[Senate Prints 106-51]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]




106th Congress 
 2d Session                 COMMITTEE PRINT                     S. Prt.
                                                                 106-51
_______________________________________________________________________
                                   
 
     AID TO ``PLAN COLOMBIA'': THE TIME FOR U.S. ASSISTANCE IS NOW

                               __________

                                A REPORT

                                 TO THE

                     COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                                   BY

                          JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR.

                       One Hundred Sixth Congress

                                May 2000

                                     






    Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations



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                         COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
                           JESSE HELMS, North Carolina, Chairman


RICHARD, G. LUGAR, Indiana               JOSEPH R. BIDEN, Jr., Delaware
CHUCK HAGEL, Nebraska                    PAUL S. SARBANES, Maryland
GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon                  CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut
ROD GRAMS, Minnesota                     JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas                    RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, Wisconsin
CRAIG THOMAS, Wyoming                    PAUL D. WELLSTONE, Minnesota
JOHN ASHCROFT, Missouri                  BARBARA BOXER, California
BILL FRIST, Tennessee                    ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey
LINCOLN D. CHAFEE, Rhode Island
                       Stephen E. Biegun, Staff Director
                       Edwin K. Hall, Minority Staff Director




                                 (ii)















                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                                                       May 3, 2000.
The Honorable Jesse Helms,
Chairman,
Committee on Foreign Relations.

    Dear Mr. Chairman:
    On April 19 and 20, I traveled to Colombia to examine 
counter-narcotics programs there. In particular, my objective 
was to discuss the ``Plan Colombia'' proposed by the Colombian 
Government, and the U.S. proposal to assist the plan. While 
there, I met extensively with President Pastrana, Minister of 
Defense Ramirez, the President's Chief of Staff, Jaime Ruiz, 
U.S. Ambassador Curt Kamman, and senior Embassy officials. I 
also met with representatives of Colombian non-governmental 
organizations working on human rights, and representatives of 
the Colombian offices of two U.N. agencies.
    I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Colombian 
Government, particularly President Pastrana, for facilitating 
my visit. President Pastrana graciously hosted me at his 
government guest house in Cartagena. I also owe much to U.S. 
Ambassador Curt Kamman, Political Counselor Leslie Bassett (who 
served as the delegation control officer), and other staff of 
the Embassy who traveled with us to Cartagena.
    I was accompanied and assisted on the trip by Minority 
Counsel Brian McKeon, and Professional Staff Member Marcia Lee. 
They also traveled to Colombia in March for four days, during 
which they conducted numerous meetings and visited forward 
operating locations in southern Colombia. Some portions of this 
report are based on their work in March.
    The delegation was ably assisted throughout the trip by Lt. 
Cdr. Valerie Ulatowski, USN, to whom I am extremely grateful.
    I came away from my visit convinced that the U.S. Congress 
should act quickly to approve President Clinton's request for 
supplemental funding for Colombia. Unless the Congress acts 
quickly to approve funding for this plan, a critical 
opportunity in the fight against narcotics trafficking in 
Colombia may be lost.
    I understand the Committee on Appropriations will soon 
mark-up the Fiscal Year 2001 foreign operations appropriations 
bill, as well as the Colombia supplemental for Fiscal 2000. I 
hope this report will be useful to the Senate during 
consideration of this important issue.
            Sincerely,
                              Joseph R. Biden, Jr.,
                                   Ranking Minority Member.

                                 (iii)


                                     

















                            C O N T E N T S

                              ----------                              

                                                                       
Letter of Transmittal............................................   III
Key Findings and Recommendations.................................     1
Overview: Aid to ``Plan Colombia'' is a Critical Opportunity for 
  the United States..............................................     2
Background on Colombia and Plan Colombia.........................     4
      A. Overview of the situation in Colombia...................     4
      B. U.S.-Colombian relations and the background to Plan 
      Colombia...................................................     5
Narcotics issues.................................................     6
      A. Background on the current narcotics situation...........     6
      B. Key issues in implementation of Plan Colombia...........     8
      C. Colombian Government and Plan Colombia..................    15
Human Rights issues..............................................    16
Schedule of meetings.............................................    18

                                Appendix

Statements by the President of the United States.................    21
Table of U.S. Assistance to Colombia, FY 1995-2000...............    24
Table of Support for Plan Colombia...............................    25
Excerpt from State Department Report: International Narcotics 
  Control Strategy Report, March 2000............................    33
Table of Worldwide Illicit Drug Cultivation 1991-1999............    42
Table of Worldwide Illicit Drug Production 1991-1999.............    43
Remarks of Andres Pastrana Arango, President of the Republic of 
  Colombia, at the American Society of Newspaper Editors.........    44

                                  (v)

  


                            Map of Colombia










                    KEY FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

                              ----------                              

    1. The United States has a rare enforcement opportunity in 
Colombia. Colombia today is the primary source of cocaine and 
heroin sold in the United States. It is the primary source of 
the raw material (coca leaf and opium poppy), the primary site 
of the major laboratories, and the primary site of the leading 
trafficking organizations. Never before in recent history has 
there been such an opportunity to strike at all aspects of the 
drug trade at the source. We also have an important opportunity 
because of the strong commitment of the Government of Colombia 
to fight narcotics trafficking. The United States should seize 
this rare enforcement opportunity by providing assistance to 
Plan Colombia.
    2. The security crisis in southern Colombia warrants 
increased U.S. counter-narcotics assistance. Guerrilla fronts 
have a heavy presence in southern Colombia and have a 
significant role in protecting drug trafficking operations. 
Similarly, right-wing paramilitary organizations are operating 
in portions of southern Colombia. Because of security concerns, 
U.S.-Colombian coca eradication operations were temporarily 
suspended in late March. Increased U.S. assistance to Colombian 
military units which will assist the Colombian National Police 
in counter-narcotics operations is warranted by the serious 
guerrilla and paramilitary threat to the Police.
    3. There are considerable costs associated with Congress' 
delay in approving the Colombia supplemental. Among the costs 
are delayed delivery of the Blackhawk helicopters, delays in 
training of the Colombian counter-narcotics battalions (which 
have already occurred), and reduction in U.S.-Colombian 
eradication operations. The delay also undermines President 
Pastrana's ability to implement Plan Colombia.
    4. The U.S. and Colombian Governments should ensure that 
Plan Colombia focuses on drug trafficking both in the north and 
south of Colombia. Plan Colombia focuses initially on southern 
Colombia, where guerrilla organizations predominate. The plan 
should also focus on coca trafficking in the north of Colombia, 
where paramilitary organizations predominate. This is necessary 
not only to demonstrate that no trafficking organization is 
immune from attack, but also to contain the further spread of 
narcotics trafficking in the north.
    5. The Colombian Government should continue to make strong 
efforts to improve the human rights record of the Colombian 
Armed Forces, and to prosecute all violations of human rights. 
U.S. engagement with Colombia is an important factor in 
continued improvement of the human rights situation in 
Colombia. President Pastrana reiterated his personal 
commitment, and that of the Colombian Government, to improving 
human rights. Congress should consider increasing the amount of 
U.S. assistance proposed for human rights efforts.
    6. Coordination between the Army and the Police needs 
improvement. Important to the success of the military component 
of Plan Colombia will be coordination between the Colombian 
Army and the Colombian National Police. There are indications 
that the Police are unreceptive to working closely with the 
Army. Similarly, the Army counter-narcotics battalion at Tres 
Esquinas has conducted operations unilaterally--without 
including the police in planning or giving them adequate notice 
to participate. The United States must continually emphasize to 
the Colombian Government the importance of improving Army-CNP 
cooperation.
    7. The United States is well-served by the Country Team, 
but more staff are needed. The U.S. Embassy team working on 
Plan Colombia is led by a veteran Ambassador, is highly 
motivated and is working diligently to advance U.S. counter-
narcotics objectives. Morale appears to be high. But the 
Narcotics Affairs Section is understaffed and needs additional 
personnel, and the Political Section needs additional officers 
to monitor human rights.

 Overview: Aid to ``Plan Colombia'' is a Critical Opportunity for the 
                             United States

    Since February, a request by President Clinton to provide 
nearly $1 billion in supplemental funding in Fiscal 2000 to 
help Colombia and its neighbors fight drug trafficking has been 
pending in Congress. The request was approved by the House of 
Representatives in March, but it has since languished in the 
Senate.
    During the Easter recess, I traveled to Colombia for a 
first-hand look at the situation and to discuss U.S. and 
Colombian counter-narcotics programs with senior Colombian 
Government officials, U.S. Embassy officials, and 
representatives of non-governmental and international 
organizations.
    I spent several hours over the course of two days with 
President Pastrana, who graciously hosted me at the 
presidential guest house in Cartagena. I believe that my 
lengthy meetings with him, mostly in informal settings, 
afforded me the opportunity to take the full measure of the 
man. I am fully convinced of President Pastrana's personal 
commitment to the counter-narcotics effort. I also spent 
several hours with U.S. Ambassador Curt Kamman and his team, 
both in Bogota and in Cartagena. I was deeply impressed by the 
dedication, knowledge and commitment of the senior Embassy 
team.
    I came away from my visit convinced that the U.S. Congress 
should act quickly to approve President Clinton's request for 
supplemental funding for Colombia. Unless the Congress acts 
quickly to approve funding for this plan, a critical 
opportunity in the fight against narcotics trafficking in 
Colombia may be lost. Colombia today is the primary source for 
two leading narcotics sold on the streets of the United States: 
cocaine and heroin. It is the primary source for the raw 
materials (coca leaf and opium poppy), the site of the major 
processing labs, and the site of the major trafficking 
organizations. Never before in recent history has there been 
such an opportunity for the international community to strike 
against the bulk of the narcotics industry at the source.
    Colombia today has a president committed to working closely 
with the United States. He has developed a $7.5 billion dollar 
plan--``Plan Colombia''--to fight traffickers and revive his 
country's economy. President Clinton has proposed that the 
United States provide $1.6 billion to assist Colombia and other 
Andean nations, or about 20 percent of the plan. International 
financial institutions have provided nearly $1 billion. Europe 
and Japan are being asked to contribute as well.
    Every day that the Senate delays imposes a cost on this 
plan and to U.S.-Colombian counter-narcotics efforts. 
Production of the proposed helicopters will be delayed, as will 
training of the necessary pilots. Training of two Colombian 
counter-narcotics battalions has already been delayed. The 
Colombian effort to raise money from Europe is proceeding 
slowly in part because of hesitation in Washington. Most 
important, delay in Washington undermines President Pastrana 
and his ability to implement the plan in Colombia.
    Helping Colombia is squarely in America's national 
interest. It is the source of many of the drugs poisoning our 
people. It is not some far-off land with which the United 
States shares little in common. It is an established democracy 
in America's backyard--just a few hours by air from Miami.
    Colombia is hardly a stranger to the drug war. It has been 
battling this scourge for decades. In the 1980s, its equivalent 
of the Supreme Court was attacked by traffickers. A decade ago, 
its presidential candidates were gunned down. The current 
president, when a candidate for Mayor of Bogota, was kidnapped 
by traffickers. The people of Colombia have demonstrated great 
courage in fighting drug trafficking. Colombia has achieved 
some major successes in this effort--in the 1990s it dismantled 
the major cartels in Medellin and Cali--cartels that a decade 
ago were thought to be invincible. Last October, in a joint 
U.S.-Colombian operation, over 30 major traffickers were 
arrested on the same day.
    America's apparently insatiable demand for narcotics has, 
undeniably, helped fuel the drug trade in Colombia. Colombia 
seeks significant U.S. assistance to help confront this trade--
and is pledging substantial funds and action by its government. 
Colombia has a highly professional police force dedicated to 
counter-narcotics, and now requests U.S. assistance to train 
and professionalize military units that will be used against 
narcotics traffickers. I believe the United States should 
answer Colombia's call for help.
    There is, to be sure, no guarantee that this plan will work 
in significantly reducing narcotics trafficking. Anybody who 
says they are certain that it will succeed is either lying or 
is a fool. But in my 28 years in the Senate, I have been deeply 
involved in studying and debating narcotics policy. I strongly 
believe that at this moment, with this president in Bogota, we 
have a real opportunity to make a significant difference 
against the drug trade in Colombia. That opportunity could slip 
away unless we seize this rare enforcement moment.

