Pubdate: Sun, 18 Feb 2001
Source: Chapel Hill News (NC)
Copyright: 2001 Chapel Hill News
Contact:  P.O. Box 870, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Fax: (919) 968-4953
Author: Noreen Ordronneau


Helicopters and guns supplied by the U.S. taxpayers under "Plan
Colombia" will not solve the problems of poverty in the Andes nor drug
addiction in the United States.

In recent confirmation hearings, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
observed that the U.S. has a drug-demand problem on its hands, not a
supply problem. If the effort to eradicate the cultivation and
production of coca in Colombia is successful, production will simply
move to another country -- Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil -- the potential
list is endless. As long as demand persists, a supply will be found.

Money would be better spent on drug treatment on demand here in the
United States instead of incarceration. "We jail about 450,000 people
every year in the United States for non-violent drug offenses," says
ex-drug czar Barry McCaffrey.

Aerial herbicide spraying in Colombia destroys small farmers' edible
crops along with the coca. Without food crops such as corn, yucca,
bananas and fish ponds, small farmers face starvation.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Bush administration face a
quagmire in Colombia. Fighting a war isn't the solution. As long as
Americans crave cocaine, farmers in Colombia --and elsewhere --- will
continue to cultivate the lucrative leaves.

Colombia poses a major challenge for the Bush administration. Secretary
Powell could help lead the United States back from an ill-conceived,
expensive military intervention that threatens to spill into other
Andean countries.

In the end, only a negotiated peace settlement that addresses land
reform and economic inequality will end the 36-year-old civil war that
has devastated Colombia.

Noreen Ordronneau, Carrboro
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