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Influential House Armed Services Chair Calls for Rethinking "Plan Colombia," Bush Moves to Export "Plan Colombia" to Afghanistan

For Immediate Release: March 22, 2007 For More Info: Bill Piper, (202)669-6430 Influential House Armed Services Chair Calls for Rethinking “Plan Colombia,” Tide against Latin American Drug War Grows Misguided War on Drugs Undermining War on Terror as President Bush Moves to Export “Plan Colombia” to Afghanistan Nation’s Leading Organization Opposed to War on Drugs Calls for Alternative, More Effective Strategies A top U.S. lawmaker urged the Bush administration yesterday to rethink U.S. financial support for Colombia's fight against drug trafficking, which he said has yielded few dividends. “We have spent over four billion dollars since 1999 to stem the flow of illegal drugs into our country and aid the Colombians in their fight against home-grown terrorists,” said Representative Ike Skelton (D-MO), chair of the House Armed Services Committee. ”But, according to the latest figures from the Justice Department, the supply and purity of illicit narcotics on our streets has not changed much in the last several years,” the Democratic lawmaker said during a hearing of top U.S. military commanders from around the globe. In 2005, 169 Democrats and 19 Republicans voted to cut funding to the Andean Counterdrug Initiative (more commonly known as “Plan Colombia”). The House could vote on the issue again later this year. A growing number of Latin America experts, elected officials and environmental groups support cutting U.S. funding to the drug war in Latin America because it has failed to reduce the availability of drugs, is destabilizing Latin America, hurting poor families, and driving drug traffickers deeper into the rainforest, destroying one of the world’s most delicate ecosystems. Even as evidence mounts that the U.S.-led drug war in Latin America is doing more harm than good, the Bush Administration is seeking to escalate the drug war in Afghanistan, importing the same policies that backfired in Latin America: forced eradication of farmer’s crops, fumigation, and heavy-handed military tactics. A report by the United Nations and World Bank last year concluded that the Bush’s Administration’s drug strategy in Afghanistan is driving poor people into the hands of the Taliban, destabilizing the Afghan government, and increasing the power of the country’s crime syndicates. Last year Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO), who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested licensing Afghan farmers to grow opium for legal pain medication. That proposal, and other alternatives to the Bush strategy, is gaining support around the world, most notably Canada and the United Kingdom. “The U.S. exported its punitive drug policies to Latin America and devastated the region, now the Bush Administration wants to export this failure to Afghanistan,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Only the stakes are much higher in Afghanistan. If policymakers allow the war on drugs to undermine the war on terror, the cost could be huge in terms of lost American lives,” Piper said.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Dutch Court Rules That Fisherman Can Write Off Smuggled Drugs

Location: 
The Hague
Netherlands
Publication/Source: 
Fox News
URL: 
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,261633,00.html

Colombia changes tactics in war against drugs, guerrillas

Location: 
Bogota
Colombia
Publication/Source: 
The Telegraph (GA)
URL: 
http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/world/16975013.htm

Faulty Anti Drug Results in Peru

Location: 
Lima
Peru
Publication/Source: 
Prensa Latina (Cuba)
URL: 
http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp?ID=%7B1D05C048-655B-46B6-AB59-0022B20C3C66%7D)&language=EN

America's Forgotten War?

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Washington Post
URL: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/23/AR2007032300590.html

Reuters Summit-US puts off decision on Bolivia's drugs work

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
Reuters AlertNet
URL: 
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N21320382.htm

Europe: Clamor for Licit Medicinal Afghan Opium Grows Among British MPs

Dozens of members of the British Parliament (MPs) are calling on Prime Minister Tony Blair to allow Afghan farmers to head off what they call a world shortage of opiate pain relievers. Some 40 MPs, including senior Conservative opposition leaders Michael Ancram, Bill Cash and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, are urging Blair to support a UN-led pilot program to allow the cultivation of Afghan poppies for the medicinal market.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/opium-smaller.jpg
the opium trader's wares (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith during September 2005 visit to Afghanistan)
Afghanistan is the world's dominant opium producer, accounting for more than 90% of the global harvest last year. This year's crop is expected to grow even larger. The Afghan government and its NATO and US backers are attempting to suppress the crop, but doing so threatens to undermine the broader counterinsurgency effort against the resurgent Taliban.

The call from MPs came in a parliamentary motion last week. The motion followed by two weeks the revelation that the British Foreign Office had considered such a proposal, but gave up in the face of implacable opposition from the American and Afghan governments. Under the NATO-US agreement, Britain is charged with responsibility for the fight against opium, but despite spending more than $400 million in the past four years, both the poppy crop and the Taliban have instead expanded.

The call from the British MPs is only the latest to echo a 2005 proposal from the European defense and drug policy think thank the Senlis Council, which called for the diversion of illicit opium production destined to be turned into heroin for the black market into licit medicinal markets, especially in the poorer countries of the South. While not embraced by any government except Italy, the clamor for this radical idea continues to grow.

27kg of opium in a kitchen - just another day in the Afghan war on drugs

Location: 
Kabul
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
Guardian Unlimited (UK)
URL: 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,,2039236,00.html

Cocaine, violence persist in Colombia

Location: 
Soacha
Colombia
Publication/Source: 
Sun-Sentinel (FL)
URL: 
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/caribbean/sfl-hcolcocainemar20,0,4583305.story?coll=sfla-news-caribbean

The Shifting Weight of US Funding in Bolivia

Location: 
Bolivia
Publication/Source: 
AIN (Bolivia)
URL: 
http://ain-bolivia.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=77&Itemid=32

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