Colombia welcomes U.S. help with drugs
U.S. drug czar in Bogota to tackle problem
July 27, 1999
Web posted at: 7:29 p.m. EDT (2329 GMT)
By Correspondent Lucia Newman
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey
arrived in Colombia under tight security Tuesday to tackle
what he calls a drug emergency in the Andes.
"Eighty percent of the drugs that destroy 52,000 Americans a
year and cause $110 billion (in) damages originate from Colombia or transit through it," McCaffrey said. "Coca production has doubled in the last three years."
McCaffrey's visit comes at a difficult time. A U.S.
military drug reconnaissance plane crashed Friday in one
of the major cocaine producing areas of Colombia, a section
controlled by leftist guerrillas.
It is becoming increasingly more difficult to distinguish between drug traffickers and guerrillas, McCaffrey said. He pledged Washington's logistical and intelligence support, but
stopped short of offering troops.
Colombian President Andres Pastrana insisted that it is not
his nation, but rather the world, that is losing the drug war.
"Do you think that we could end the largest business in the
world, a $500 billion business, with (resources of only) $285 million in the next four years?" he asked.
Pastrana said those limited resources will ultimately yield
"It's impossible. We need at least 10 to 15 years and at least $15 (billion) to $20 billion," he said.
While Washington wants to intensify drug interdiction as well as the eradication of coca and poppies, Colombia says it needs more: cooperation by the United States and Europe to finance alternative development and crop substitutions in the drug production areas.
But the timing could not be worse.
The United States and the European Union are spending millions in Central America to help the victims of Hurricane Mitch, and other funds have been earmarked to help rebuild Kosovo.
Those large financial commitments leave little remaining for
Colombia's ambitious -- but expensive -- plan to finally win the drug war.
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Presidency of Colombia
Colombia General Information
CIA World Factbook 1998
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