promote democratic institutions in Colombia, the peace negotiations initiated by Colombian President Pastrana, and a decrease in violence, drug production, and drug trafficking throughout the Andean region. The House and Senate versions of H.R. 2506, the Fiscal Year 2002 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, each contain provisions that reflect the concerns and priorities of their respective chambers.

In seeking to resolve the differences between the two bills on these matters, we urge the conferees to adopt the following:

Section 563 in the Senate bill should be retained. This section requires the Administration to certify that the Colombian Armed Forces is suspending members and officers credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights. It also calls for a certification that the Colombian military is cooperating fully with civilian prosecutors and the Attorney General's office to execute outstanding arrest warrants for paramilitary members. In both the House and the Senate, the human rights record of many Colombian military officers and the links between the Colombian military and paramilitary groups have been central to the debate on U.S. policy. Since the U.S. began providing military aid for Plan Colombia, virtually no high-level officers have been dismissed on human rights grounds and, indeed, a number of officers with very poor records have recently been promoted. The Senate's modest but essential human rights conditions should be retained in the final conference report.

The Senate bill also places conditions on the purchase of herbicides for fumigation as part of the overall Andean Counterdrug Initiative. The Senate bill requires a certification by the Administration that fumigation does not adversely affect human health, that an effective compensation mechanism exists to compensate farmers whose legal crops are destroyed, and that local authorities have been consulted on instituting alternative development programs in areas where fumigation is being carried out. There is a broad consensus in both bodies on the need to ensure that fumigation does not adversely affect the health of the local population, or the ability of local authorities to encourage small farmers to embrace alternative crops and eradicate coca production. The Senate provision allows for a six-month grace period during which USAID can move forward to create an eradication and alternative development program that is more broadly supported in the field.

The House bill contains a provision that requires the Secretary of State to report on the April 20, 2001 incident in which Veronica Bowers and her 7-month-old daughter, Charity, were killed when a Peruvian Air Force jet opened fire on their plane. It also requires the Secretaries of State and Defense and the Director of the CIA to certify 30 days prior to any resumption of U.S. involvement in counternarcotic flights and "force-down" programs that enhanced safeguards and procedures are in place that will help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. We urge the conferees to retain this provision in its entirety.

Retain the Senate provision to deny visas to those who financially support the FARC, ELN and AUC in Colombia. The U.S. Department of State lists all of these irregular armed groups as terrorist organizations with direct ties to the drug trade. This provision originated in the House and is included in the House-approved State Department Authorizations Bill. It sends an unambiguous message that financial support for terrorist groups will not be tolerated, and it should be included in the final conference report of H.R. 2506.

Finally, the Senate bill provides $109 million less funding for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative than the House bill. When determining the final funding level, we urge the conferees to refrain from taking funds from the Child Survival and Health Programs, in particular the child survival and maternal health programs and the account to combat and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

We believe that all members of the House and the Senate agree upon the need for the United States to work with our allies in the Andean region to put an end to drug production and trafficking and the violence that accompanies it. The recommendations cited above will bring us closer to achieving those goals, as well as strengthening democratic institutions. We urge the conferees to adopt these provisions in the final conference report of H.R. 2506.


Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA)
Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI)
Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL)
Rep. George Miller (D-CA)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Rep. Michael M. Honda (D-CA)
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA)
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Rep. Lane Evans (D-IL)
Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Rep. Connie A. Morella (R-MD)
Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA)
Rep. James R. Langevin (D-RI)
Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
Rep. John F. Tierney (D-MA)
Rep. Ron J. Kind (D-WI)
Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-MI)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA)
Rep. Anthony David Weiner (D-NY)
Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH)
Rep. John W. Olver (D-MA)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN)
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA)
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA)
Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

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