Pubdate: Wed, 21 Mar 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


Imagine a house on fire and firefighters throwing gasoline on it in the 
hope of extinguishing it. The United States does just that in Colombia with 
its over $1.3 billion in support for Plan Colombia.

According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, "political 
violence has markedly increased since the first installment of the United 
States' $1.3 billion Plan Colombia aid package was dispersed in August to 
an average of 14 deaths per day by combat and political violence.

There were at least 27 massacres in the month of January alone, claiming 
the lives of as many as 300 civilians. The majority of the killings are the 
work of right-wing paramilitaries with close ties to the Colombian military.

Today, U.S.-supplied helicopters using U.S. tax dollars are spraying 
glyphosate or Round-up on subsistence crops such as corn and bananas in 
southern Colombia. Soon there will be widespread hunger in the states of 
Putumayo and Caqueta. All of this is done in order to destroy coca production.

The rationale given to the U.S. public for the more than $1 billion for 
Plan Colombia is that this is part of the "War on Drugs." And yet, decades 
of scientific evidence have shown that source-country eradication efforts 
have no significant effect on drug use in the United States. A recent Rand 
Corporation study suggests that drug treatment is 23 times more cost 
effective in fighting drugs than aerial spraying on coca in source countries.

The United States is rapidly being drawn into a quagmire such as that of 
Vietnam and El Salvador: American advisers, well-armed death squads with 
ties to the military, aerial defoliants and human rights violations.

The Bush administration should end all military aid to Colombia and stop 
aerial fumigation of crops and instead provide funds for crop substitution 
for small farmers, work to strengthen the Colombian state, expropriate land 
of narcotrafficers, be clear and specific about breaking the ties between 
Army and paramilitaries and support the peace process. This conflict cannot 
be won militarily.

Noreen Ordronneau
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth