Pubdate: Mon, 16 Oct 2000
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2000, Newsday Inc.
Contact:  (516)843-2986
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding "Conflict Uproots Many in Colombia" [Oct. 8]: The article states that approximately "80 percent of the U.S. aid money of about $7.5 billion is to be spent on military equipment and training to help the Colombian army." The other 20 percent, roughly $1.5 billion, is a misguided aid package that is bound to make an already chronic refugee problem even worse. Destabilizing the entire region is no solution to America's drug problem or Colombia's internal conflict.

Communist guerrilla movements do not spontaneously arise in a vacuum.

American tax dollars would be better spent addressing the underlying causes of civil strife, rather than applying overwhelming military force to attack the symptoms. Forcing rebels to the bargaining table at gunpoint will not remedy Colombia's extreme poverty and societal inequities.

America is not doing the Colombian people any favors by financing civil war. Nor are we protecting anyone from drugs. Rather than waste resources attempting to overcome immutable laws of supply and demand, policymakers should look to the lessons learned from America's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition in 1919-33.

I would think American politicians would have a better grasp on the basic economic principles upon which capitalism was founded. Then again, it is an election year. At the expense of human rights, $1.5 billion will buy both parties bloodstained "tough-on-drugs" credentials.

Robert Sharpe Washington Editor's Note: The writer is a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
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