                Background on Colombia and Plan Colombia


                a. overview of the situation in colombia


    Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin 
America, with just under 40 million people. It is the second 
oldest democracy in the Western Hemisphere, after the United 
States. Unlike many countries in Latin America, it has rarely 
been subject to military dictatorship. Military rulers have 
governed Colombia for only three brief periods since the 
formation of the republic in the early 19th century; the last 
time was over forty years ago. Today, as democracies across the 
Andes are threatened by renewed rumblings from military 
barracks, or authoritarian tendencies by incumbent leaders, 
Colombia remains squarely and unalterably in the camp of 
democratic nations.
    Although civilian rule has been the norm, it has not spared 
Colombia from instability. Rather, Colombian history has long 
been marked by internal conflict. During the late 1940s and 
1950s, for example, Colombia went through a civil conflict 
referred to as ``La Violencia,'' during which over 200,000 
people were killed. The violence ended when the two major 
parties, the Liberals and Conservatives, agreed on a 16-year 
period of ``National Front'' government during which the two 
parties rotated the presidency and had parity in other elected 
offices.
    It might be said that Colombia is going through a second--
or perhaps extension of--``La Violencia.'' Colombia today is 
wracked by violence. It faces a three-front war: with drug 
traffickers, with left-wing guerrillas, and with right-wing 
paramilitaries. These fronts are often intertwined; for 
example, guerrillas and paramilitaries both cooperate with drug 
traffickers, and the paramilitaries cooperate with the armed 
forces. None of these groups are monoliths; there are numerous 
drug trafficking organizations, two guerrilla groups, and 
numerous right-wing paramilitary groups. The Colombian 
Government actively fights on two of these fronts: against the 
drug traffickers and the guerrillas, and occasionally fights, 
but occasionally cooperates with, the right-wing 
paramilitaries. At the same time, the government is engaged in 
peace negotiations with both guerrilla groups, and has agreed 
to ``demilitarized zones'' for both of them.
    The violence associated with the civil conflict and drug 
trafficking has been accompanied by an erosion of the rule of 
law. Last year, for example, there were some 25,000 murders in 
Colombia (this far exceeds the murder rate in the United 
States--a country with more than six times the population of 
Colombia--where there were about 17,000 murders in 1998). Of 
these, about 2,000-3,000 were considered to be ``political'' 
crimes, that is, crimes related to the civil conflict. The rest 
were common criminal murders. Kidnaping is also widespread: 
there were over 2,500 last year, which is one out of every 
three kidnapings in the world. Justice is often denied. A 
recent judicial report in Colombia found that 63 percent of 
crimes go unreported, and that 40 percent of all reported 
crimes go unpunished. Because of the violence, particularly the 
risk of kidnaping, the State Department currently warns U.S. 
citizens against traveling to Colombia, and states that ``there 
is a greater risk of being kidnaped in Colombia than in any 
other country in the world.''
    Colombia is, as it has long been, the source of up to 75 
percent of the world's processed cocaine (cocaine HCL). It now 
also holds the dubious distinction of being the world's leading 
producer of cocaine base (the intermediate step prior to 
cocaine HCL), as reductions in cultivation in Bolivia and Peru 
have pushed cultivation into Colombia. Colombia is also the 
leading supplier of heroin to the United States.
    Colombia is currently suffering through a recession. Its 
gross domestic product fell by 3.5 percent in 1999, the first 
time the Colombian economy suffered negative growth in three 
decades. Unemployment at the end of 1999 was around 20 percent; 
inflation was over 9 percent. And approximately one million 
people (out of a total population of about 40 million) have 
been internally displaced in the last several years because of 
the civil conflict.


    b. u.s.-colombian relations and the background to plan colombia


    U.S.-Colombian relations have historically been strong. 
Under the previous Colombian president, however, the 
relationship soured because of credible allegations that he 
received financial contributions for his 1994 presidential 
campaign from drug traffickers. This led President Clinton to 
twice ``decertify'' Colombia under the Foreign Assistance Act. 
A general reduction in the level of cooperation between the 
United States and Colombia also resulted.
    The inauguration of President Andres Pastrana in August 
1998 changed the atmosphere in the U.S.-Colombian relationship. 
President Pastrana made restoration of strong relations with 
the United States a high priority, and he has succeeded in that 
objective.
    Undoubtedly, President Pastrana has demonstrated his 
commitment to a key issue for the United States--the fight 
against narcotics trafficking. Among other things, Pastrana has 
released a first-ever national drug strategy, and renewed 
extradition of criminals to the United States, as authorized by 
a December 1997 constitutional amendment. He has also 
formulated a plan to combat drug trafficking and revive the 
economy, which he has called ``Plan Colombia''. Announced in 
September 1999, the plan calls for a $7.5 billion investment 
over three years (2000-2002); of this, the Colombian Government 
would provide $4 billion, and would seek the remaining $3.5 
billion from the international community. As articulated by the 
Colombian Government, Plan Colombia focuses on five areas:

    1. The peace process (i.e., negotiations with the 
guerrillas);
    2. The economy;
    3. The counter-drug strategy;
    4. Reform of the justice system and protection of human 
rights;
    5. Democratization and social development.

    In January 2000, President Clinton announced his proposal 
for U.S. support of Plan Colombia: a two year, $1.6 billion 
contribution. Of this amount, approximately $150 million is the 
base Colombia program for Fiscal 2000 and 2001. The enhanced 
funding would include $954 million in supplemental 
appropriations in Fiscal 2000, and an additional $318 million 
in Fiscal 2001. The supplemental request was approved by the 
House of Representatives on March 30, and is currently pending 
before the Senate.

                            Narcotics Issues


            a. background on the current narcotics situation


1. Trafficking Organizations
    Organizationally, the drug trade in Colombia is no longer 
dominated by major cartels based in Medellin and Cali, as it 
was a decade ago. Because of law enforcement pressure by the 
U.S. and Colombian Governments in the early and mid-1990s, 
these cartels have been largely dismantled, and their leaders 
killed or imprisoned. The result has been what the Drug 
Enforcement Administration (DEA) aptly terms the 
``decentralization'' of the trade, with numerous smaller 
trafficking organizations emerging, the rise of independent 
traffickers in Bolivia and Peru producing their own cocaine 
HCL, and changes in the distribution networks such that Mexican 
organizations are not merely middlemen for the Colombians, they 
now have their own distribution networks in the United States.
2. Production and cultivation
    The organizational changes described above have not 
affected Colombia's role as the source of the large majority of 
processed cocaine, or cocaine HCL (up to 75 percent of the 
world's cocaine HCL comes from Colombia). Because of 
enforcement pressure in Bolivia and Peru, much cultivation has 
shifted to Colombia. As recently as 1995, Colombia only 
produced about 25 percent of the world's cocaine base; it is 
now the world's leading producer, at about 68 percent. Coca 
cultivation is literally exploding in Colombia: in the last 
four years, net coca cultivation has more than doubled in terms 
of area, from 51,000 hectares in 1995 to 122,500 hectares in 
1999. Moreover, a recent U.S. intelligence study determined 
that Colombian leaf produced a higher yield than previously 
thought, and that Colombian labs were more efficient than 
previously thought. Colombia's estimated potential cocaine 
production in 1999 was 520 metric tons; this compares to 70 
metric tons in Bolivia, and 175 metric tons in Peru.
    Much of this new cultivation is in southern Colombia, 
primarily in two departments (or provinces), Putumayo and 
Caqueta. The government does not have much of an institutional 
presence in this region--that is, there are few roads, schools, 
or hospitals--and has not for most of the history of the 
republic. It is remote and much of it is jungle. There is also 
significant cultivation in two northern departments, Norte de 
Santander and Bolivar.
    Nearly half of the coca in the country--about 56,000 
hectares--is cultivated in Putumayo Department. Although I did 
not visit southern Colombia, in March two members of the 
Committee staff visited three forward Army and Police bases in 
Putumayo and Caqueta Departments, and rode on Colombian 
National Police helicopters to witness an eradication operation 
(i.e., fumigation of coca leaves) in Caqueta. They also flew by 
plane over portions of Putumayo Department where significant 
cultivation occurs. In Caqueta, much of the cultivation the 
staff saw was somewhat hidden, at least on the ground, within 
wooded areas. That is, the peasants clear-cut several acres of 
jungle to grow a plot of coca, but attempted to keep the 
presence of the field hidden on the ground (though it obviously 
cannot be hidden from aerial view). In Putumayo, there was no 
such effort to hide the plots of coca: it was out in the open, 
and went on and on for hundreds of acres.
    In addition to coca cultivation, Colombia is now the 
leading source of heroin sold in the United States. Starting 
from almost nothing a decade ago, the opium and heroin trade 
has expanded significantly: by 1993, Colombian heroin accounted 
for 15 percent of the U.S. supply, and by 1998 it accounted for 
65 percent. In 1999, Colombia produced an estimated 8 metric 
tons of heroin, more than Mexico. Though it amounts to only a 
small percentage of the world's heroin supply, Colombian heroin 
dominates the trade in New York and other East Coast cities; it 
is high quality and of high purity, allowing it to be smoked 
rather than injected.
3. Involvement of guerrillas and paramilitaries in narcotics 
        trafficking
    In addition to the drug trafficking organizations, both 
left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries are involved 
in the Colombian drug trade.
    The two major guerrilla groups in Colombia are the 
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (commonly referred to by 
its Spanish-language acronym of ``FARC''), and the National 
Liberation Army (or ELN). The FARC is the larger of the two--it 
is believed to have about 10,000-14,000 personnel, and is 
better trained and equipped. It operates primarily in the south 
and eastern lowlands, though it has some urban cells. The ELN 
has about 3,000-6,000 personnel and operates primarily in the 
north and the center of the country.
    It would be ``misleading,'' says an unclassified portion of 
an otherwise classified DEA report, to characterize the FARC or 
ELN as drug cartels per se. Rather, they assist traffickers by 
providing security for drug operations and assisting in 
transportation of narcotics. They also impose taxes, not only 
on the drug trade but all economic activity in areas they 
control. In some areas, they allegedly establish the price paid 
to peasants for coca leaf. Estimates of the profits the 
guerrillas derive from this activity vary significantly, from a 
few hundred million dollars to nearly $2 billion per year (this 
higher end estimate was provided by a Colombian Army official, 
and it appears to be greatly inflated).
    Right-wing paramilitary groups are also involved in the 
drug trade, and some of them are considered to be traffickers. 
The paramilitaries were originally formed in the 1980s as a 
response to guerrilla violence, and several of these were 
originally authorized by the government to protect rural areas. 
These groups are now illegal. The leader of the largest 
umbrella group of paramilitaries is Carlos Castano, the leader 
of the ``Peasant Self-Defense Groups of Cordoba and Uraba 
(ACCU).'' Most paramilitary operations are in the north, though 
they do have a presence in the south. Like the guerrillas, most 
of the paramilitary groups do not appear to be directly 
involved in any significant drug cultivation, but instead levy 
taxes and protect the traffickers. The DEA recently testified, 
however, that Castano's organization, and possibly other 
paramilitary groups, ``appear to be directly involved in 
processing cocaine,'' and that ``at least one of these 
paramilitary groups appears to be involved in exporting cocaine 
from Colombia.''


