Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
before the
Senate Narcotics Caucus
Senate Finance Committee
Subcommittee on International Trade

February 22, 2000

U.S. Assistance to the Andean Region

Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity
today to discuss U.S. assistance to the Andean region. I have just
returned from a visit to Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, and I look
forward to sharing some first-hand impressions. I know that we are all
very concerned about the impact of the situation in the Andean region
on the United States. The importance of fighting the scourge of
illegal drugs is an issue on which we can all agree. Narcotics have
deleterious effects not only on the health of the person who consumes
them, but have a corrosive effect on the democratic institutions and
the economies of the region. We look forward to working with Congress
in order to take decisive action to address these issues.

I will speak in depth about Colombia and our proposed assistance
package in support of Plan Colombia. I will then touch briefly on the
other Andean countries and what the USG is doing to assist them. I
will then conclude with the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA).


Colombia, in particular, is a matter of vital importance to the United
States. We are fortunate to be working with President Pastrana and his
Administration. After strained relations with the tainted Samper
Administration, President Pastrana's tenure offers the United States
and the rest of the international community a golden opportunity to
work with Colombia in confronting these threats. President Pastrana's
commitment to achieve peace is indisputable. He has also demonstrated
his willingness to root out narcotics trafficking while remaining
firmly committed to democratic values and principles.

Colombia is currently enduring critical societal, national security,
and economic problems that stem in large part from the drug trade and
the internal conflict that it finances. This situation has limited the
Government of Colombia's sovereignty in large parts of the country.
These areas have become the prime coca and opium poppy producing
zones. This problem directly affects the United States, as drug
trafficking and abuse cause enormous social, health, and financial
damage in our communities. Over 80 percent of the world's supply of
cocaine is grown, processed, or transported through Colombia. The U.S.
Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that up to 75 percent of the heroin
consumed on the East Coast of the United States comes from Colombia --
although Colombia produces less than 3 percent of the world's heroin.

Colombia's national sovereignty is increasingly threatened by
well-armed and ruthless guerrillas, paramilitaries and the
narco-trafficking interests that are inextricably linked. Although the
Government is not directly at risk, these threats are slowly eroding
the authority of the central government and depriving it of the
ability to govern in outlying areas. Colombia must re-establish its
authority over these narcotics-producing "sanctuaries." Bogota cannot
successfully resolve its many socio-economic problems, establish
respect for human rights or achieve peace while these "sanctuaries"
flourish and while the illegal armed groups in them earn hundreds of
millions of dollars from the drug trade.

We estimate that the FARC now has 7,000-11,000 active members, the ELN
between 3,000-6,000 and that there are an estimated 5,000-7,000
paramilitary members. They all participate in this narcotics
connection. Estimates of guerrilla income from narcotics trafficking
and other illicit activities, such as kidnapping and extortion, are
unreliable, but clearly exceed $100 million a year, and could be far
greater. Of this, we estimate some 30-40 percent comes directly from
the drug trade. Paramilitary groups also have clear ties to important
narcotics traffickers, and paramilitary leaders have even publicly
admitted their participation in the drug trade.

This situation is worsened by the fact that the Colombian economy is
undergoing its first recession in 25 years, and its deepest recession
of the last 70 years. Real gross domestic product is estimated to have
fallen by 3.5 percent last year, the result of external shocks, fiscal
imbalances, and a further weakening of confidences related to
stepped-up activity by insurgent groups. Unemployment has rocketed
from under 9 percent in 1995 to about 20 percent in 1999, adding to
the pool of unemployed workers who can be drawn into the narcotics
trade or into insurgent or paramilitary groups. This recession has
also sapped the Colombian government of resources to address societal
and political pressures, fight the narcotics trade, or respond to its
35-year internal conflict.

