Pubdate: Sun, 28 Nov 2004
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2004 Los Angeles Times
Author: Jess Hunter
Bookmark: (Colombia)


Re "U.S. Deficit Follows Bush on Trip" and "Bush's Colombian
Connection," editorial, Nov. 23: Writer Peter Wallsten fails to
mention an aggravating factor in President Bush's call for continued
multibillion-dollar funding for Colombia as he commits to cut the
budget deficit; this U.S. investment has produced little of its
promised return, despite The Times editorial's claims to the contrary.

Nearly 4,000 civilians were murdered last year, down slightly from
2002 but up a dramatic 34% since 1999, despite U.S. security
assistance. The central policy goal in the region, stemming the
availability of drugs on U.S. streets, has been a complete failure.
Although figures indicate a modest 7% reduction in coca production
since 1999, according to U.S. drug czar John Walters, "We have not yet
seen in all these efforts what we're hoping for on the supply side,
which is a reduction in availability."

The Department of Justice reported that cocaine availability actually
increased last year. This situation has alarmed taxpayer watchdog
groups such as the National Taxpayers Union and Taxpayers for Common
Sense Action, as well as some members of Congress, who have joined
human rights advocates in calling for policy change.

Congress must come to its senses and shift money from the drug war in
Colombia to domestic initiatives.

Jess Hunter

Senior Associate

U.S. Office on Colombia, Washington
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