            b. key issues in implementation of plan colombia


    During my visit, I focused on several key issues related to 
the implementation of Plan Colombia by the Colombian Government 
and the U.S. Government.
1. The military component of U.S. assistance for Plan Colombia--and the 
        need for it
    A key component of the U.S. contribution to Plan Colombia 
is military assistance, specifically, the training and 
equipping of three Colombian Army counter-narcotics battalions. 
One battalion of about 950 men was trained last year by U.S. 
forces, and is now in place at the Tres Esquinas base in 
southern Caqueta Department. Together the three battalions will 
form a brigade, just under 3,000 strong.
    The basic argument for training and equipping the Colombian 
Army--rather than the Colombian National Police (CNP), the 
primary counter-narcotics agency in Colombia--is that the CNP 
lacks the muscle to take on the guerrillas and paramilitaries 
that are involved in drug trafficking in southern Colombia. In 
other words, because the guerrillas and paramilitaries often 
protect traffickers and their operations, the police cannot go 
after the traffickers without also risking encounters with 
well-armed irregular forces. And, because the police are 
primarily a law enforcement agency, it lacks the military power 
and training to confront the well-trained and well-equipped 
FARC fronts and paramilitary units.
    It bears emphasis that the United States is hardly 
neglecting the CNP with this plan. It has provided over $775 
million in support for the CNP since the mid-1980s, and the 
Administration proposal provides roughly $100 million in 
additional equipment and training for the CNP.
    The security threat in Colombia warrants increased U.S. 
counter-narcotics assistance. Numerous FARC fronts (the 
estimate of how many is classified), as well as paramilitary 
units operate in the south. Nearly half of the coca leaf grown 
in Colombia is located in Putumayo Department. There is a 
continuous security threat to the current U.S.-Colombian 
eradication operations. In March, the State Department 
temporarily suspended day-time coca spraying operations because 
of the security situation. During the past four years 
(including the first three months of this year), U.S.-CNP spray 
planes in Colombia were hit over 100 times by groundfire, 
including 21 times in the last six months alone. Because of the 
threat from groundfire, two helicopter gunships and a search 
and rescue helicopter continually accompany the spray planes.
    U.S. assistance to the battalions will be in two basic 
forms: training by U.S. military forces, and equipment, 
particularly helicopters. Most of the training will be 
conducted in Colombia by U.S. Special Forces on temporary duty. 
Some of the training, particularly for the brigade headquarters 
staff, will be conducted in the United States. Anywhere from 20 
to 160 U.S. personnel will be involved in training at any one 
time. Some training missions will be conducted at forward 
operating bases in Colombia.
    The training will be just that: training. Pursuant to a 
Department of Defense memorandum issued by Secretary of Defense 
Cohen in October 1998, Defense Department personnel are 
prohibited from accompanying foreign law enforcement and 
military forces on actual counterdrug field operations or 
``participating in any activity in which counterdrug-related 
hostilities are imminent.'' Moreover, they are prohibited by 
the same directive from accompanying such law enforcement 
forces outside a secure base or area. Secretary Cohen 
reemphasized these points in a memorandum to Joint Chiefs 
Chairman Shelton in March 2000.
    In addition to training the battalions, the United States 
will fill a key shortfall in the Colombian military arsenal: 
tactical mobility. Under the U.S. contribution to the Plan, the 
United States will provide 30 UH-60 helicopters (Blackhawks) to 
the Colombian Army. The Blackhawks will be newly procured from 
the contractor, Sikorsky Helicopters. Delivery of the 
helicopters will be at a rate of two per month, and is 
projected to begin in early 2001. In the interim, 15 additional 
UH-1Ns (Hueys) will be provided to Colombia, which will add to 
the 18 already in country. Up to six of these Hueys, however, 
will likely be diverted from Colombian counter-narcotics 
operations for use in training additional Colombian pilots.
2. The costs of delaying the supplemental
    There are considerable costs associated with Congress' 
delay in passing the supplemental appropriations that would 
provide nearly $1 billion in assistance for Colombia in Fiscal 
2000.
    First, delay exacerbates the lag time for procurement of 
the Blackhawks, the training of the pilots and the building of 
the infrastructure to house and maintain them. Even if the 
supplemental were enacted today, the first Blackhawks could not 
be delivered until next year due to production schedules.
    Second, the training for the second and third counter-
narcotics battalions has been delayed because of uncertainties 
about the funding for Colombia. Training of the second 
battalion was scheduled to begin in early April. Because the 
entire training schedule was due to occur in sequence--that is, 
training of the second battalion followed by training of the 
third--the entire training schedule will now likely be pushed 
back.
    Third, because of the delay in the supplemental, the Huey 
helicopters that are currently in Colombia and designated for 
the counter-narcotics battalions are not yet forward deployed--
for the simple reason that funds are not available, because 
they were to be provided by the United States under the 
supplemental. Consequently, the initial counter-narcotics 
battalion at Tres Esquinas is greatly hampered in its range of 
operation. To date, it has conducted operations only on foot.
    Fourth, the State Department has forward-funded some 
eradication operations in Colombia because it expected the 
supplemental to pass by now. The Department increased the 
operating tempo of eradication, in effect gambling that the 
money from Congress would soon arrive. It was a reasonable 
gamble given the original reception to President Clinton's 
proposal and the recent successes in eradication. But the 
gamble has not worked. The State Department just laid off 40 
contract employees, severely reducing spraying operations in 
Guaviare Department, where there has been significant success 
in spraying in recent years.
    Fifth, the delay in approving the supplemental undermines 
Colombia's efforts to raise funds from Europe and Japan. In 
April, President Pastrana met with British Prime Minister Tony 
Blair, and in March his foreign minister traveled to Tokyo to 
seek help from Japan. This summer, Spain will host a conference 
of donor countries to garner more international support. But, 
in the face of inaction on our part, all those efforts may be a 
waste of time. I do not expect Europe and Japan to contribute 
to Plan Colombia unless the U.S. Congress takes the first step.
    Finally, and most important, we need to move now because we 
have a limited window. President Pastrana is an ally of the 
United States. But he is only going to be president for two and 
one-half more years. The hesitation of the United States has a 
negative psychological effect in Colombia and Pastrana's effort 
to push forward his strategy. Every day we wait to pass the 
spending bill means one less day that Pastrana will have to 
implement Plan Colombia. And every day that we delay, more coca 
seeds are planted, more coca leaf is processed, and more 
cocaine is shipped to this country.
3. What does the Plan do to counter trafficking by paramilitaries?
    The debate in the U.S. Congress to date has focused in part 
on suggestions that the ``push into southern Colombia'' may be 
a counter-insurgency in disguise--in that the south is also the 
area where the stronger of the two guerrilla groups, the FARC, 
predominates.
    During my visit to Colombia, I impressed upon Colombian and 
U.S. Embassy officials about the importance of taking actions 
against paramilitary trafficking in the north of the country 
simultaneously with the push into the south--not only to 
demonstrate that no trafficking organization is immune from 
attack, but also to contain the further spread of narcotics 
trafficking in the north.
    The push into southern Colombian will in fact engage 
paramilitaries. Although it is not well known in this country, 
hundreds of paramilitaries are struggling with the FARC for 
control of the drug trade in Putumayo province. Operations 
against drug trafficking in Putumayo will not be targeted 
against organizations because of their political views, they 
will be targeted against drug traffickers.
    In addition, the plan contemplates operations against drug 
trafficking elsewhere in the country during the second phase, 
beginning during the second year. Finally, senior Embassy 
personnel indicated that it was an achievable objective to 
undertake operations against coca cultivation in the north of 
the country--where paramilitary organization predominate--
simultaneous with the ``push into southern Colombia.''
4. Concerns about coordination between the CNP and the Armed Forces
    The military assistance component of Plan Colombia is 
predicated on the need for the Colombian Army to secure 
portions of southern Colombia so that police operations, and 
ultimately alternative development programs, can occur. The 
Colombian Army counter-narcotics battalions will not operate 
alone, because, as is the case with the U.S. military, there 
are legal restrictions on its ability to conduct law 
enforcement operations. Rather, they must coordinate their 
operations with the CNP, which has the law enforcement 
authority and expertise to make arrests and take down 
laboratories.
    The CNP is formally part of the Ministry of National 
Defense, but, as with any military establishment, there are 
institutional rivalries between the CNP and the other services. 
The rivalry between the CNP and the Army goes back at least 
half a century, when the two services backed different 
political parties during ``La Violencia.''
    The U.S. Government recognizes the importance of improving 
the joint efforts of the two services. During an appearance 
before the Committee on Foreign Relations on February 25, Brian 
Sheridan, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special 
Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, testified that the 
Colombian military needs to ``better coordinate operations 
between the services and with the CNP.'' There are indications 
that the police are unreceptive to working closely with the 
Army. Similarly, the Army counter-narcotics battalion based at 
Tres Esquinas has undertaken several operations on foot 
unilaterally. These were not mere training missions: there was 
a counter-narcotics objective to each operation (typically a 
cocaine laboratory). The Army has failed to properly coordinate 
these operations in advance with the CNP, but instead gave the 
police only a few hours' notice that the operation was 
imminent--leaving the CNP inadequate time to prepare for the 
mission.
    Coordination between the two services will be essential to 
the success of the ``push into southern Colombia.'' The United 
States must make it a high priority to foster and encourage 
coordination between the two services. Embassy officials are 
aware of this objective, and appear to be taking steps to 
promote it. So, too, are Colombian Government officials. I 
spoke at length about this issue with the President and the 
Minister of Defense, and impressed upon them the urgent need to 
improve coordination. The message should be constantly 
emphasized by the United States.
5. Security at forward operating bases
    In March, the Committee staff took a day-long trip to 
southern Colombia, namely Caqueta and Putumayo Departments. 
They visited the Larandia base in northwest Caqueta, the Army 
base at Tres Esquinas (on the Caqueta-Putumayo border in the 
western portion of Caqueta), and the CNP base at Villa Garzon 
in Putumayo Department.
    Because of time constraints and the Easter holiday period, 
I was unable to visit southern Colombia. I did, however, 
discuss the security issue with the U.S. Ambassador and the 
head of the U.S. Military Group at the Embassy. I impressed 
upon them the need to do everything possible to strengthen 
security at the forward bases.
    The key question for the United States is whether there is 
adequate security at the bases where U.S. trainers will be 
located during the training of the Colombian counter-narcotics 
battalions. It is currently anticipated that some training of 
the counter-narcotics battalions will be held at Larandia and 
Tres Esquinas, which are in southern Colombia in areas where 
FARC fronts operate.
    There is no such thing as perfect security, and it is 
unlikely that Colombian bases will ever meet standards of U.S. 
military bases. But U.S. forces should not be exposed to undue 
risk. Assistant Secretary of Defense Brian Sheridan stated in 
response to a question for the record after a February 2000 
hearing of the Committee on Foreign Relations that ``force 
protection measures in place are adequate for the deployment of 
U.S. personnel to train Colombian forces who conduct 
counterdrug operations.'' U.S. personnel in Colombia echoed 
this view, though they underscored that they are continually 
working with the Colombian military to improve security.
6. Selection and operation of the Blackhawks
    One question before Congress is whether the tactical 
mobility requirement of the Colombian Army can be adequately 
met with a cheaper option than the Blackhawks, namely Hueys. 
The option was rejected by the Administration for three 
reasons: the Blackhawk has a greater range, speed, and can 
carry more troops than the Huey. The following table 
demonstrates the differences:

 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                          UH-60
                                       (Blackhawk)       UH-1N  (Huey)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Maximum range (nautical miles)....               306                230
Cruising speed (knots)............               150                110
Troop-carrying capacity...........          11 to 20            8 to 12
------------------------------------------------------------------------

