February 22, 2000
The Honorable Barry
All of us in the Office of National Drug Control Policy appreciate the concern demonstrated over the years by the Committee as to the threat to U.S. national security posed by drug trafficking in Colombia and the Andean Region. The recent explosion of coca production in Colombia, and the enormous economic resources that have become available to terrorist organizations associated with organized crime in Colombia, have increased the seriousness of the threat and extended it beyond Colombia into the other countries in the Andean region. Chairman Grassley, Senator Biden, Senator Moynihan, distinguished members of the Committee, we thank you for the opportunity to testify today about the drug trafficking situation in Colombia and the Andean Region, and the administration’s proposed support package to address that situation. We welcome this opportunity to review the comprehensive initiatives that are being conducted in support of Goal 5 of the National Drug Control Strategy: Break foreign and domestic drug sources of supply.
Cocaine Production is Declining
The final 1999 coca cultivation and potential cocaine production estimates for the Andean Region released by the CIA’s Crime and Narcotics Center show progress in attacking the cocaine trade. Overall Andean net coca cultivation declined to 180,000 hectares in 1999, 4 percent less than the 1998 figure, and 15 percent less than in 1995. Potential global cocaine production fell to 765 metric tons, a drop of 7 percent from the 1998 figure, and an 18 percent drop since 1995.
Although the overall coca cultivation trends are positive, this data confirms that there has been a major shift of coca cultivation from Peru and Bolivia to guerrilla-controlled territory in Colombia. The new data illustrates the urgency for Congressional action in support of the administration’s $1.6 billion aid package to Colombia. The rapid expansion of drug production in Colombia, almost entirely in zones dominated by illegal armed groups constitutes an emergency. Without U.S. assistance substantially along the lines proposed by President Clinton, Colombia will not be equipped to implement its plan to end impunity for drug traffickers in areas currently beyond governmental influence. Neither will it likely be able to bring an end to the violence and human rights violations perpetrated by the drug-funded warlords who rule those areas. Drug production for the US market would continue unimpeded and could outstrip supply reductions achieved elsewhere in the Andean region.
ANDEAN POTENTIAL COCAINE
President Pastrana and his reform-minded government took office in August 1998. He has faced multiple challenges from the outset of his administration. These ongoing multiple and inter-related crises in Colombia threaten many US national interests. Among these interests are: stemming the flow of cocaine and heroin into the US, support for democratic government and rule of law, respect for human rights, promoting efforts to reach a negotiated settlement to Colombia’s long-running internal conflict, maintaining regional stability, and promoting legitimate trade and investment. Without substantial financial, technical, and political support from the United States, these inter-related crises will not only negatively affect our nation, but threaten to undermine democracy and stability in Colombia and the region in the near term.
Rapidly expanding cocaine and heroin production in Colombia constitute a threat to US national security and the well-being of our citizens. Ninety percent of the cocaine entering the United States originates in or passes through Colombia. The annual cultivation of opium poppies in Colombia has expanded from almost nothing in 1990 to over 6,000 hectares now, producing enough high purity heroin to meet over half of the U.S. demand.
Over the last decade, drug production in Colombia has increased dramatically. In spite of an aggressive aerial eradication campaign, Colombian cultivation of coca, the raw material for cocaine, has more than tripled since 1992. New information about the potency of Colombian coca, the time required for crops to reach maturity, and efficiency in the cocaine conversion process has led to a revision of the estimates of Colombia’s 1998 potential cocaine production from 165 metric tons to 435 metric tons.
The newly released 1999 figures indicate that both the number of hectares of coca under cultivation in Colombia and the amount of cocaine produced from those crops continue to skyrocket. Colombian coca cultivation rose 20 percent to 122,500 hectares in 1999; there was a corresponding 20 percent increase in potential cocaine production to 520 metric tons. Left unchecked, these massive increases in drug production and trafficking in Colombia will reverse gains achieved over the last four years in Peru and Bolivia, and continued expansion of drug production in Colombia will likely result in more drugs being shipped to the United States.