Plan Colombia

The Government of Colombia has taken the initiative to confront the
challenges it faces with the development of a strategic approach to
address its national challenges. The "Plan Colombia -- Plan for Peace,
Prosperity, and Strengthening of the State" is an ambitious, but
realistic, package of mutually reinforcing policies to revive
Colombia's battered economy, to strengthen the democratic pillars of
the society, to promote the peace process and to eliminate
"sanctuaries" for narcotics producers and traffickers. The strategy
combines existing Colombian policies with new initiatives to forge an
integrated approach to resolving Colombia's most pressing national

The USG consulted closely on the key elements that make up the Plan
with Colombian leaders and senior officials. It ties together many
individual approaches and strategies already being pursued in Colombia
and elsewhere in the region. The Plan itself was formulated, drafted
and approved in Colombia by President Pastrana and his team. Without
its Colombian stamp, the Plan would not have the support and
commitment of Colombia behind it. Colombian ownership and vigorous GOC
implementation are essential to the future success of the Plan.

The USG shares the assessment that an integrated, comprehensive
approach to Colombia's interlocking challenges holds the best promise
of success. For example, counternarcotics efforts will be most
effective when combined with rigorous GOC law enforcement and military
cooperation, complementary alternative development programs and
measures to ensure human rights accountability. Similarly, promoting
respect for the rule of law is just as essential for attracting
foreign investors as it is for securing a durable peace agreement.

I met with President Pastrana and his Plan Colombia team on February
13-14 to discuss the Plan's implementation. We reviewed with the
Colombians a wide array of coordination and implementation issues. I
believe we have launched a process of continuous bilateral discussions
that will refine and make more effective our implementation policies.

Before I describe for you our proposal to assist Plan Colombia, let me
remind you that the Plan cannot be understood simply in terms of a
U.S. contribution. Plan Colombia is a $7.5 billion plan of which
President Pastrana has said Colombia will provide $4 billion of its
scarce resources. He called on the international community to provide
the remaining $3.5 billion. In response to this request, the
Administration is proposing a $1.6 billion assistance package to
Colombia of new monies and current funding. Our request for new monies
includes a $954 million FY 2000 emergency supplemental and $318
million in FY 2001 funding. A significant share of our package will go
to reduce the supply of drugs to the United States by assisting the
Government of Colombia in its efforts to limit the production,
refinement, and transportation of cocaine and heroin. Building on
current funding of over $330 million in FY 2000 and FY 2001, the
Administration's proposal includes an additional $818 million funded
through international affairs programs (function 150) and $137 million
through defense programs (function 050) in FY 2000, and $256 million
funded through function 150 and $62 million through function 050 in FY
2001. We are looking to the European Union and the International
Financial Institutions to provide additional funding.

The Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Treasury, as well as
the Agency for International Development, the Drug Enforcement
Administration, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy all
played major roles in proposing and crafting the Plan Colombia
two-year support package. They will all play essential roles in the
interagency implementation effort.

The Administration's proposal for support for Plan Colombia addresses
the breadth of Colombia's challenges, and will help Colombia in its
efforts to fight the drug trade, foster peace, increase the rule of
law, improve human rights, expand economic development, and institute
justice reform. Much of the assistance for social assistance programs
will come from the International Financial Institutions (IFI), future
potential bilateral donors and Colombia's own funds.

There has been an explosive growth in the coca crop in Putumayo, in
southern Colombia and, to a lesser extent, in Norte de Santander, in
the northeast. Putumayo is an area that remains beyond the reach of
the government's coca eradication operations. Strong guerrilla
presence and weak state authority have contributed to the lawless
situation in the Putumayo. As our success in Peru and Bolivia
demonstrates, it is possible to combat narcotics production in the
Andean region. This package will aid the Government of Colombia in its
plans to launch a comprehensive step-by-step effort in Putumayo and
Caqueta to counter the coca explosion, including eradication,
interdiction, and alternative development over the next several years.

