Pubdate: Mon, 23 Apr 2001
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: William McP. Bigelow


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 more than $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. 
There were at least 27 massacres in the month of January alone claiming the 
lives of as many as 300 civilians.

Today, U.S. supplied helicopters using U.S. tax dollars are spraying 
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.

This conflict cannot be won militarily. Let us not take 10 years and 
thousands of deaths to figure this out.

William McP. Bigelow

Mount Desert 
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom