Statement of Rand Beers
Assistant Sectary of State
Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
before the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs
Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee

February 29, 2000

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today about
the situation in Colombia and about the threat it poses to regional

The situation in Colombia is critical. Colombia is increasingly
threatened by well-armed and ruthless narcotics traffickers, supported
by guerrillas and paramilitaries. The Colombian Government is unable
to exert effective control over thousands of square miles of its own
territory. Not only do Colombian people in these areas suffer from the
violence and extortion of the armed groups; they also suffer from the
government's inability to deliver services and the rule of law. As
long as the government cannot operate, children's educational and
health needs will go unmet, Colombia's globally critical environment
will be left unprotected, and farmers will be unable to support their
families through legitimate, protected trade. People in the border
areas of neighboring countries are put at risk by the instability and
violence as well. Unlike in past decades, when Colombia's legitimate
economy performed better than most of Latin America despite the drug
violence, today the impact of the violence on Colombia's investment
climate has plunged the economy into deep recession. The corrosive
powers of narcotics and narcotics money are ever- present threats to
the institutions and economies of the region. The environmental threat
may be even greater as coca growers clear-cut thousands of hectares of
rainforest each year and pour toxins like potassium permanganate,
sulfuric acid and acetone into the Amazon and Orinoco river systems.
The situation in Colombia poses a considerable number of direct
threats to U.S. national security interests as well, not the least of
which are the thousands of Americans killed by drugs and drug-related
violence each year, the losses to our economy from drug-related
accidents and inefficiency in the workplace and the social and human
costs of abuse and addiction.

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. In Peru and Bolivia, we have partners
with sustained success combating the drug industry that are eager to
continue working with the United States. We should not squander this
opportunity. What the United States does or does not do for Colombia
over the next several months will have a great impact on the future of
our two countries, the Andean region and our hemisphere.

The Current Situation

Dealing with our own domestic narcotics problem must include helping
Colombia dismantle the drug networks operating on its soil. Colombia
is the world's leading producer of cocaine (two thirds of Andean coca
cultivation occurs in Colombia with even more cocaine being processed
and being transported within its borders) and is an important supplier
of heroin to the U.S. market. We have all seen how these drugs have
poisoned entire American communities, shattering families and
destroying lives.

Colombia has also paid a high price. Illicit narcotics have corrupted
its institutions and provided funding for illegal armed groups:
powerfully armed left-wing guerrillas and right-wing militias that are
perpetuating a 40-year-old insurgency. Today, large swaths of Colombia
remain beyond the control of the Colombian government, and are
incubators of lawlessness, violence and narco-corruption. Efforts to
restore order in these prime coca and opium poppy producing zones are
violently opposed by the narcotics traffickers and the various
guerrillas and paramilitary groups in league with them.

Colombia must reestablish its authority over narcotics-producing
sanctuaries. The country's many social and economic problems cannot be
successfully resolved while narco-financed armed groups flourish in
these lawless zones. Estimates of guerrilla income from narcotics
trafficking and other illicit activities are undependable, but the
drug trade is definitely their largest single source of income.
Paramilitary groups also have clear ties to important narcotics
traffickers and obtain much of their funding from them. Like his FARC
counterparts, paramilitary leader Carlos Castano has publicly admitted
taxing the drug trade. As a result, these groups are well funded and
well armed. The strength of Colombia's armed insurgent groups has
limited the effectiveness of joint U.S./Colombian counternarcotics
efforts. In order for our counternarcotics programs ultimately to be
successful, we cannot allow certain areas of the country, like
Putumayo, to be off-limits for counternarcotics operations.

There is a need to re-establish government order in Colombia for human
rights purposes. According to the Colombian NGO Pais Libre, guerrilla,
paramilitary, and other criminal groups kidnapped 2,945 people last
year, including 51 foreigners. This is a 33 percent increase from
1998, with the two busiest groups, the FARC and the ELN, combining for
half of the abductions. Kidnapping is neither an insurgent nor a
political statement. It is a crime. Colombia must disrupt the
narco-financing of these groups, regardless of any political
orientation they may claim, if any comprehensive solution to
Colombia's problems is going to succeed.


The Government of Colombia has risen to this challenge and is
confronting these threats. The "Plan Colombia" is a package of
mutually reinforcing policies to revive Colombia's battered economy,
to strengthen the democratic pillars of society, to promote the peace
process and to combat the narcotics industry. The strategy combines
existing Colombian policies with ambitious new initiatives in forging
an integrated approach to that nation's most pressing challenges by
strengthening government institutions, promoting economic recovery,
carrying out social reform and boosting counternarcotic efforts. The
United States did consult with the Colombian leadership throughout the
plan's development. But the plan was formulated, drafted and approved
by President Pastrana and his team in Colombia.

Plan Colombia cannot be understood simply in terms of the U.S.
contribution. In all, Plan Colombia is a $7.5 billion program toward
which President Pastrana has pledged some $4 billion of Colombia's own
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. A significant share of our package will go to reduce the
supply of drugs coming into the United States by assisting the
government of Colombia in its efforts to confront the cocaine and
heroin industries. This focus on enforcement-related assistance, the
so-called "stick", will allow other sponsors to provide support for
the "carrot," developmental and humanitarian assistance projects for
which they have special interests and expertise.

Now, the Colombians have asked us to provide support in implementing
the Plan. Just as we consulted with them on "Plan Colombia," they have
consulted with us regarding this proposed assistance package. The
result is a package of assistance that Colombia needs and can use. The
composition of this proposal factors in Colombian contributions and
the expected contributions of other supporters. International
financial institutions are already engaged. Both the Colombians and we
fully expect additional support to be forthcoming from bilateral and
multilateral sources, primarily to assist economic development and
social services.

Our assistance for Plan Colombia is intended to meet the needs that
the other sources cannot. It is based on the shared hope of achieving
peace and prosperity in Colombia through the overall reduction of
illicit drug production and trafficking, thereby allowing the
Colombian government to establish democratic control and provide
services and infrastructure throughout its national territory.

Plan Colombia was designed with the benefit of knowing what has worked
in Bolivia and Peru. With U.S. assistance, both countries have been
able to reduce coca production dramatically. This was achieved through
successful efforts to re-establish government control and bring
government services to former drug producing safehavens. Both Bolivia
and Peru combined vigorous eradication and interdiction efforts with
alternative development incentives for small farmers to switch to
legal crops and other licit ways to make a living. Colombia's aim is
to achieve 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 development
in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These countries deserve our continued
support to solidify the gains they have striven so hard to attain. We
have no intention of allowing cultivation and production of narcotics
simply to relocate in an international game of cat-and-mouse.

Colombian Efforts

The Colombian National Police (CNP), under the direction of General
Serrano, has upheld its standing as one of the premier
counternarcotics forces in the world. Now, the Colombian armed forces
have adopted a similar commitment to counternarcotics in support of
the CNP's counternarcotics mandate.

At the same time, important cultural changes are also taking place
within the armed services. Defense Minister Ramirez and General
Tapias, Commander of the Armed Forces, have acted to remedy the
tradition of human rights abuses and impunity that have tainted the
military's international reputation and strained our bilateral
relations. Respect for human rights remains an issue of high priority
in Colombia, and the record shows that the current civilian and
military leadership has the will to tackle this challenge. That said,
all assistance to Colombian security forces will continue to depend on
the vetting of all intended recipients as required by U.S. law.

The new leadership realizes that one of the best ways to attack the
guerrillas is to attack their financing, in the form of narcotics
profits. The Colombian Army has greatly expanded cooperation with and
support to the Colombian National Police, and formed its first
counternarcotics battalion. This battalion is a 950-person unit with a
CNP platoon attached. We must continue working with the Colombian
military to bring their capabilities up to a level where they can
successfully operate alongside the CNP and contribute to the
counternarcotics effort. The CNP alone is simply not large enough or
properly trained to provide the security necessary for major
operations against cultivation and trafficking in southern Colombia.