The push into drug-producing southern Colombia will give greater
sovereignty over that region to the GOC, allowing the CNP to eradicate
drug cultivation and destroy cocaine laboratories. Increased
interdiction will make the entire drug business more dangerous for
traffickers and less profitable. Meanwhile, our support for Plan
Colombia will also assist internally displaced people with emergency
relief in the short term and fund alternative economic development to
provide licit sources of income in the long term. USAID and DOJ will
fund programs to improve human rights conditions and justice
institutions, giving the Colombian people greater access to the
benefits of democratic institutions.

Our counternarcotics package for Colombia was designed with the
benefit of knowing what has worked in Bolivia and Peru. With USG
assistance, both countries have been able to reduce dramatically coca
production. This was achieved through successful efforts to
re-establish government control and bring government services to
former drug producing safe havens. Both Bolivia and Peru combined
vigorous eradication and interdiction efforts with incentives for
small farmers to switch to legal crops. We aim to help Colombia
accomplish a similar record of success.

In doing this, we cannot, and will not, abandon our allies in Bolivia
and Peru. Their successes are real and inspired. But they are also
tenuous against the seductive dangers of the narcotics trade. This is
why our Plan Colombia support package includes $46 million for
regional interdiction efforts and another $30 million for alternative
development in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. These countries deserve our
continued support to solidify the gains they have striven so hard to
obtain. We are not content to allow the cultivation and production of
narcotics to be simply displaced from one Andean country to another.

Components of U.S. Assistance Package

The proposed U.S. assistance has five components:

1. Boosting Governing Capacity and Respect for Human Rights:

The Administration proposes funding $93 million over the next two
years to fund programs administered by the Agency for International
Development (AID) and the Departments of State and Justice to
strengthen human rights and administration of justice institutions.
Specific initiatives include increasing protection of human rights
NGOs, supporting human rights NGOs' information and education
programs, creating and training special units of prosecutors and
judicial police to investigate human rights cases involving GOC
officials, and training public defenders and judges. We propose to
allocate $15 million dollars to support GOC and NGO entities
specifically focused on protecting human rights. Boosting governing
capacity also includes training and support for GOC anti-corruption,
anti-money laundering and anti-kidnapping personnel.

2. Expansion of Counternarcotics Operations into Southern Colombia:

The world's greatest expansion in narcotics cultivation is occurring
in insurgent-dominated southern Colombia. With this package, the
Administration proposes to fund $600 million over the next two years
to help train and equip two additional special counternarcotics
battalions (CNBN), provide 30 Blackhawk helicopters and 33 Huey
helicopters to make the CNBNs air-mobile and to provide them with
intelligence. These troops will accompany and back up police
eradication and interdiction efforts. They will also provide secure
conditions for the implementation of aid programs, including
alternative development and relocation assistance, to those impacted
by the ending of illegal narcotics cultivation.

3. Alternative Economic Development:

The Administration includes new funding of $145 million over the next
two years to provide economic alternatives for small farmers who now
grow coca and poppy, and to increase local governments' ability to
respond to the needs of their people. As interdiction and eradication
make narcotics farming less profitable, these programs will assist
communities in the transition to licit economic activity.

4. More Aggressive Interdiction:

Enhancing Colombia's ability to interdict air, water-borne and road
trafficking is essential to decreasing the price paid to farmers for
coca leaf and to decreasing the northward flow of drugs. The program
includes funding over the next two years for radar upgrades to give
Colombia a greater ability to intercept traffickers, and also to
provide intelligence to allow the Colombian police and military to
respond quickly to narcotics activity. It will support the United
States' forward operating location in Manta, Ecuador, which will be
used for narcotics-related missions. Additionally, these funds will
provide assistance to enhance interdiction efforts in Peru, Bolivia
and Ecuador to prevent narcotics traffickers and growers from moving
into neighboring countries.