To be sure, the costs of the Blackhawks are substantial: the 
initial investment under the supplemental is $385 million to 
fund the procurement, operations and maintenance, and pilot 
training. There will be associated costs for infrastructure at 
Colombian bases: at least $13 million in Fiscal Years 2000 and 
2001. But the payoff is a far more capable helicopter to 
provide the critical requirement of the Colombian Army. The 
advantage of buying a new helicopter--as opposed to a upgraded, 
but decades-old helicopter--should be self-evident.
    Questions have been raised whether the Colombian military 
can adequately manage sophisticated helicopters such as the 
Blackhawk. The Colombian Army and Air Force, collectively, 
already possess 20 Blackhawk helicopters. The Air Force 
helicopters are operational 80 percent of time, the Army 
helicopters 50 percent. The latter is skewed by the inclusion 
in the calculations of one Blackhawk with 73 bullet holes that 
has been inoperational for 18 months. If this single helicopter 
is not included in the data, the operational rate is 70 
percent. These data compare favorably to the current CNP 
aircraft inventory, which is operational at a 65 percent rate. 
Perhaps more important, the operational rate of the Colombian 
military is comparable to the U.S. military, in which the 
operational rates of the Blackhawk average around 80 percent. 
So this data suggest that the Colombian Armed Forces have 
adequately learned how to operate and maintain the Blackhawks 
in their inventory, though additional pilots, maintenance 
crews, and infrastrucure will be needed for the new 
helicopters.
7. Alternative development and assistance for the internally displaced
    Two important components of Plan Colombia are providing 
alternative development opportunities to peasants now growing 
coca and poppy, and assisting those that are internally 
displaced by the Plan and Colombia's conflicts.
    The U.S. portion of plan provides for $115 million for 
alternative development efforts in Colombia. This is clearly 
insufficient given the substantial need to persuade thousands 
of small farmers to switch from illegal activities. Colombia 
needs more; it is planning to contribute several hundred 
million dollars of its own funds, and is seeking funds for the 
effort from Europe--which has been asked to provide up to $1 
billion for alternative development--as well as Japan.
    The key issue is one of timing: coordinating alternative 
development programs with enforcement measures, so the peasants 
have real economic alternatives at the moment their livelihood 
(albeit illicit) is being reduced. This has historically been a 
difficult challenge in the Andean region, because development 
programs often take longer to develop than enforcement 
programs. An added difficulty is that the Colombian Government 
agency responsible for alternative development, known as 
``PLANTE'', is relatively new and is relatively small. 
Similarly, the Agency for International Development mission 
must build its capacity, as its program in Colombia in recent 
years has been negligible. The United Nations Drug Control 
Program (UNDCP), which has been operating in Colombia since 
1985, has extensive experience in the Andes, and should be 
utilized in this effort.
    The Colombian Government plans to begin alternative 
development programs in Putumayo Department on a pilot basis 
(there are already programs underway in opium growing areas). 
Initial programs will be conducted, in coordination with 
eradication operations, in an area along the main highway south 
of the provincial capital. Unlike many areas in the rest of the 
province, the soil there is suitable for agriculture. The 
programs there will be an important test of whether real 
alternatives can work in that region.
    It should be recognized that even the best alternative 
development programs cannot work unless the area is secure. Put 
another way, we cannot expect the Agency for International 
Development and PLANTE to work in areas effectively controlled 
by guerrillas or paramilitaries.
    Plan Colombia also provides for assistance to the 
internally displaced. The battle between Colombia's armed 
actors--the military, the guerillas, and the paramilitaries--
has had a tremendous impact on the Colombian people. 
Kidnapings, massacres, battles, and threats force tens of 
thousands of Colombian families to flee their homes each year 
and move elsewhere in the country. Squatter settlements of 
displaced people have sprung up around Bogota and other cities. 
These internally displaced persons need food, clothing, shelter 
(temporary and permanent), health care, counseling, job 
training and employment. (In international law, these are not 
``refugees''; refugees must cross an international border. 
Those displaced by crises, but still within their own borders, 
are referred to as ``internally displaced persons,'' or 
``IDPs'').
    Estimates of the number of IDPs vary considerably: ranging 
from several hundred thousand to 2 million. The State 
Department estimates that at least 800,000 people, primarily 
women and children, have been displaced since 1996--a level 
similar to those displaced in Kosovo in 1999. The ``Red de 
Solidaridad Social'' (RSS), Colombia's government agency which 
coordinates relief services, numbers the displaced at 400,000. 
The reason for the disparity turns on definitional disputes 
regarding precisely who is displaced. I am not in a position to 
settle this dispute, but it is clear that the government has a 
serious problem on its hands.
    The problem is widespread in the country. According to the 
Colombian Government, the internal displacement problem 
involves 139 of the country's 180 municipalities. Forty-four 
percent of IDP families are headed by a female, 23 percent of 
IDPs are less than seven years old, and nearly 17 percent are 
ethnic minorities. Most are poor families from rural areas with 
an agricultural background.
    The cause of displacement varies. The Council for Human 
Rights and the Displaced, a respected non-governmental 
organization in Colombia, estimates that 45 percent of IDPs are 
displaced by the paramilitaries; 30-32 percent by the 
guerrillas; and 8 percent by the armed forces.
    The push into southern Colombia is expected to displace 
30,000 to 40,000 of the estimated 300,000 residents of the 
Putumayo Department. Many of those expected to be displaced are 
migrant farmers who have moved to the region to grow or pick 
coca. Because the displacements in Putumayo will be the result 
of U.S.-assisted enforcement measures under Plan Colombia, the 
United States will have a special responsibility to assist 
those displaced from that region. The Clinton Administration 
proposal requests $12 million in 2000 and $19 million in 2001 
for resettlement assistance. Given the large number of people 
already displaced and the additional people who will be 
displaced as a result of the ``push into southern Colombia,'' 
this amount is probably insufficient, and additional resources 
should be considered during debate on the supplemental or in 
the regular FY 2001 budget.
8. Embassy staffing requirements for Plan Colombia
    The Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) in the U.S. Embassy is 
understaffed. In September 1999, with the approval of the 
Ambassador, the Section applied to Washington for 31 new 
positions to help manage the counter-narcotics program, which 
has grown significantly in the past few years--from about $20 
million in Fiscal 1996 to some $235 million in Fiscal 1999--
without a corresponding increase in staff to manage the 
program. Senior State Department officials have assured the 
Committee that these positions will be approved; to date, 18 of 
them have been. These staff are needed now. It bears emphasis 
that these additional 30 positions were requested before 
submittal of Plan Colombia. The Section estimates that it may 
need up to 20 additional positions in order to support the 
increase of U.S. assistance under Plan Colombia.
    The importance of the State Department providing adequate 
staffing to this mission cannot be overemphasized. If the U.S. 
Government is going to devote substantial resources to fighting 
narcotics in Colombia, it must provide adequate staff to help 
ensure that these resources are spent properly.

               C. Colombian Government and Plan Colombia

1. Securing assistance from other international sources
    Plan Colombia is predicated on international assistance. 
The United States has pledged, but not yet provided, over $1 
billion in new assistance. International financial institutions 
have committed nearly $1 billion. The Colombian Government is 
making serious efforts to raise additional funds from Europe 
and Japan. A donors conference, sponsored by Spain, will be 
convened in Madrid in July for this purpose.
    The Colombian government is working hard to solicit other 
international assistance. The week before my visit, President 
Pastrana traveled to the United Kingdom for meetings with Prime 
Minister Blair and Foreign Secretary Cook. In March, Colombian 
Foreign Minister Fernandez traveled to Tokyo to discuss a 
possible Japanese contribution.
    Should they be provided, contributions from other 
international donors are designed to complement the Colombian 
and U.S. portions of Plan Colombia. Europe is being asked to 
provide up to $1 billion for alternative development. The 
Japanese Government has expressed an interest in helping with 
reforestation and programs for the internally displaced.
    There are reasons to be skeptical that European states will 
provide assistance--Europe has been slow to provide assistance 
for Kosovo reconstruction--but one thing seems clear: neither 
Europe nor Japan is likely to provide assistance unless the 
United States does. In short, the failure of the United States 
to approve the supplemental has delayed commitments by other 
foreign donors.
2. Peace process
    Another key component of Plan Colombia, from the 
perspective of the Colombian Government, is a peace process 
underway with the two main guerrilla movements. President 
Pastrana was elected in 1998 with a strong mandate to end the 
civil conflicts, and a sizable civic movement called ``No Mas'' 
has marched in the streets of Colombian cities in the last two 
years demanding an end to violence.
    The talks with the FARC are further along than the 
negotiations with the ELN. Through negotiations with the FARC, 
last year the government agreed to a demilitarized zone in 
south-central Colombia, in Meta and Caqueta Departments (the 
zone, which is about the size of Switzerland, consists of about 
4 percent of the country's land mass; 100,000 of Colombia's 
roughly 40 million people live there). While the negotiations 
continue, the conflict goes on outside the zone. There has been 
no formal cessation of hostilities, and there are frequent 
military encounters between government forces and the FARC 
around the country.
    There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic that 
President Pastrana will make progress in these negotiations. 
Last winter, FARC leaders went on a three-week tour of European 
capitals. In part, the trip was designed to show FARC leaders, 
many of whom have been living in the jungle for decades, how 
the world has changed. It also exposed them to criticism from 
left-of-center politicians in Europe, who used the opportunity, 
I was told, to press the FARC leadership on its own violations 
of human rights and involvement in drug trafficking. Colombian 
officials believe the European tour will have a positive effect 
in the long run on the FARC position. While I was in the 
country, the FARC announced the formation of new political 
party--perhaps an indication that the guerrillas recognize the 
domestic political need to begin operating within the framework 
of normal politics.
    Just after my visit, the Colombian Government agreed to a 
demilitarized zone with the ELN, though the exact parameters of 
the zone, and the terms and conditions, have not been 
finalized.

                          Human Rights Issues

1. Background and Colombian Government actions
    The dire human rights situation in Colombia has been well 
documented in the annual State Department human rights report, 
in reports by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights 
office in Colombia, and reports by respected non-governmental 
organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights 
Watch. I do not attempt to repeat their findings or analysis 
here. It is enough to say that there is a crisis in the 
country: massive human rights violations are committed by the 
guerrillas, the paramilitaries, and to a lesser extent the 
Colombian Armed Forces.
    In recent years, there has been a measurable decline in the 
number of human rights violations directly attributable to the 
military. At the same time, violations by right-wing 
paramilitaries have increased, leading to the widespread belief 
in Colombia that the military collaborates with the 
paramilitaries--and lets them do their dirty work. In February, 
a Human Rights Watch report linked ``half of Colombia's 
eighteen brigade-level army units (excluding military schools) 
to paramilitary activities.'' Their report concludes that 
``military support for paramilitary activity remains national 
in scope and includes areas where units receiving or scheduled 
to receive U.S. military aid operate.''
    I discussed the human rights situation with the President, 
the Minister of Defense, and the U.S. Ambassador. I impressed 
upon them the importance of human rights issues in the 
Congress, and urged them to keep making efforts to improve the 
record of the Colombian Armed Forces. I emphasized to them the 
need to end impunity in the Armed Forces--that is, to prosecute 
all violators of human rights.
    The Colombian Government, at high levels, concedes that 
there is a human rights problem in the country, and has taken 
certain efforts to address it. These actions by the government 
are commendable, but it must do more. It must continue to make 
human rights a priority. It must continue to send a message 
throughout the armed forces that institutional tolerance of 
paramilitary activity must cease. The actions take to date by 
the Government include:

Firing of high-level officials: President Pastrana fired four 
Army generals in 1999 for collaboration with or failure to take 
action against paramilitaries. Despite those dismissals, many 
military officials who are under investigation for links to the 
paramilitaries--and some who have been found guilty by the 
civilian courts for violating human rights--continue to serve 
in the military, and some have even been promoted. A number of 
investigators working on cases linking the Army and the 
paramilitaries have been threatened and either forced to resign 
from their posts or to leave the country.
    According to Colombian officials, within the next six 
months, the head of the Armed Forces, General Tapias, will be 
given the authority to dismiss any officer tied to paramilitary 
groups without going through lengthy dismissal proceedings. 
This would give Tapias the same power that enabled General 
Serrano, the head of the Colombian National Police, to purge 
the police of human rights violators. This authority to clean 
house is often credited with professionalizing the police force 
and it is hoped that it will do the same for the military.

New military penal code: The Colombian Government passed a new 
military penal code in August 1999, but it has yet to be 
implemented. This new code includes protections for soldiers 
who refuse to follow orders which would involve violations of 
human rights. It also creates an independent body, similar to 
the judge advocate general corps in the U.S. military, so that 
unit commanders will no longer be judging their own troops. The 
new code gives civilian courts jurisdiction over all ``crimes 
against humanity'' including genocide, forced disappearance and 
torture. Notably absent from this list of offenses, however, is 
murder.

Law on forced disappearances: The new military code requires 
that forced disappearances be tried in civilian courts, but the 
law to implement it has been stalled. Though President Pastrana 
initially supported this policy change, in December 1999 he 
vetoed the necessary legislation due to his objections over 
certain provisions in the bill. As a result, forced 
disappearance continues to go unpunished in Colombia: very few 
of the more than 3,000 cases reported to authorities since 1977 
have been resolved. The government has promised that the bill 
will move quickly during the current session of Congress.

Recent decree on human rights: In March, President Pastrana 
signed a decree to create an inter-agency mechanism designed to 
provide ``early warning'' of potential massacres--so the 
government forces can act to prevent them. This mechanism will 
be coordinated by the Ministers of Defense and Interior, with 
the cooperation of Colombian law enforcement agencies and the 
Prosecutor General. The Minister of Defense will be charged 
with dispatching the military to secure areas where massacres 
are believed to be imminent. It is too soon to say whether this 
mechanism will be effective.
2. Discussions with human rights and UN representatives
    While in Bogota, I met jointly with three representatives 
of non-governmental organizations working on human rights 
issues, and representatives of two U.N. bodies--the High 
Commissioner for Refugees and the High Commissioner for Human 
Rights.
    All five individuals expressed concern about various 
aspects of Plan Colombia. They emphasized different points: 
that the Colombian Government had not demonstrated enough of a 
commitment to the internally displaced, that increased military 
assistance could lead to increased displacements, that there 
was a great need to reform the military and improve its human 
rights record, that the plan could undermine the peace process, 
and that the plan did not place enough emphasis on alternative 
development.
    I assured the group that the United States was firmly 
committed to human rights, and would continue to press the 
Colombian Government on these issues. I also pointed out, 
however, that the human rights situation in the country was 
unlikely to improve unless the United States was fully engaged 
with Colombia. In other words, U.S. engagement and assistance 
to Colombia would inevitably (because of U.S. emphasis on human 
rights) have a positive effect on human rights in Colombia, and 
the converse--U.S. disengagement--would not be helpful to the 
cause of human rights. One individual present responded by 
saying ``I essentially agree with what you have said.''
3. Need for additional political officers in the Embassy
    Currently, just one officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota 
is designated to monitor human rights on a full time basis. 
While others in the political section also have responsibility 
for monitoring human rights, I believe more officers may be 
needed to focus exclusively on this matter.
    Under the ``Leahy Amendment'' to the Foreign Operations and 
Defense Appropriations Act, all members of Colombian military 
units receiving U.S. training must be vetted to assure that 
they have not been involved in gross human rights violations. 
Embassy staff must review available records on each and every 
individual to receive U.S. training. This is a painstaking and 
time-consuming task. Moreover, the scope of the human rights 
violations in Colombia requires constant monitoring and 
reporting.