The need for counternarcotics assistance to Colombia is great and we
will continue to provide it in the form of goods and services.
However, we do not intend or desire to commit U.S. forces in Colombia.
On the ground, our assistance will be limited. We will train approved
units, we will provide technical assistance and we will help develop
programs. Still, there is more we can do. The United States can
continue to urge the international community to support Colombia in
this struggle and we encourage other potential donors to follow the
example of the Administration's proposed $1.6 billion assistance

Components of U.S. Assistance Package

The Administration is proposing a $1.6 billion assistance package to
Colombia combining new monies with current funding. Building on
current funding of over $330 million in FY 2000 and FY 2001, our
request for new monies includes a $954 million FY 2000 emergency
supplemental and $318 million in additional FY 2001 funding. This will
result in assistance totaling just over $1.1 billion in FY 2000. Over
the two-year funding life of the proposal, 88 percent of the monies,
roughly $1.383 billion, will go for Colombia specific programs while
the remaining 12 percent, approximately $190 million, will support
projects in neighboring countries and the region. And, while
discussions of the proposal center on the security assistance it
provides, 21 percent of the monies funds projects to strengthen the
economy, assist farmers, promote human rights and generally support
other social programs. What's more, spending between enforcement and
social programs becomes even more balanced when the $7.5 billion Plan
Colombia is taken as a whole. This balanced and integrated approach is
the strength of the plan.

The Administration's proposed assistance package has five components:

1.  Push 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 which will move into southern Colombia to protect the
Colombian National Police (CNP) as they carry out their counter-drug
mission. The program includes 30 Blackhawk helicopters and 33 UH-1N
helicopters to enable the counternarcotics battalions to access this
remote and undeveloped region of Colombia. It will provide $16 million
in developmental assistance providing technical assistance and
agricultural inputs to the farmers of southern Colombia as well as $15
million to help those displaced by conflict in the region.

2.  Andean 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 component
includes funding $341 million for radar upgrades and to provide
narcotics intelligence to Colombian security forces. It will support
the 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.

3.  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 will upgrade existing aircraft, purchase additional
spray aircraft, and provide secure bases for increased operations in
the coca-growing centers. The CNP's ability to eradicate cultivation
deep in guerrilla territory and at high altitudes has been hindered by
security concerns and equipment needs. This funding, in conjunction
with the counternarcotics battalions, will enable the CNP to reach
into narcotics-growing areas previously beyond their reach.

4.  Economic Development:

This element, totaling $145 million, includes more than $45 million of
new funds to provide economic alternatives for small farmers in
Colombia who now grow coca and poppy plus another $30 million for
regional efforts. Also included are programs to build schools, roads
and clinics. Local governments will be strengthened through a $15
million program. There are also funds to support efforts to protect
fragile lands and watersheds. We anticipate that these seed monies
will encourage other donors to support the Colombian government's
robust agenda for alternative development, environmental protection,
education and health. We will actively encourage such support.

5.  Boosting Governing Capacity:

The final component totals $93 million and includes a number of
programs to increase the protection of human rights by supporting
NGOs, creating human rights units in the CNP and the prosecutor's
office, and offering protection to human rights workers. It contains
more than $20 million in programs to reform the legal system and train
judges, prosecutors, and public defenders. It also will enhance
Colombian abilities to attack financial crimes and kidnapping.


Colombia faces complex and daunting problems. Collectively, we may
find it convenient to think of Colombia in terms of the narcotics
crisis. In truth, that is only one element and it is linked, in a
fundamental way, to the equally complex issues of economics, society,
and an ineffective government presence in large areas of the country.
At this moment, Colombia is a partner who shares our counternarcotics
concerns and possesses the will to execute needed reforms and
operations. Our challenge, as a neighbor to the north and a partner,
is to identify ways in which we can assist Colombia in resolving its
narcotics-related and other problems. I look forward to working
closely with Congress as we continue to address these critical issues.