US National Interests Are Threatened by the
Crisis in Colombia
The problems in Colombia affect the lives of Americans at home and abroad. Illegal drugs cost our society 52,000 dead and nearly $110 billion dollars each year due to health costs, accidents, and lost productivity. The US has been successful in reducing the number of cocaine users by over seventy percent since its peak in 1985. If left unchecked, the rapid expansion of drug production in Colombia threatens to significantly increase the global supply of cocaine and heroin. Without effective supply reduction programs, cheap and easily-obtainable drugs can undercut the effectiveness of our successful demand reduction programs and increase the drug threat to our communities. In Colombia, narco-funded terrorists kidnap and murder US citizens, and attack and extort US companies doing business there.
Changes in Drug Trafficking
In large part due to successful counterdrug programs in Peru and Bolivia, the drug production problem in the Andean Region has changed dramatically over the last decade. Until recently, most coca was grown in Peru and Bolivia, and coca base was shipped to Colombia for processing and distribution. Aggressive drug crop eradication, interdiction operations, and a broad array of law enforcement programs, in combination with alternative economic development programs in Peru and Bolivia have reduced coca cultivation in those countries 66% and 55%, respectively, since 1995.
Unfortunately, the traffickers found favorable conditions to move production into Colombia, converting it into the world’s largest producer of coca. Domination of Colombia’s vast coca growing regions by guerrilla or paramilitary groups, another relatively recent phenomenon, has greatly handicapped Colombian President Pastrana’s ability to reduce drug production or enforce Colombian national law. These new circumstances require a change in strategy, policy, and resources if we intend to protect our nation from becoming the target of dramatically increased amounts of cocaine and heroin and avert possible increases in drug addiction, violence and crime. It is in the interest of both the United States and Colombia to curb the Colombian drug trade and increase prospects for peace and stability in Colombia and the Andean region as a whole.
The immense amounts of money generated by the drug trade are also fueling violence, lawlessness, and Colombia’s long internal conflict. Colombia lacks the resources to dislodge the organized terrorists and private armies that provide a safe haven for a drug-based economy. These illegal armed groups have a dominant presence in about half of Colombia’s national territory and are the overwhelming source of the human rights violations committed in Colombia. High levels of violence, insecurity, and attacks on infrastructure are displacing large numbers of rural inhabitants and discouraging both Colombian and foreign investment, exacerbating Colombia’s worst economic recession since the 1930s. Narco-financing of the guerrilla groups has produced a paradoxical situation in which the guerrillas are militarily strong and politically weak. All of these factors are undermining the Colombian government’s good faith efforts to negotiate peace and bring an end to the decades of violence.
The Economic Context of Colombia’s
The Colombian economy is in its first recession in 25 years, and the deepest recession of the last 70 years. Real gross domestic product is estimated to have fallen by 3.5 percent in 1999, the result of external shocks, fiscal imbalances, and a further weakening of confidence related to stepped up activity by insurgent groups. Unemployment has rocketed from under 9 percent in 1995 to about 20 percent in 1999, adding to the pool of unemployed workers who can be drawn into the narcotics trade or into insurgent or paramilitary groups. The deep recession has also sapped the Colombian government of resources to address societal and political pressures, fight the narcotics trade, or address systemic security requirements.
Drug trafficking issues often overshadow the importance of US-Colombian economic ties. Nevertheless, Colombia is an important regional trading partner. Two-way trade in 1998 reached nearly $11 billion. Fresh cut flowers imported from Colombia account for two-thirds of the flowers sold in the United States, and the Colombian flower industry directly and indirectly provides in excess of 200,000 jobs in the US. Other Colombian imports to the US include coffee, fruit, oil, and leather goods. US products sold in Colombia include telecommunications and computer equipment, energy components, and auto parts. The US is the number one foreign investor in Colombia, accounting for 28 percent of accumulated foreign direct investment in 1998 (not including petroleum).
Colombia is the eighth largest supplier of foreign crude oil to the United States, with more than 330,000 barrels per day shipped primarily to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas and Louisiana. In 1999, oil was Colombia’s largest export, accounting for approximately 31 percent of the country’s total exports and 24 percent of the central government’s income. Not surprisingly, the guerrilla groups routinely attack the government-owned oil pipelines, 79 times in 1999 alone. These terrorist acts deprive the Colombian government of its principal source of foreign exchange, undermine the national economy, take away vital resources that could be used to provide security and basic government services to the Colombian people, and cause massive environmental damage. From a regional perspective, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela together provide more than 20% of the US’s oil imports. This statistic cannot be overlooked as we assess the importance of maintaining stability in the region, especially given the rising price of oil on the world market and the volatility of the Middle East.
