Where taxes are going instead of to treatment and rehabilitation

January 11, 2000

News Article: U.S. Proposes $1.6 Billion to Fight Colombia Drugs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Clinton administration proposed on Tuesday an aid package of $1.6 billion to help Colombia in its struggle to control drug traffickers.

President Clinton said in a written statement that the aid was "urgently needed" to keep illegal drugs off U.S. shores. The $1.6 billion package, spread over this year and next year, would help the Colombian government push into the coca-growing regions of southern Colombia, which are now dominated by insurgent guerrillas.

Funds will help train special counternarcotics battalions, purchase 30 Blackhawk and 33 Huey helicopters, and provide other support. Money would also help Colombia upgrade its intelligence gathering, increase coca crop eradication, promote alternative crops and jobs, and increase protection of human rights and reform the judicial system.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, announcing the package at the White House, said Colombian President Andres Pastrana "deserves our support."



House Panel Okays Colombia Aid, Nixes Drug Treatment Funds


( 3/9/2000 ) The House Appropriations Committee approved $1.7 billion in aid to Colombia -- primarily military aid -- which constituted a $500 million increase over the Clinton Administration's request.

The same day, the Committee rejected a proposed $1.3 billion prevention and treatment package put forward by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Pelosi, the ranking Democrat on the committee, expressed her concern to reporters.

"They want a military solution," she said. "We want a humanitarian solution to the war on drugs. The discussion is not over."

But the debate, in committee at any rate, was certainly over as the Colombian package was approved by a vote of 33-13. Rep. David Obey (D-WI), who joined Pelosi in dissent, sought to have $552 million in military aid held over until the next session, rather than added to the aid package immediately. Obey, however was also rebuffed.

"I think you must have confidence in your president," taunted Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-AL), referring to Clinton's support for military aid to Colombia. "Your lack of confidence in your president is stunning to me."

"I elect my president every four years to be my leader," replied Obey. "But I do not elect my president to do my thinking for me."

No Helicopters to Colombia: Act Now Before May 16th Vote

On May 9th, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill to provide more than a billion dollars of drug war funding, much of it directly to the abusive Colombian military. Colombia's armed forces have been implicated in gross human rights abuses through their covert association with Colombia's underground paramilitary forces -- also known as the "death squads" -- but through the dishonesty of drug czar Barry McCaffrey and some members of Congress, the bill is being put through nonetheless. Opposition is much stiffer than expected, however: 11 out of 26 Senators, five of them Republicans, voted for an amendment to reduce the package by $800 million, and the total size of the package is hundreds of millions of dollars less than originally proposed. The package could come to a vote in the full Senate as soon as this coming Tuesday, May 15th.

Please take two minutes and visit http://www.drcnet.org/stopthehelicopters/ to send a free e-mail or fax to your two Senators. While you are doing that, write down their phone numbers and call them up, or reach them through the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. And most of all, please use the "tell a friend" form to spread the word and help mobilize public opposition to this destructive legislation. Funding this drug war bill will make American taxpayers complicit in the torture and murder of peace and human rights activists, labor organizers, anyone who stands up for the basic rights of all human beings in the troubled nation of Colombia. Yet it will have no impact on the availability of drugs in the US, anymore than the wasted billions spent over the last two decades. So please take two minutes today and visit http://www.drcnet.org/stopthehelicopters/ to help stop this bill in its tracks!