5. Assistance for the Colombian National Police (CNP):

The Administration proposes additional funding of $96 million over the
next two years to enhance the CNP's ability to eradicate coca and
poppy fields. This request builds upon our FY-99 counternarcotics
assistance of $158 million to the CNP. Our additional assistance will
upgrade existing aircraft, purchase additional spray aircraft, and
provide secure bases for increased operations in the coca-growing
centers. It will also provide more intelligence on the narcotics

All U.S. counternarcotics assistance to Colombia will continue to be
in the form of goods and services. The counternarcotics components of
Plan Colombia will be implemented by the Colombian police and
military, and there are no plans to commit any U.S. forces to
implement militarily any aspect of this Plan. On the ground, our
military assistance will be limited to training vetted
counternarcotics units through the temporary assignment of carefully
picked U.S. military trainers.

Human Rights Dimension

We have also strongly supported the efforts of the Pastrana
Administration to advance the protection of human rights and to
prosecute those who abuse them. Complicity by elements of Colombia's
security forces with the right-wing militia or paramilitary groups has
been a serious problem, although the GOC has taken important steps in
holding senior military and police officials accountable for
participation in human rights violations. Since assuming office in
August of 1998, President Pastrana has demonstrated his Government's
commitment to protecting human rights by the dismissal of four
generals and numerous mid-level officers and NCOs for collaboration
with paramilitaries or failure to confront them aggressively. There
have also been repeated government declarations that collaboration
between members of security forces and paramilitaries will not be
tolerated. More must be done, however.

U.S. assistance to Colombian military and police forces is provided
strictly in accordance with Section 563 of the FY 2000 Foreign
Operations Appropriations Act -- the so-called Leahy Amendment. No
assistance is provided to any unit of the security forces for which we
have credible evidence of commission of gross violations of human
rights, unless the Secretary is able to certify that the Government of
Colombia has taken effective measures to bring those responsible to
justice. We are firmly committed to the Leahy Amendment, and have a
rigorous process in place to screen those units being considered for

The Government of Colombia also acknowledges the urgent need to
improve physical security and protection for human rights workers and
the NGOs to which they belong. Currently, the GOC has dedicated $5.6
million to provide physical protection to approximately 80 human
rights activists and their offices. The Plan outlines measures to
strengthen the Human Rights Ombudsman's office, as well as to
establish a Permanent National Commission on Human Rights and
International Humanitarian Law.

Peace Process

President Pastrana has made bringing an end to Colombia's civil strife
through a peace agreement with the various insurgent groups a central
goal of his Administration. President Pastrana believes, and the
United States Government agrees, that ending the civil conflict and
eliminating all its harmful side effects is central to solving
Colombia's multi-faceted problems.

A peace agreement would stabilize the nation, help Colombia's economy
to recover and allow for further improvement in the protection of
human rights. A successful peace process would also restore Colombian
government authority and control in the coca-growing region. We hope
the peace negotiations going on now between the GOC and the FARC and
the GOC's informal discussion with the ELN prove successful. We
applaud the Colombian government's determination to press the
guerrillas to cease their practices of narcotics trafficking,
kidnapping, forced recruitment of children and attacks against the
civilian population.


In Bolivia, President Hugo Banzer's administration has embarked on an
ambitious five-year plan, called the Dignity Plan, to eliminate all
illicit coca and permanently remove the country from the international
narcotics circuit. A goal that seemed utopian when it was announced in
early 1998 is now actually within reach. More than 73 percent of the
country's illicit coca has been eradicated, in less than 50 percent of
the allotted time. It is vital that the Bolivians consolidate these
gains by providing alternative development options to the farmers who
are abandoning the coca trade, while maintaining the focus on
eradication and interdiction. U.S. assistance has been and will
continue to be essential to their success.


For the past year, Venezuela has been engaged in a dramatic,
controversial exercise of democracy, with the goal of reforming the
nation's government in order to make it work more fairly and more
consistently in the interest of the people. A new Constitution,
adopted with overwhelming support, has set the stage for elections for
most elected positions, including President, on May 28. Restructuring
of the government has been accompanied by dramatic changes in the
political landscape. New political parties and coalitions can be
expected to emerge and the final shape cannot be anticipated at this
time. At this important crossroads, it is important to continue to
emphasize the importance of staying within democratic bounds and
establishing precedents for transparent, effective and responsive
government. We will continue to engage in bilateral cooperation in a
wide variety of areas, including flood relief and reconstruction,
counternarcotics, anti-corruption and judicial reform, and creation of
an attractive investment and business climate. On my recent trip to
Venezuela, I had a full range of discussions with Venezuelan officials
on various issues -- including counternarcotics.


We enjoy a strong bilateral relationship with Peru that spans many
issues, from counternarcotics to commercial ties. Our assistance seeks
to strengthen democratic institutions in Peru, enhance the Government
of Peru's ability to interdict and disrupt narcotics production and
distribution, and to reduce poverty and promote economic and social
development. Our democracy assistance promotes civic and voter
education, journalism training and support for press freedom
organizations, election monitoring, judicial training, increased
political participation of women and increased citizen participation
in local government. U.S. programs also help to strengthen and expand
the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman and to support the work of
credible human rights NGOs.

Peru is a source country for cocaine, and the U.S. has enjoyed
excellent cooperation from the GOP in counternarcotics activities,
resulting in a 66 percent decline in coca cultivation from 1995 to
1999. Our counterdrug assistance provides training and assistance for
aerial, maritime, riverine and ground interdiction of drug shipments,
enhanced law enforcement, alternative development assistance, and drug
education and demand reduction. With U.S. assistance, GOP interdiction
and "shootdown" operations effectively shut down drug traffickers'
northern "air bridge" to Colombia. To reinforce and maintain the
success of the interdiction programs and help sustain reductions in
coca production, the U.S.-Peru alternative development program
provides alternative income opportunities for coca growers. Assistance
for more than 25,000 hectares of licit crops focuses on promoting the
production of legal crops such as coffee and cacao. To date, the
alternative development program has financed 850 kilometers of road
rehabilitation, constructed 21 bridges, and built two irrigation
systems. INC funds also provide training to Peruvian police units to
dismantle international criminal organizations.


Both political instability and an economic crisis currently endanger
democracy in Ecuador. In January an uprising by an indigenous
political movement, supported by elements of the army, provided
unconstitutional pressure on President Mahuad that forced him from
office. The military clearly failed in its duty to protect the
country's democratically elected leaders and played an unacceptable
role in the political crisis. We have strongly expressed our
condemnation of the military's role in the January crisis to its
leadership. Key Ecuadorian officials publicly acknowledged that our
pressure was a key factor in the restoration of civilian rule. Within
hours Mahuad's constitutional successor, former Vice President Gustavo
Noboa, assumed office. Nevertheless, we have stressed to the
Ecuadorian military leadership that it has a constitutional duty to
protect the nation's democratically elected leadership and that it
cannot contribute, either actively or inactively, to an
unconstitutional change in government.

While we reject the means by which President Mahuad was removed from
office, we are committed to working with the Noboa government on the
full range of issues of mutual interest, including our joint
counternarcotics operations from the Manta forward operating location.
Ex-President Mahuad has since called on all Ecuadorians to support
President Noboa. Noboa's principal challenge will be to rapidly
address the economic crisis in Ecuador and restore public confidence.
We have urged Ecuador to work closely with the IMF and take the
macroeconomic steps necessary to put Ecuador on the path to recovery.
The Noboa government has put forward a package of necessary reforms,
and I strongly urged all parties in the Ecuadorian Congress to pass

Andean Trade Preference Act

The Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) provides tariff benefits
comparable to those now granted in CBI to four beneficiary countries
(Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru). Venezuela is not currently an
ATPA beneficiary. The program expires on December 4, 2001. It appears
to be a successful and beneficial program for all our countries.
Ambassador Fisher will address this trade benefit and the
Administration's trade policy in support of the Andean region's
anti-narcotics efforts.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members, the Administration has been
pleased by the bipartisan support from both Houses that share our
concern for Colombia and the Andean region's future. Concerted action
now could help over time to stem the illicit narcotics flow to the
United States. I look forward to working with Congress to address
these issues.