Pubdate: Tue, 17 Aug 1999
Date: 08/17/1999
Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)
Author: Paul Wolf
Related:  Additional articles on Latin America are available at

Regarding "Drugs pulling United States into Colombia's war" (July 27),
it is unfair to blame Colombia for the supply of cocaine and heroin in
the US.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in 1998,
130,000 acres of coca were grown in Peru, 97,000 acres in Bolivia, and
200,000 acres in Colombia.  But the US in 1999 gave $289 million in
military aid to Colombia, while giving only $17 million to Bolivia,
and $1 million in alternative development aid for Peru.

Almost all of the aid to Colombia was in the form of Black Hawk
helicopters and other heavy weapons.

The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that Colombia produces
only 1.5 percent of the world's opium poppies, which are used to make
heroin. Is this really an emergency? Drug czar Barry McCaffrey's
proposal to send Colombia another billion dollars to fight drugs
simply doesn't make sense.

Ronald Reagan first coined the term "narco-guerrilla" to justify US
support for the contras in Nicaragua. Later, in what became known as
the "Iran-contra affair," we heard that the US was supplying weapons
to the contras in exchange for cocaine.

We should not arm the Colombian military, which has proven to be one
of most brutal and corrupt organizations in the world.

Paul Wolf
Apex, N.C.