                          Schedule of Meetings

Wednesday, April 19
Arrive Bogota; travel to U.S. Embassy

Meeting with Jaime Ruiz, Chief of Staff to the President

Meeting with representatives of U.N. offices and non-
            governmental organizations: Michael Hurtado, UNHCR; 
            Javier Hernandez, UNHCHR; Marco Romero, CODHES; 
            Rev. Fernando Gonzales, CINEP; Andres Sanchez, 
            Colombian Commission of Jurists

Travel to Cartagena aboard presidential aircraft; discussions 
            with President Pastrana and U.S. Ambassador aboard 
            plane

Dinner with President Pastrana, Minister of Defense Ramirez, 
            U.S. Ambassador, and senior U.S. Embassy staff
Thursday, April 20
Breakfast briefing by U.S. Ambassador, Head of Narcotics 
            Affairs Section, and Commander of U.S. Military 
            Group, U.S. Embassy

Meeting with Minister of Defense Ramirez; briefing by Rear 
            Admiral Cubillos, Commander, Cartagena Naval Base

Meeting with President Pastrana and U.S. Ambassador

Dinner with President Pastrana











                            A P P E N D I X

                              ----------                              


            Statements by the President of the United States

                            THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary,
(Grand Canyon, Arizona),
For Immediate Release January 11, 2000.

                       STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

    Today I am announcing an urgently needed, two-year funding 
package to assist Colombia in vital counter-drug efforts aimed 
at keeping illegal drugs off our shores. It will also help 
Colombia promote peace and prosperity and deepen its democracy. 
Building on our current efforts, over this year and next our 
resulting support would total over $1.6 billion.
    President Pastrana's inauguration in August 1998 brought to 
Colombia a new spirit of hope--for deeper democracy, for 
broader prosperity, for an end to that country's long civil 
conflict. But, increased drug production and trafficking, 
coupled with a serious economic recession and sustained 
violence, have put that progress in peril.
    President Pastrana has responded with a bold agenda--Plan 
Colombia. It provides a solid, multifaceted strategy that the 
United States should support with substantial assistance. We 
have a compelling national interest in reducing the flow of 
cocaine and heroin to our shores, and in promoting peace, 
democracy and economic growth in Colombia and the region. Given 
the magnitude of the drug trafficking problem and their current 
economic difficulties, neither the Government of Colombia nor 
its neighbors can carry the full burden alone.
    In Fiscal Year 2000, much of our support will be focused on 
a one-time infusion of funds to help boost Colombia's 
interdiction and eradication capabilities, particularly in the 
south.
    The package will also include assistance for economic 
development, protection of human rights, and judicial reform.
    Our bilateral aid to Colombia will be supplemented by 
multilateral agencies. The World Bank and Inter-American 
Development Bank are considering hundreds of millions of 
dollars in loans for Colombia next year. The IMF has already 
pledged a $2.7 billion Extended Fund facility to help jumpstart 
the economy. And we will also continue to encourage our allies 
to assist Colombia.
    The obstacles to a better future for Colombia are 
substantial. We expect it will require years before the full 
benefits of Plan Colombia are felt. But I believe that with our 
support and that of other donors, Plan Colombia can soon 
accelerate Colombia's nascent economic recovery. Over the 
longer haul, we can expect to see. more effective drug 
eradication and increased interdiction of illicit drug 
shipments.
    Strengthening stability and democracy in Colombia, and 
fighting the drug trade there, is in our fundamental national 
interest. So, with President Pastrana and with our Congress, we 
must and we will intensify this vital work.

                              ----------                              


                            THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary,
(Grand Canyon, Arizona),
For Immediate Release January 11, 2000.

                               FACT SHEET

                      Colombia Assistance Package

    Colombia and its democratically elected government are 
facing an urgent crisis that has narcotics, military and 
economic dimensions. Narco traffickers in Colombia now supply 
about 80 percent of the cocaine used in the United States.
    Colombian President Andres Pastrana, who took office in 
August 1998, has developed a comprehensive, integrated approach 
to addressing Colombia's problems. Plan Colombia would 
strengthen the Colombian economy and democracy, and fight 
narcotics trafficking. The Colombian government estimates that 
Plan Colombia will cost $7.5 billion and is dedicating $4 
billion of its own resources. It has also asked for the 
participation and help of the United States and other nations.
    The United States has a vital interest in the success of 
this plan. For this reason, the President is proposing an 
expanded comprehensive program; as a result, US support over 
this year and next will total more than $1.6 billion.
    The five major components of U.S. assistance are:

   Helping the Colombian Government push into the coca-
        growing regions of southern Colombia, which are now 
        dominated by insurgent guerillas. Funds will help train 
        special counter-narcotics battalions, purchase 30 
        Blackhawk and 33 Huey helicopters, and provide other 
        support.

   Upgrading Colombian capability to aggressively 
        interdict cocaine and cocaine traffickers. Funds will 
        be used for radar, aircraft and airfield upgrades, and 
        improved anti-narcotics intelligence gathering.

   Increasing coca crop eradication. The Administration 
        will propose $96 million to purchase equipment that 
        will enable the Colombian National Police to eradicate 
        more coca and poppy fields.

   Promoting alternative crops and jobs. The 
        Administration will propose $145 million over the next 
        two years to provide economic alternatives for 
        Colombian farmers who now grow coca and poppy plants.

   Increasing protection of human rights, expanding the 
        rule of law, and promoting the peace process. The 
        Administration will propose $93 million for new 
        programs that will help the judicial system, and crack 
        down on money laundering.

   This initiative will be submitted as part of the 
        President's Budget. It will add to our current support 
        of more than $150 million each year a $954 million 
        emergency supplemental request for FY 2000, as well as 
        an increase of in FY 2001 of $318 million.

    The Administration looks forward to working with Congress 
to help Colombia confront it current problems, while reducing 
the supply of drugs coming to the United States--to help both 
their national interest and our own.


















    Excerpt from: International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, 
                    Department of State, March 2000

                                Colombia

                               I. Summary

    Colombia produces and distributes more cocaine than any 
other country in the world and is also an important supplier of 
heroin. Colombia bolstered its counternarcotics efforts in 1999 
by extraditing a Colombian citizen to the United States on 
narcotics charges for the first time in nine years. The 
Colombian armed forces activated its elite, U.S.-trained, 931-
man strong counternarcotics battalion. Additionally, the 
Colombian anti-narcotics police (DIRAN) formed an air-mobile 
interdiction unit, which received United States training, to 
conduct operations with the Colombian military.
    After over a year in office, the Pastrana Administration 
remains committed to its peace dialogue with the largest 
insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia 
(FARC). The government's talks with the FARC, which earns 
substantial funds from the drug trade, particularly from 
protection and taxation, have shown few gains thus far. Like 
the guerrillas, the paramilitaries are involved in the drug 
trade and are competing for an ever-greater share.
    The combined U.S./GOC aerial eradication program had a 
successful year in 1999. The program sprayed over 42,000 
hectares of coca and more than 8,000 hectares of opium poppy in 
1999.
    The ``Antinarcotics Directorate'' (DIRAN) of the Colombian 
National Police has continued its record of investigations and 
operations against narcotics trafficking. A cooperative effort 
between the Colombian National Police, the Prosecutor General's 
office (Fiscalia) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration 
(DEA) led to the arrest of 30 significant Colombian drug 
traffickers in ``Operation Millennium.'' The United States 
requested the extradition of all 30 suspects and awaits the 
GOC's decision on those requests.
    As in 1998, guerrillas protecting the drug trade ratcheted 
up their attacks on Colombian security forces, and hampered 
counternarcotics operations, particularly in the coca growing 
regions of southern and southeastern Colombia. As Colombia 
struggles to climb out of its worst economic crisis since the 
1930s, the GOC is hard pressed to commit the resources 
necessary to combat the powerful combined threat of drug 
traffickers and guerrilla elements involved in the drug trade.
    Colombia is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

                         II. Status of Country

    Colombia remains the world's largest cocaine producer: up 
to three-quarters of the world's cocaine hydrochloride (HCl) is 
processed in Colombia from cocaine base imported from Peru and 
Bolivia and, increasingly, from locally grown coca. Coca 
cultivation in Colombia increased by 20 percent in 1999. Most 
of the increase occurred outside of the eradication areas. 
Although opinions differ over statistical baselines, it is 
generally agreed that despite efforts by the Government of 
Colombia to limit increases, cultivation expanded dramatically 
over the past three years. Estimated coca cultivation increased 
36 percent in 1996, 18 percent in 1997 and 28 percent in 1998. 
Colombia is also a significant supplier of heroin to the United 
States, producing, according to U.S. estimates, six metric tons 
(mt) yearly, virtually all of which is destined for the U.S. 
market.

