HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html US Drug Strategy In Colombia 'Flawed'
Pubdate: Sat, 09 Jun 2001
Source: BBC News (UK Web)
Copyright: 2001 BBC


US focus on destroying drug crops is criticised The United States 
should help Colombia combat Marxist insurgents rather than focus on 
fighting drug trafficking, a new report says.

Colombian Labyrinth, a report by the Rand Corporation think-tank, 
says current US strategy in Colombia misses the point that the 
insurgents are taking over large parts of the country.

"The threat of political and military deterioration in Colombia could 
soon confront the United States with its most serious security crisis 
in the hemisphere since the Central American wars of the 1980s," the 
report says.

It suggests the US should step up assistance to help Colombia 
strengthen its armed forces and state institutions.

Washington should also work with Colombia's neighbours to contain the 
risk of violence spilling over and pave the way for a multilateral 
response force if these efforts fail.

Plan Colombia

The US Congress approved a $1bn programme towards Colombia's 
counter-narcotics offensive, thorough the purchase of helicopters, 
equipment and training.

But the Rand analysis questioned the Plan Colombia strategy which 
includes destroying drug plantations through aerial fumigation.

It warned that in the absence of an effective crop substitution 
programme, destroying drug plantations would simply displace growers 
and increase support for the guerrillas.

"Alternative strategies, such as targeting bottlenecks in the drug 
refining and transportation network in Colombia, should be explored," 
Rand said.

It noted that far from having been defeated, the insurgents held the 
operational and tactical initiative - the largest guerrilla group, 
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) has been growing 
stronger since the 1980s.

"The illegal self-defence forces, or paramilitaries, have been 
growing in strength in areas where the government is unable to 
provide security to the population," Rand said.

"They will continue to be a factor as long as the conditions that 
gave rise to them are not changed."

In a reaction, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said he 
had not seen the report but dismissed any plans for a multinational 
force to combat the problem.
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