HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Bush Wants Spending On Colombia Drug War Altered Little
Pubdate: Tue, 08 Feb 2005
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2005 The Miami Herald
Author: Pablo Bachelet
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (George Bush)
Bookmark: (Heroin)

Bush Wants Spending on Colombia Drug War Altered Little

President Bush Proposed an Almost-Unchanged Allocation of $550 Million
As Continuation of Antidrug Plan Colombia.

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is proposing to keep military
counter-drug aid to Colombia almost unchanged in the next fiscal year
despite calls by some members of Congress to spend more on social
programs, according to its budget request released Monday.

Bush is asking Congress to allot $550 million to combat drugs in
Colombia in fiscal 2006, with the military and police receiving more
than $393 million -- about $10 million less than in fiscal 2005, a
State Department official said.

Nonmilitary programs would receive only "very tepid" increases, he
added. For instance, funding for programs to help coca farmers switch
to other crops would rise by just $100,000, to $125 million.

Latin America analysts awaited the administration's request with
interest, because Plan Colombia, the broad counter-drug program under
which Washington has pumped more than $3 billion into Colombia since
2000, is due to expire Sept. 30.

But changing the program's balance of military and social components
would risk undercutting some of the recent military gains made by
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a close Bush ally, said the State
Department official, who requested anonymity. "The intent is indeed to
change the focus as the military phase achieves success. We are
achieving success but we're not there yet."

In a statement with the budget request, the White House said it is
"committed to rolling back the drug trade."

Signs of advances in Colombia's drug war include record eradications
of coca plantations through aerial spraying, greater military and
police presence throughout Colombia and the extradition to the United
States of nearly 150 people suspected of drug trafficking, the
statement said.

Although Plan Colombia, launched in 2000 by Presidents Clinton and
Andrs Pastrana, enjoys bipartisan support, the Bush administration
budget request may still face a tough battle in Congress.

Republicans will look for cutbacks in spending "across the board,"
said Adam Isacson, a Plan Colombia watcher with the Washington-based
Center for International Policy. "Democrats are going to try to
increase the social components somewhat, but they don't have a lot of
options to influence the agenda," he said.

In August 2004, House members on appropriations panels recommended
reducing money for Plan Colombia and for other Andean nations. In 2002
Plan Colombia was folded into the Andean Counterdrug Initiative, which
covers the whole region.

Bush proposed $735 million for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative in
fiscal 2006, $4 million more than 2005. Unlike Plan Colombia, the
Andean Counterdrug Initiative has no expiration date.

Some lawmakers also want Bogot to focus more on fighting opium poppy
crops and to take over the management of more of the U.S. antidrug
programs. Although cocaine use is believed to be dropping, Colombia
supplies the vast majority of the heroin sold in the eastern United
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