               III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1999

    Policy Initiatives. In November 1999, Colombia extradited a 
Colombian citizen to the United States for the first time in 
nine years, fulfilling one of the USG's most sought-after, but 
elusive, counternarcotics goals with the GOC. Despite narcotics 
traffickers' attempts to throw up legal roadblocks, and 
bombings possibly linked to the extraditions, the Colombian 
Supreme Court and Pastrana Administration demonstrated their 
willingness to send narcotics traffickers to justice in the 
United States regardless of citizenship.
    In a cooperative anti-narcotics operation with the USG, the 
GOC arrested 30 suspected narcotics traffickers in October 1999 
as a result of ``Operation Millennium.'' This joint operation, 
involved the Colombian National Police, the Colombian 
prosecutor general's office and the DEA. The United States 
requested the extradition of all 30 suspects.
    The GOC succeeded in preserving some, but not all, key 
elements of its ``faceless'' justice system when congress 
approved the new ``specialized'' justice system in June 1999. 
The specialized system no longer protects the identity of 
judges, leading some judges to feel exposed to attempts at 
intimidation. However, the system still protects the identity 
of witnesses and prosecutors in a limited set of crimes such as 
narcotics trafficking, kidnapping and terrorism.
    The asset forfeiture process in Colombia remains stalled. 
Although the GOC has seized millions of dollars worth of 
narcotics trafficker assets, including land, homes, automobiles 
and airplanes, the government has been unable to conclude the 
process and take legal ownership of or auction-off the assets.
    The Colombian Air Force (FAC) is improving its monitoring 
and interdiction abilities. Over the last three years the 
percentage of successful FAC interdiction attempts has 
increased from 25 percent in 1997 to nearly 40 percent in 1999. 
At the same time, the number of suspicious aircraft which radar 
has detected flying to or from Colombia has fallen 
dramatically, from 231 in 1997 to less than 100 in 1999.
    The Colombian National Police successfully implemented a 
civil aviation registration program to curb the use of aircraft 
for drug trafficking. This program inspected 343 aircraft in 
1999, seizing 50 of these for violation of ptotective seals 
that prevent tampering with cargoes.
    In mid-1999, for the first time, the GOC permitted its 
eradication campaign to begin edging into coca-rich Putumayo 
department. The GOC had previously prohibited eradication in 
Putumayo; the mere threat of spraying there in 1996 ignited 
vehement public demonstrations against the government by 
residents of the coca growing areas. The eradication program 
has been careful to enter Putumayo slowly and without fanfare 
to avoid causing a backlash by farmers dependent on the coca 
trade. By November 1999, planes were eradicating fields 20 
miles into the department, allowing them to reach approximately 
30,000 hectares of coca. This has permitted the eradication 
program to enter the fastest growing coca cultivation area in 
the country.
    The eradication program was hindered in 1999 by the 
diversion of escort helicopters for interdiction missions, 
civic unrest in poppy-growing areas that forced the evacuation 
of spray teams, and frequent ground-fire attacks on spray 
planes (resulting, in part, from too few escort aircraft). In 
1999 spray planes suffered 67 hits from ground fire. 
Nonetheless, the program still managed to eradicate more than 
50,000 hectares in 1999.
    The February 1997 shipboarding agreement between the GOC 
and USG streamlined the process for approving the boarding of 
Colombian ships in international waters by U.S. officials and 
has enhanced cooperation with the Colombian Navy. Following 
talks between JIATF-East (USG inter-agency counternarcotics 
task force) and the Colombian Navy, a standing interdiction 
operations plan was signed in September 1999. This plan 
augments the maritime agreement and has led to three U.S.-
Colombian combined maritime interdiction patrols since May 
1999. The Colombian Navy's counternarcotics efforts however, 
are limited by a lack of adequate resources for patrolling, 
including fuel.
    The USG and GOC have worked to resolve differences 
regarding evidence preparation and delivery in cases where the 
USG is the interdicting authority. In September 1999, U.S. and 
Colombian authorities reached an accommodation concerning the 
evidence required by Colombian prosecutors and other 
evidentiary questions.
    Prison security remains a serious problem in Colombia. 
Overcrowding, lack of administrative acumen and corruption 
among guards plague the system. Almost two percent of inmates 
escape each year. There are 50,000 prisoners in a system with 
capacity for 30,000 and only 1 guard for every 10 prisoners 
(compared with 1 guard for 4 in the U.S.). Violence among 
prisoners is rampant. Due to lax security and permissive 
conditions for prisoners, many convicted traffickers remain 
directly involved in their operations from within prison.
    The Minister of Justice and his director of prisons appear 
committed to reforms. But thus far, the GOC has been more 
inclined to build additional prisons rather than to reform 
prison administration.
    The ``carrot and stick'' approach that couples alternative 
development with aerial eradication is key to Colombia's 
national drug control strategy and to ``Plan Colombia,'' 
unveiled by the GOC in September 1999. The National Alternative 
Development Plan (PLANTE) is the agency charged with 
implementing the GOC's alternative development strategy. 
Targeting approximately 35,000 small farmers nationwide, who 
each produce less than three hectares of coca or opium poppy, 
PLANTE focused on linking illicit crop abandonment or 
substitution to markets for the resulting new products or 
services. PLANTE organized strategic alliances with the private 
sector, which provide farmer organizations with risk capital 
and technical assistance in production, product processing and 
marketing.
    As a matter of policy, the GOC does not encourage or 
facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or 
psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the 
laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. The 
Pastrana government has made clear, on many occasions, its 
opposition to official corruption.
    Accomplishments. Law enforcement operations by the 
counternarcotics police and others continue to be the most 
successful element of the GOC counternarcotics program. 
According to the CNP, GOC counternarcotics operations in 1999 
included the seizure of almost 30 metric tons (mt) of cocaine 
HCl and cocaine base; nearly 140 mt of coca leaves; 61 mt of 
marijuana; and 644 kilos of heroin, morphine and opium, the 
destruction of 96 cocaine base labs; 53 cocaine HCl labs and 10 
heroin labs; the capture of over 760 mt of solid precursor 
chemicals and over 890,000 gallons of liquid precursors; the 
seizure of 540 vehicles, 189 boats, 51 aircraft and 422 
weapons; the destruction of 44 clandestine airstrips, and the 
arrest of over 2,200 persons.
    Elite investigative units within the CNP are developing 
long term investigations of trafficker organizations and are 
moving forward on asset forfeiture. The GOC heroin task force 
provided intelligence to effect drug seizures in Colombia and 
assist in U.S.-based investigations. Overall, GOC seizures of 
cocaine and heroin were higher in 1999 than in 1998.
    The level of cooperation between the Colombian military and 
police, and between the services within the military, continued 
to improve in 1999. As in 1998, all of the armed forces 
conducted unilateral and joint counternarcotics operations with 
the police. Cooperation took the form of deployments in areas 
where police face a significant guerrilla threat. The air 
force, army, navy and marines coordinated with the CNP in 
multi-week, joint counternarcotics operations along the Pacific 
coast near the port of Buenaventura. These coordinated forces 
destroyed drug labs, confiscated narcotics and arrested 
individuals involved.
    Furthermore, the Colombian police and army have 
participated in intensive joint training to prepare the army's 
new counternarcotics battalion, which is intended to assist the 
CNP during counternarcotics operations in the coca growing 
regions. The police and army have also agreed to work together 
on tactical operations that involve the new battalion. The co-
located Joint Intelligence Center (JIC) includes personnel from 
the CNP.
    CNP cooperation, including intelligence sharing with 
international law enforcement entities continued this year. The 
CNP also provided information that led directly to the seizure 
of 30 mt of cocaine HCl outside of Colombian territory in 1999.
    Agreements and Treaties. Colombia ratified the 1988 UN Drug 
Convention in September 1994 and the GOC's National Anti-
Narcotics Plan of 1998 meets the strategic plan requirements of 
the Convention. Recent reforms have generally brought the 
government into line with the requirements of the Convention.
    In February 1997, the GOC signed a maritime shipboarding 
agreement with the United States. The agreement, which allows 
for faster approval for shipboardings in international waters 
and sets guidelines for improved counternarcotics cooperation 
with the Colombian navy, has been credited with the seizure of 
22 metric tons of cocaine since its signing. In February 1999, 
the Colombian justice system obtained the first convictions of 
individuals prosecuted for seizures related to the maritime 
agreement. However reduced budgets and demands on resources for 
riverine programs south of the Andes limited the navy's 
counternarcotics operations.
    1999 saw substantial improvement in the maritime 
agreement's intelligence and communications exchange process. 
JIATF-East has established direct communication links with 
Colombian navy operations centers in Bogota and Cartagena to 
speed the transfer of tactical interdiction information. The 
navy has also, improved its own ship-to-shore communications. 
Unfortunately, implementation procedures for article 16 of the 
agreement have not been developed. Article 16 permits the 
prosecution of high-seas seizures by U.S. authorities without 
referral to Colombia's legal system and extradition process.
    In September, U.S. and Colombian customs officials signed a 
Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA). The CMAA will 
enhance the countries' ability to share information and 
investigate cases jointly.
    Cultivation and Production. Coca and opium poppy remain the 
principal illicit crops grown in Colombia. In 1998, these crops 
were estimated to be 101,800 hectares and 6,100 hectares 
respectively. In 1999 there were estimated to be 122,500 
hectares of coca and 7,500 hectares of poppy.
    Coca, the predominant illicit crop, is primarily grown in 
two regions on the eastern plains in Guaviare and neighboring 
departments, and along the Ecuadorian and Peruvian borders in 
the departments of Putumayo and Caqueta. Additionally, 
increasing amounts of coca are appearing in the northern 
departments of Bolivar and Norte de Santander. Most opium is 
grown on the eastern slopes of the Central Cordillera Mountains 
in Tolima, Huila and Cauca departments. Limited amounts are 
also found in Norte de Santander, southern Bolivar and 
Antioquia departments.
    Larger and ever more complex cocaine HCl laboratories are 
replacing the less sophisticated labs previously encountered. 
HCl laboratories can be found in all regions of the country, 
but are primarily located in the plains and jungle regions, 
near the coca-growing zones under de facto guerrilla control. 
Numerous laboratories have been identified in extremely remote 
areas that are difficult to reach even by helicopter.
    Most opiate laboratories are small, producing small 
quantities of drugs and using simple equipment and limited 
quantities of precursor chemicals. Colombia accounts for an 
estimated two percent of the world's opium poppy. Nearly all of 
the resulting heroin, however, is destined for the United 
States.
    Marijuana cultivation remained active in 1999, but is not 
believed to have increased significantly. Colombian marijuana 
seizures in the United States are believed to be minimal.
    Drug Flow/Transit. Colombia is the center of the 
international cocaine trade, with drugs flowing out of the 
country at a stable and constant rate. In addition to producing 
large quantities of cocaine base domestically, Colombian 
traffickers import cocaine base, by air and by river, from Peru 
and, to a lesser extent, from Bolivia. The base is converted 
into cocaine HCl at clandestine laboratories in the Colombian 
source zone. Cocaine HCl shipments move out of Colombia 
primarily by commercial maritime vessels (multi-ton loads) and 
general aviation aircraft (400-800 kgs shipments) to Mexico, 
Central America and the Caribbean, typically en route to the 
United States. Cocaine is also concealed in legitimate air and 
sea cargo destined for European ports.
    Recent statistics indicate that approximatels 85 percent of 
the heroin seized by federal authorities in the northeastern 
United States is of Colombian origin. DEA believes that almost 
all of the heroin produced in Colombia goes to the United 
States and is generally smuggled by human couriers on 
commercial airline flights in quantities of one to five 
kilograms.
    Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). The National 
Directorate for Narcotics Control administers cost sharing drug 
abuse prevention and education projects with the UNDCP. The 
annual UNDCP budget for Colombia programs is USD five to seven 
million.
    The DNE coordinates GOC demand reduction programs through 
governmental and non-governmental organizations. Demand 
reduction efforts in Colombia faced an uphill battle in 1999 as 
domestic drug consumption continued to rise. Increasing drug 
abuse by Colombians has spurred greater efforts by the DNE to 
publicize the dangers of drug abuse and convince the public 
that local consumption is a problem for Colombia now, not in 
the future. The U.S. Embassy hopes that one result of this 
active media campaign will be that counternarcotics programs in 
general will be more palatable to the Colombian public.
    The priority target group for programs to prevent the use 
of psychoactive substances is male students, ages 12-17, with 
high school level education. New users are located in the 
geographic areas with the highest population densities and 
greater economic development, such as the coffee producing 
region and cities such as Bogota, Medellin and Cali.

                IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

    Policy Initiatives. The USG continues to place its focus on 
institution building, especially within the law enforcement and 
judicial systems. The counternarcotics legislation passed in 
1997 is an indirect result of advice and studies funded by the 
USG.
    Bilateral Cooperation. Judicial reform in Colombia moves 
forward, albeit at an extremely slow pace. USAID coordinates 
the USG's justice sector reform program in cooperation with the 
Department of Justice (OPDAT and ICITAP). This long-term effort 
is aimed at strengthening the administration of justice in 
Colombia through support and training for judges, prosecutors, 
and investigators. Since 1991, several thousand law enforcement 
officials have received training in basic investigative 
techniques and planning. Recently, OPDAT and ICITAP have 
focused on the development of task force units (teams of 
prosecutors and police) that are charged with investigating 
money laundering, corruption, narcotics and human rights 
violations. Human rights training is an important element of 
the program and has been provided in the United States to some 
program participants. USAID and OPDAT continue to support the 
judicial branch in a challenging effort to establish oral 
trials in a country that has traditionally relied on written 
evidence and the inquisitorial system to resolve cases.
    To reduce the amount of cocaine HCl reaching the U.S., many 
USG programs focus on the Colombian source zone to stop air 
transportation and drug production in this targeted area. This 
focus aims at improving not only bilateral and joint CNP-
military operations, but multilateral cooperation, as well.
    USG entities, including DEA, FBI, USAID, and training 
elements of the Department of Justice (OPDAT and ICITAP), work 
with GOC law enforcement and judicial entities to increase the 
effectiveness of the Colombian judicial system, developing and 
refining law enforcement capabilities, training host nation 
counterparts, and improving access, fairness and public 
perceptions of the justice system. Thousands of judges, 
prosecutors and investigators have been trained since 1991.
    The U.S. Embassy in Bogota provided the impetus to 
establish a port cargo security program that is now in place at 
all five of Colombia's seaports. The private ports agreed to 
provide $1.5 million per year for the foreseeable future to 
fund 100 specially trained narcotics police who carry out 
inspection and interdiction operations at the ports. This 
private funding complements nominal USG sponsorship. The USG 
monitors performance and provides U.S. Customs Service 
trainers. As a result of this program, the ports have seized 
more than 16 mt of cocaine and 40 mt of marijuana, all at very 
little cost to the USG. Additionally, Colombia is one of seven 
countries participating in the U.S. Customs' Americas Counter 
Smuggling Initiative (ACSI), a program designed to deter 
narcotics smuggling in commercial shipments by enhancing 
private sector security programs at manufacturing and export 
facilities while also seeking to assist law enforcement 
agencies to improve their counternarcotics effectiveness and 
develop private sector partnerships.
    In 1999, the total operating budget for the Narcotics 
Affairs Section (NAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota was $38 
million, with the largest sums going to support CNP air 
operations ($15.3 million) and the crop eradication program 
($7.7 million). The CNP air wing consists of 47 helicopters and 
20 fixed wing aircraft. The USG-funded private contractor that 
manages the CNP's eradication program operates an additional 12 
helicopters, 9 spray planes, two intelligence-gathering planes 
and several transport planes. In addition to this assistance, 
the USG provided $96 million for the acquisition of six 
BlackHawk helicopters to enhance the CNP's counternarcotics 
capacity. The first three were delivered in November 1999 with 
the remaining three scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 
2000. The crews and technicians for these new helicopters were 
trained in the United States. The USG is also upgrading the 
CNP's Huey helicopter fleet. The first ten of 25 upgrades were 
performed in 1999 at a cost of $1.4 million each.
    The CNP agreed to an audit of the CNP air services program, 
which receives substantial U.S. assistance. Unfortunately, in 
December 1999, the accounting firm contracted to perform the 
audit backed out, citing security concerns. Nonetheless, the 
CNP's agreement to have the audit performed is a positive step 
and the USG is working to contract another accounting firm for 
the project.
    The GOC also worked with the U.S. Embassy's consular 
section to deny U.S. visas to persons involved or suspected of 
trafficking in drugs or related activities such as money 
laundering.
    In 1999, ICITAP assisted the GOC in developing a unified 
training curriculum for Colombian investigators. In August 1999 
the National Judicial Police Council formally adopted the 
curriculum and made it mandatory for all Colombian 
investigators after January 2000. For the first time, all 
Colombian law enforcement investigators will receive the same 
training.
    The Colombian army's new counternarcotics battalion became 
operational late in 1999. The United States provided training 
and equipment to the 931-man battalion and will assist the GOC 
with the costs of maintaining the elite unit. In 1999, total 
USG assistance relating to the battalion was approximately $7.5 
million. The battalion is expected to commence field operations 
in early 2000.
    The USG also provided 18 UH-1N helicopters to the Colombian 
army to support the new counternarcotics battalion. Helicopter 
operations should begin in early 2000 with full operational 
capability shortly thereafter.
    Using $6 million in supplemental USG funding, the DIRAN, 
with U.S. Embassy assistance, embarked on an ambitious program 
to upgrade security at 16 base sites throughout Colombia. 
Following recommendations by USG security experts, the DIRAN 
enhanced security at all 16 bases. As the program continues, 
the DIRAN will install electronic sensor systems at a number of 
bases.
    In 1999, NAS/INL provided substantial training for CNP 
personnel, including 12 pilots, 37 technicians, 57 ground 
troops and 95 agents of the CNP's new air-mobile unit.
    The Road Ahead. The GOC's ``Plan Colombia'' recognizes the 
interrelated nature of Colombia's counternarcotics efforts and 
its peace process. In 2000, the foremost obstacle to curbing 
narcotics trafficking in Colombia will still be guerrillas who 
depend heavily on the drug trade for their substantial annual 
income. These well-armed rebels violently oppose police 
eradication operations and CNP/military interdiction efforts. 
Some paramilitaries are also involved in the drug trade and 
likewise pose a threat to law enforcement efforts.
    In the year 2000, PLANTE will fund many of these ongoing 
projects from the $15 million alternative development agreement 
signed with the USG in August 1999. Although the number of 
small farmers who have abandoned their illegal trade thus far 
is small, it is hoped that, as PLANTE's market-oriented 
projects take root and spray planes take to the air, an 
increasing number of farmers will see the benefit of getting 
out of coca or poppy cultivation.
    USG programs will continue working with the GOC to solidify 
reforms in the DIRAN and support Colombia's efforts to sustain 
and improve the capability and efficiency of the judicial 
system, which remains one of the weakest links in the 
counternarcotics chain. The USG fully expects that the 
cooperation between U.S. and Colombian law enforcement agencies 
that produced Operation Millennium will continue to show 
results in 2000. The U.S. Embassy is confident that after 
extraditing a Colombian citizen to the United States for the 
first time in 9 years, the GOC will respond favorably on the 
merits to U.S. extradition requests for Colombian nationals and 
others involved in narcotics trafficking. The Colombian 
military's counternarcotics role may broaden in 2000, as its 
first counternarcotics battalion comes on line and as the GOC 
implements plans for additional specialized battalions.
    Resources will be devoted to firming up the Colombian armed 
forces' and police's ability to institutionalize and carry 
forward the training they have received from the United States. 
Priorities will include enhancing the armed forces' capacity to 
conduct field medic training, as well as ground and small units 
training in counternarcotics operations. As Colombia's first 
counternarcotics battalion commences operations, plans continue 
to train and equip additional battalions to strengthen the 
army's counternarcotics capability and expertise.




    Remarks of Andres Pastrana Arango, President of the Republic of 
         Colombia, at the American Society of Newspaper Editors

                     WASHINGTON, DC, APRIL 12, 2000

    My former colleagues in the media--ladies and gentlemen:
    I am honored to be here today to address the American 
Society of Newspaper Editors at your annual convention. Let me 
thank your president, Christian Anderson, for this generous 
invitation, and all of you for making me feel at home, and for 
easing the anxiety every politician feels standing before a 
large room full of journalists.
    Let me also express my admiration for this society's long 
commitment to upholding the First Amendment, promoting and 
protecting the free flow of information, and nurturing the 
great responsibility that comes with an open and independent 
press. And in this time of unparalleled prosperity and 
leadership for the United States, when our globalizing world 
grows constantly more interconnected, those everywhere who 
believe in freedom are grateful for your work with the Freedom 
Forum, and for your continuing self-examination of how your 
newspapers can better cover the international arena, and bring 
responsible and relevant news to your readers. In the Cold War, 
the United States was deeply concerned with the way it was seen 
by other nations. In the post-Cold War era, other nations are 
concerned about how we are viewed, politically and 
economically, in the United States. We Colombians welcome and 
invite increased interaction with the entire spectrum of your 
media--to exchange ideas, challenge misperceptions, and widen 
understanding.
    The last President of Colombia to speak at your convention 
was Virgilio Barco in 1986. From this platform, President Barco 
made a strong plea for the United States and Latin America to 
do more together in the war on drugs. Here the first steps were 
taken that led to the landmark 1990 drug summit, attended by 
President Bush in Cartagena. The effort marked the beginning of 
the end of the Medellin drug cartel.
    Today, I return here with a similar, urgent call for both 
our nations and the entire international community once again 
to do more in the fight against a new wave of drug trafficking 
and drug violence. I also come here to speak candidly about a 
dangerous problem of misinformation about Colombia. As you know 
better than anyone, in the era of instant information, it can 
be difficult to distinguish impression from truth, and the 
headline of one news cycle from the cycle of history. Today I 
ask you, in a decisive time for my country, to reflect with me 
on the real Colombia . . . our strengths, our problems, our 
resolve, and our prospects.
    In recent months, Colombia has become what truly can be 
called ``a hot topic'' here in the United States. Mike Wallace, 
Dan Rather, Charlie Gibson and Tom Friedman have come to Bogota 
plainly expecting the worst, with a preconceived idea of what 
our country was all about--in a phrase, violence and cocaine. 
Yet they each left with a powerful sense of the character and 
values of the Colombian people, our commitment to peace and 
democracy, and our unbending determination to reforming and 
modernizing our society for the twenty first century.
    What may sometimes be lost in the glare of the media moment 
is the historic truth that Colombia is South America's oldest, 
most resilient democracy, and that we Colombians share your 
long tradition of a free press and open access to information. 
Our newspapers are a powerful, independent influence--something 
we politicians learn again everyday. El Tiempo, the largest 
national daily and one of Latin America's most highly respected 
newspapers, has been at the center of Colombian life for almost 
a century, along with its main competitor, El Espectador. Our 
other major cities--and Colombia has five cities with over one 
million people--each have influential newspapers, and so do 
many smaller communities.
    In reality, it is this regional diversity that defines us 
as a nation. I could also argue that Colombia stands as a 
microcosm for all of Latin America. Consider, just for a 
moment, our geography. Central America ends at our border with 
Panama. From there, to the east, stretch 1000 miles of 
Caribbean coastline, at its center the walled city of 
Cartagena, once the third most powerful city of the Spanish 
Empire, is today a magnet for tourists from around the world. 
To the south, 600 miles along the Pacific Ocean is an area 
still largely undeveloped, with extraordinary potential, 
especially as Asia looks more and more to Latin America. We 
share borders with Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and with Brazil, at 
the very heart and soul of South America, the vast Amazon 
rainforest. Across our entire country, which is the size of 
Texas and California combined, 33 national parks shelter more 
plant and animal species per square mile than anywhere else on 
the planet.
    Yet it is the Andes Mountains, more than anything else, 
that have shaped Colombia as it is today. Most of the Andes, 
like the Rockies or the Alps, are one massive chain, rising 
above a continent. But in Colombia--and only in Colombia--the 
Andes literally branch out into three distinct ranges, with 
altitudes that reach 15,000 feet. Crossing Colombia by car is 
no easy task, and can take many days. The distance traveled in 
a 35 minute flight can take an eight to ten hour drive. No 
wonder Colombia was the first country in all of the Americas 
with a national airline.
    There is an old saying from your old West: ``Give me men 
that match our mountains.'' Colombia has been blessed with a 
people of energy, faith, and enterprise. We have 67 years of 
uninterrupted economic growth, and a pantheon of Colombians who 
have made a difference in the wider world, like Manuel 
Patarroyo, the scientist who has done more than anyone to 
eradicate malaria, or Rodolfo Llinas a worldwide recognized 
neurologist. There is our Nobel Laureate, Gabriel Garcia 
Marquez, whose novel ``One Hundred Years of Solitude'' has sold 
more than 30 million copies in over 40 languages, Fernando 
Botero, whose sculptures have lined Park Avenue and the Champs 
Elysees, Juan Pablo Montoya, our Formula Cart world Champion, 
and Shakira, our amazing Spanish rock superstar.
    I also take pride in reminding people that six out of every 
ten fresh-cut flowers imported to the United States come from 
Colombia, that we are your seventh largest source of crude 
petroleum, and will soon become the world's third largest 
exporter of coal. Such is the Colombia of our history and our 
hopes, a Colombia which today also faces fateful choices.
    The choices, and the crises, are, in my view, often 
misreported and misunderstood. I am regularly surprised and 
sometimes genuinely stunned by what I read in the foreign 
press. When you see your country's name continually misspelled, 
even in the most distinguished newspapers, you naturally worry 
about the rest of the reporting. And even when a wire service 
isn't saying that the United States is being drawn into a 
guerrilla war, some editorial board here is predicting my 
government's imminent collapse. A ripple can too easily be 
mistaken for a wave; the limelight on one event can obscure the 
complicated interplay of underlying events.
    The problem is not one of intentions.I know the need to 
capture and convey drama in a headline or in a news story. 
Still, I ask you to imagine what it is like when El Tiempo or 
our evening TV news reports a standoff between a guerrilla unit 
and an army platoon several miles away from Bogota, and the 
headline in the United States reads: ``Colombia's capital under 
siege.'' For us, every single casualty is cause for national 
concern, but it is not a signal of national collapse.
    To understand modern day Colombia, we must look beyond the 
incidents and see the conditions for what they are--or in this 
case, as they are NOT. For starters, Colombia is not in the 
midst of a civil war, despite what is continually said in the 
international media. Colombians have never referred to this 
conflict as a civil war, for the simple reason that it isn't 
one.
    A civil war occurs in a divided nation, torn apart into 
armed camps of more or less the same size. Ireland. the former 
Yugoslavia and the Congo--these are present day examples of 
civil wars. Colombia's case is dramatically different. There 
are approximately 35,000 well-armed and well-financed 
insurgents, both guerrilla and paramilitary, operating mainly 
in the remote countryside. They have inflicted enormous 
suffering, killing innocent civilians, driving others from 
their homes and villages, and blocking any chance for 
development and progress.
    But the insurgents make up barely one tenth of one percent 
of the total population. Militarily, their tactics are classic 
guerrilla--hit and run, strike and retreat. Every time they 
have faced the Colombian Armed Forces out in the open, they 
have been soundly defeated. And unlike guerrilla movements in 
other places, they have completely failed to convince 
Colombians that they provide a legitimate alternative to our 
tested democracy.
    The guerrilla's roots are in the 1940s and 50s, at the very 
height of the Cold War. In the decades that followed, however, 
their support steadily decreased until today, when the 
guerrillas can claim little more than three- or four-percent 
popular support. Even intellectuals and university students, 
once the bedrock of guerrilla sympathy, have turned against 
them as they wage continuous war on the civilian population.
    The guerillas' loss of support reflects more than the end 
of Cold War confrontation. Colombia today is a much more 
modern, urban and just society than it was a half century ago. 
Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a civil war; and even though 
billions of dollars generated by drug-trafficking sustain the 
violence, the guerillas cannot overthrow our democracy--and no 
one knows this better than they do.
    Yet the talk, so common here in the United States of a 
Colombian government under siege, on the verge of collapse, has 
given rise to another false assumption--namely, that Colombia 
is somehow another Vietnam. A quarter century after the fall of 
Saigon, the shadow of Vietnam understandably continues to shape 
public opinion and influence policy makers.
    But Colombia is no Vietnam, and for many reasons. While 
Vietnam was a divided country and an ideological battlefield--
its borders imposed by the Geneva Accords of 1954--Colombia is 
a unified nation with a strong national identity, where 95 
percent and more of our citizens believe in democracy, freedom 
of the press, and an open economy. While Vietnam had been a 
colony under foreign domination for over a century, Colombia 
has been a free and independent nation since defeating the 
Spanish empire in 1819. The Vietcong enjoyed significant 
support, while the Colombian insurgents are almost entirely 
without political support or sympathy. Equally important is the 
fact that while Vietnam was a distant Asian country, Colombia 
is an integral part of this hemisphere. Colombia is your 
neighbor, with Bogota roughly the same distance from New York 
as Los Angeles is.
    What must be understood is how drug-trafficking and its 
obscene profits have changed the very nature of our conflict. 
My own opinion--one shared by most Colombians--is that we would 
already be a nation at peace, were it not for the violence and 
corruption fueled by the illegal drug trade. No nation has 
suffered as severely as Colombia from the boom in the demand 
for illegal drugs over the last generation. Rather than fall 
victim to this menace, we have systematically opposed it, taken 
on and destroyed ruthless cartels from Medellin and Cali.
    The cost has been high. Imagine U.S. Supreme Court justices 
murdered in their chambers, or federal judges from Miami, Los 
Angeles or Chicago killed by the scores. Imagine one fifth of 
your FBI and local police forces wounded or killed with their 
wives and children also targeted. Imagine courageous public 
officials--Cabinet Ministers and Mayors, Senators, Governors 
and Presidential candidates--gunned down for giving voice to a 
society that refuses to back down. Imagine being given just ONE 
option, plata o bala--a bribe or a bullet.
    And I ask all of you to imagine newspaper editors, 
publishers and reporters shot in cold blood, their offices 
bombed into rubble, or exiled because they would not be 
intimidated, because they held on to the conviction that was 
worth living for--and all too tragically, all too often worth 
dying for as well.
    Imagine this, my friends, and you get a clear idea of what 
Colombia has endured in this generation. Heroic men and women 
have paid the ultimate price, earning the lasting admiration of 
all Colombians, and we will never forget their sacrifice.
    So we fight on. We push back the forces of violence--and 
then we read that Colombia is on the verge of collapse, of 
becoming a narco-terrorist state. Nothing is further from the 
truth. Indeed, after the break up of the cartels, the nature of 
drug-trafficking has changed dramatically. Unlike the days of 
Pablo Escobar, the drug war has shifted from the cities to the 
Amazon region, particularly the Putumayo. Today, a new breed of 
criminals operates in smaller organizations, underground, with 
closer ties to traffickers in other countries. Indeed, drug 
mafias, too, have become increasingly globalized.
    There is a growing awareness in Colombia, the United 
States, and around the world, that the threat of drug 
trafficking is no longer a national or regional issue. For 
example, the precursor chemicals needed to process cocaine are 
smuggled into Colombia from abroad, while most of the tainted 
profits that drive the drug trade end up invested in financial 
markets abroad. As long as a demand exists, there will be 
suppliers somewhere to meet it. This is why we urgently need 
improvements in education and prevention, as well as more drug 
treatment facilities.
    Colombia's resolve to combat production and distribution 
has not lessened, but intensified. Last October, after months 
of preparation and with the help of your drug enforcement 
agencies, we conducted the most important worldwide drug bust 
in over five years. In Operation Millennium, 30 of the most 
powerful of the new breed of drug traffickers were arrested 
across Colombia and elsewhere. And we have sent those still at 
large the strongest message, in the clearest possible terms: 
Drug-traffickers will never be tolerated in Colombia, and we 
are determined to destroy them and their empires.
    But Colombia cannot and should not continue to bear the 
greatest weight of this global crisis. I have taken the message 
of greater burden sharing in the fight against drugs to the 
international community. President Clinton has committed the 
United States to do more in this crusade. We discussed this at 
our first meeting, in August of 1998, and since then we have 
worked closely to execute a bilateral strategy. Leaders on 
Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats alike, have been 
essential in this effort.
    In some quarters, I know there is resistance to U.S. 
assistance for Colombia. The most common argument is that you 
could become, and I quote, ``entangled in a Vietnam-like 
quagmire.'' I would like to make one more point about this--one 
that I cannot emphasize too strongly.
    Implicit in the Vietnam analogy is the belief that the 
United States would end up committing troops to Colombia. But 
that is flat out impossible. Neither your public opinion nor 
ours would support or permit such a move--and neither your 
government nor ours has considered this in even the most 
extreme circumstances. It is simply not on the table, and as 
long as I am President this will not happen. You can quote me 
on that.
    What Colombia has proposed, and your government endorsed, 
is giving us the resources, the hardware and the training 
needed to combat the changing nature of the drug trade. This 
means exposing and penetrating remote jungle areas once beyond 
the sustained reach of our security forces. Earlier on, I spoke 
of our unique geographic make-up and how this has influenced 
our development as a nation. Well, this unique geography also 
plays a critical part in the war against narcotics, where often 
inaccessible areas have become hot beds for cocaine 
production--areas we could not fully control in the past, but 
where our reach is now becoming increasingly stronger.
    Our strategy here is twofold: in the end, we must negotiate 
a meaningful peace agreement with the guerrillas; but from the 
beginning, we must root out the drug-traffickers and the 
violence they cause our society and the damage they do to our 
economy. U.S. assistance is meant to support counter-narcotics 
operations, as well as alternative crop development, economic 
stimulation, and government reform.
    Our strategy is called Plan Colombia, a comprehensive 
blueprint for our future. And while our goal is peace, our 
first order of business has to be the strengthening of our 
institutions, political, judicial and military. No peace 
process can succeed without the institutional strength to 
support it. Above all, our democratic institutions must serve 
the people, and this means guaranteeing their fundamental human 
rights.
    Plan Colombia's cost is estimated at 7.5 billion dollars 
over three years. My government is pledged to providing 4 
billion, while actively seeking additional support from the 
international community. In addition to the Clinton 
Administration's assistance package, we will be meeting with 
European leaders at a conference this July in Spain.
    I have called our efforts ``Diplomacy for Peace''--because 
if we have learned anything from the recent progress in 
Northern Ireland, Central America, and the Middle East, it is 
that the international community must be actively engaged in 
order for peace to prevail.
    A Colombia at peace is in everyone's interest. Not only 
will it bring an end to the violence and human rights 
violations, so those displaced from their homes can return to 
them unafraid. A Colombia at peace also depends on more 
effective counter-narcotics operations, in terms of both 
interdiction and alternative crops for subsistence farmers. 
That means not only less violence on our streets, but less 
drug-trafficking on yours. Every shipment of drugs we stop in 
Colombia is a shipment that doesn't reach American 
neighborhoods, playgrounds, and schools.
    In Colombia, the last year and a half has witnessed 
dramatic steps forward in the name of peace. Never in our 
history has there been such a commitment, from all sectors of 
our society, to bring a lasting end to the violence and an 
honorable end to the insurgency.
    Only days after my election, I flew to the jungle to meet 
with the leaders of FARC, the oldest and largest guerrilla 
group. I was the first President to do so. Since then, we have 
agreed to a twelve point agenda for negotiations. And only last 
month, government and guerrilla delegations traveled in Europe 
together, in order to show the guerrillas, who have lived in 
almost total seclusion for decades, how the world has changed 
and the wide range of new social democratic models.
    More recently, last weekend we started with the public 
hearings procedure, which will give citizens the chance to make 
their contributions to the peace process.
    At the same time, Richard Grasso, Chairman of the New York 
Stock Exchange, Congressman Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts, Jim 
Kimsey, founder of America Online, and Joe Robert are just a 
few of those who have met with the guerrilla leaders, carrying 
a realistic message of progress and development, of the shared 
prosperity that can come with peace. Such exchanges go a long 
way to remove outdated stereotypes and suspicions. They show 
the guerrillas the intentions of the international community, 
the opportunities available to a united, peaceful Colombia, and 
the potent fact that guerrilla warfare has no part in a modern 
nation.
    Perhaps more important have been the strides on the 
domestic front. A little over a year ago, more than 10 million 
Colombians--almost one third of the entire country--marched 
peacefully through our streets, calling for a negotiated end to 
the insurgency. And just as Plan Colombia recognizes the need 
for strong, accountable institutions to sustain any peace 
agreement, we are convinced that only by engaging civil society 
as a whole--labor unions and business executives, teachers and 
health care workers, farmers and truck drivers--only then can 
we meet everyone's legitimate needs.
    Equally important is the economy. Job creation, low 
inflation and interest rates, sustained GDP growth--all of this 
plays a decisive role in strengthening our society. So does 
expanding trade and attracting more foreign investment--another 
way the international community can help. The sheer size of our 
economy--around $86 billion dollars--makes Colombia one of the 
largest and most attractive markets for U.S. trade and 
investment in all the Americas. Bilateral trade with the U.S. 
exceeded $8 billion dollars last year. There are over 120 U.S. 
companies operating successfully in Colombia, most of them for 
many decades. Political strength and economic health are bound 
together. At the end of the day, Colombia cannot be a nation at 
peace if it is not a nation in prosperity.
    Plan Colombia also includes the most ambitious and 
organized strategy of social reform that has ever been proposed 
in the country. The purpose of this reform is to create new and 
better opportunities for progress for the poorest Colombians.
    This component of Plan Colombia includes on the one hand, 
the Social Emergency Fund made up of three basic programs: 
``Hands to work,'' ``Subsidy for Poor Families,'' and 
``Training for the Unemployed Youth.'' All of these programs 
geared toward creating a better quality of life for the most 
needy through investment in health, education and job creation.
    On the other hand, we will assign more than $2 billion 
dollars for Alternative Development and Human Rights and 
Humanitarian Aid programs. The first program seeks to go beyond 
crop substitution by promoting a comprehensive regional 
development strategy that will generate legal work alternatives 
for Colombian peasants. In matters of Human Rights and 
Humanitarian Aid, we intend to improve the mechanisms for the 
respect and protection of these rights and the attention of the 
victims of the armed conflict with special emphasis on 
displaced people.
    One the main enemies we face to make Colombia a peaceful 
and prosper nation is corruption. This terrible cancer, on one 
hand, undermines the legitimacy of the Government and, on the 
other, subverts social ethics, creating a vicious cycle of 
mistrust and despair.
    For instance, a large corruption scandal was recently 
uncovered in our Congress, thanks to my government's 
accusations. As a result, a very serious investigation is being 
carried out to uncover those responsible.
    However, the magnitude of this case demands a more profound 
response, one that assures this will never happen again. It is 
necessary to make a radical reform of our political system, and 
especially of the legislative branch.
    For that reason, last week, based on our Constitution and 
our laws, I proposed to the Colombian people a referendum, in 
which they will vote for a change for honesty and transparency 
in the way of doing politics. More than 90% of the Colombian 
people have expressed their support for this initiative, which 
I am sure will serve as the cornerstone of the transformation 
of our democratic system.
    In closing, I would like to extend to all of you, as 
leaders in American journalism, an open invitation to visit 
Colombia. Talking about misperceptions will do little unless 
you are given first-hand access. Our problems are formidable, 
yet our nationwide determination to overcome them is making a 
difference. I want nothing more than to demonstrate that our 
resolve and our progress are much more than words delivered 
from a podium.
    Behind my invitation stands a big, bold and beautiful land. 
It is a land full of people who would welcome you in their 
homes and neighborhoods, villages and schools, their soccer 
fields, offices and places of worship. You will hear stories of 
great success and serious struggle. You will witness sorrow 
mixed with joy. And only then will you understand the real 
Colombia.
    By helping us, I believe that in the truest sense you also 
help your own country. Only provide us with the tools and we 
will do the job. I thank you for the opportunity to speak here 
today, and I hope for a new beginning in the way you see and 
report Colombia.

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