Pubdate: Mon, 12 Aug 2002
Source: Indianapolis Star (IN)
Copyright: 2002 Indianapolis Newspapers Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Lee Hamilton has good reason to question U.S. aid to Colombia (Aug. 5 
column). Not only is our government turning a blind eye to paramilitary 
human rights violations, but a very real environmental threat is being ignored.

In an effort to eradicate coca plants, toxic herbicides are sprayed from 
above, hitting water supplies, staple crops and people. The aerial 
eradication campaign drives peasants farther into the Amazon basin, which 
in turn leads to more rain forest destruction.

Colombia could very well spread both coca production and civil war 
throughout South America. U.S. tax dollars would be better spent addressing 
the underlying socioeconomic causes of civil strife rather than applying 
overwhelming military force to attack the symptoms. We're not doing the 
Colombian people any favors by funding civil war. Nor are Americans being 
protected from drugs.

Destroy the Colombian coca crop, and production will boom in Peru, Bolivia 
and Ecuador. Destroy every last plant in South America, and domestic 
methamphetamine production will increase to meet the demand for 
cocaine-like drugs. The self-professed champions of the free market in 
Congress are seemingly incapable of applying basic economic principles to 
drug policy. Instead of waging a futile supply-side war abroad, we should 
be funding cost-effective drug treatment here at home.

Robert Sharpe, Program officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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