Pubdate: Sat, 27 Nov 2004
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2004 The Washington Post Company
Page: B06
Author: Carleton B. Spotts


President Bush has vowed to renew "Plan Colombia" -- a package that
Congress was promised would end in 2005 -- for another five years
["Bush Stops in Colombia, Pledges Aid for Drug War," news story, Nov.
23]. That could mean $3 billion or more in taxpayer funds going to
fund an inhumane counter-narcotics effort and to prop up an abusive

Mr. Bush and President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia say that the plan has
reduced drug cultivation -- but the point of Plan Colombia was to make
drugs less available in the United States. Neither the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration's 2003 report nor the U.S. drug czar's
January report noted any increase in the price of a gram of cocaine on
U.S. streets -- in fact, the price has been almost unchanged since
1995. The DEA report also found that availability and purity of
cocaine in the United States remained stable. So why are we continuing
to support a policy that doesn't work?

Further, the Colombian military has a long history of human rights
abuses, but rather than insisting on reforms, the United States has
rewarded the military with more aid.

This support is dangerous. In August, three Colombian union leaders --
Jorge Prieto, Leonel Goyeneche and Hector Alirio Martinez -- were
found murdered by members of the U.S.-trained 18th brigade of the
Colombian army. The brigade's commander said that the three were
Marxist guerrillas and were killed during a shootout. Colombia's vice
president, who originally supported the commander's story, has since
acknowledged that there was no gun battle. The soldiers involved have
been charged with homicide, but the Colombian government is not
looking into the role of the brigade's commander or other superiors.

Carleton B. Spotts

Columbia, Mo.
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