Pubdate: Sat, 09 Sep 2000
Source: Athens Daily News (GA)
Copyright: 2000 Athens Newspapers Inc.
Address: PO Box 912, Athens, GA 30603
Fax: 706-208-2246
Note: By The Tulsa (Okla.) World


The lines are fuzzy in the Colombia drug war. The administration of 
President Andres Pastrana needs support -- financial and political -- from 
the United States, but under the current aid package, that support is 

Pastrana is fighting a civil war with Marxist guerrillas who are closely 
tied to the drug traffickers in Colombia and control almost half of the 
country. It is difficult to fight one without fighting the other. But the 
United States should make it clear to Pastrana and his security forces that 
the $1.3 billion in aid is for fighting the drug trade, not the guerrillas.

But, again, the lines are fuzzy. The aid package contains 60 military 
helicopters and training for an anti-narcotics brigade. It will be all but 
impossible to guarantee that those helicopters and those troops will be 
used only against drug traffickers.

There are useful parts of the package, including money for human rights 
training, judicial reform and a program to offer alternatives to farmers 
who now cultivate drugs.

But it will be difficult to change the habits of poor Colombian farmers who 
can make far more money cultivating coca plants than they can growing corn. 
And as many farms as government troops destroy, that many more will pop up 

The United States should offer help to any country struggling with 
democracy and fighting to preserve it. But the aid to Colombia, although 
well-meaning, seems a bit misdirected.

- -- The Tulsa (Okla.) World
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart