Pubdate: Fri, 27 Aug 1999
Source: Associated Press
Copyright: 1999 Associated Press


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey
rejected the possibility of American military intervention in
Colombia, insisting Friday that the government in Bogota must confront
the drug trade.

``There will be no U.S. intervention, not even a discussion at all,''
McCaffrey said in Argentina, the final stop of a four-nation tour of
South America. ``It is certainly the viewpoint of those of us in the
United States that the solution can only come from the Colombian

Several visits to Bogota by high-ranking U.S. officials, coupled with
talk of increased U.S. aid and rising concerns in Washington over the
Colombia's situation, have fueled speculation in Colombia of an
imminent U.S. intervention.

McCaffrey, the director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control
Policy, has recently urged the United States to boost its
anti-narcotics spending in the Andean region to $1 billion, with
nearly a third of the funds going to Colombia.

He said along his weeklong tour that Colombia's security problem is
worse than it was four years ago.

Fighting between leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups,
both with ties to the drug trade, has displaced more than 1 million
Colombians. Heroin production is increasing and ``enormous'' drug
resources are going now to leftist guerrillas, McCaffrey said.

``Cocaine production has doubled in three years, heroin production has
grown from zero to 6 metric tons a year, and they are producing
hundreds of millions of dollars that go to armed insurgent groups,''
he said.

Just what role the U.S. government should play has been sharply
debated in Washington, where Republicans argue American aid has been
slow to arrive, hampering the war on drugs in Colombia. Critics worry
that by stepping up aid, the United States could get drawn into bloody
civil war.

McCaffrey said at every stop of his tour that the United States must
remain committed to helping Colombia.

Earlier on his tour, McCaffrey said cocaine consumption in the United
States has declined 70 percent over the last decade, prompting
traffickers to seek new markets in Europe and Asia. He said drug
traders were forging new routes through South America, particularly
through Brazil and Argentina.

McCaffrey's weeklong tour precedes a November summit of 34 nations
from the Americas aimed at developing a program of cooperation against

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