Plan Colombia – The Colombian
The Pastrana Government authored an integrated strategy, “Plan Colombia,” that recognizes that solving Colombia’s inter-related problems will require significant action on a variety of fronts. The plan articulates a set of far-reaching, interlocking policies designed to promote peace, strengthen democracy, combat drug trafficking, improve the human rights climate, and revive the economy. The Government of Colombia estimates that implementing Plan Colombia will cost about $7.5 billion over the next three years, and Colombia has committed to spending $4 billion of its own resources and international financial institution loans to execute the plan. The Pastrana Government is asking the international community to provide the remaining $3.5 billion in bilateral foreign assistance. The Administration proposal is responsive to the requirements identified in Plan Colombia.
President Pastrana’s plan focuses on
five strategic issues:
These five planks respond comprehensively to Colombia’s most severe problems. At the core is the need to strengthen the democratic institutions and their ability to rule. Repairing the economy will make it easier for the Colombian people to provide for themselves and will decrease the lure of the drug trade and other illicit activity. Combating the drug trade will reduce corruption, allow for legitimate economic development, remove the principal source of economic support from the illegal armed groups who create havoc within Colombian society, and make the negotiating table a more attractive setting than the battlefield for resolving their problems. Decreasing the scale of the internal conflict will facilitate the reform of the justice system and lead to improvement in the human rights situation. Illegal armed groups will no longer be in a position to control and abuse the Colombian people, and the GOC will be able to focus on reforms within the government rather than reacting to terrorist actions. True democratization and social development will bring better governance to the Colombian people.
President Pastrana has also placed his personal prestige behind the decision made by Colombia’s military leadership to improve the military’s human rights performance, end collusion with right-wing violence, and punish those who violate these new policies. Colombia’s human rights problems do not stem from an oppressive state and out of control security forces. Rather, the vast majority of human rights violations in Colombia are committed by illegal armed groups – paramilitaries, guerrillas, and common criminals – who are able to operate because of the weakness and/or absence of the state in the remote, outlying areas of the country. Plan Colombia address the systemic shortcomings to ensure that the military, police, and judicial system personnel throughout Colombia have the training, equipment, and governmental support they need to implement the rule of law and protect the Colombian people.
Under current leadership, the Colombian military is undergoing a cultural transformation which, if sustained, bodes well for Colombia. Defense Minister Ramirez and Armed Forces Commander Tapias have taken dramatic steps to deal with the legacy of human rights abuses and impunity that have clouded our bilateral relations in the past. The forced retirements of Generals Millan and del Rio because of ties to illegal paramilitary organizations and the arrests of General Uscategui and Lt. Col. Sanchez Oviedo for alleged involvement in the 1997 Mapiripan massacre conducted by paramilitaries are particularly significant. The US State Department’s annual human rights report has also documented a steadily declining number of reported human rights violations by the Colombian military. Clearly, these are only steps toward a solution. Still, these good faith efforts demonstrate the will to address the remaining human rights problems in the Colombian military and to resolve the difficult challenges facing Colombia.
The Assistance Package and the US National Drug Control Strategy
The administration’s proposed Colombia/Andean Region support
package is perfectly in line with our National Drug Control Strategy
– a strategy that represents a comprehensive approach focusing
on: educating children about the dangers of drug use, decreasing the
addict population, breaking the cycle of drugs and crime, securing
our borders, and reducing the supply of drugs. Our effort to support
Plan Colombia directly supports goal five of the National Strategy:
Break foreign and domestic drug sources of supply. Funds used for
overseas supply reduction still represent a small percentage of our
entire National Drug Control budget. For example, including the
administration’s Colombia/Andean Region counterdrug assistance
proposal, USG funding in Fiscal Year 2000 by counter-drug activity
would break down as follows:
Staying the Course in Bolivia and
Also critical to US national interests is enhancement of counterdrug support to the surrounding nations, especially Peru and Bolivia, to ensure that the drug producers and traffickers can not respond to increased counterdrug efforts in Colombia simply by moving their operations to other countries. The current governments of Peru and Bolivia have shown impressive political will to attack drug trafficking in their nations within the framework of democracy and respect for human rights. If we are to help implement a plan that will cripple large-scale cocaine production in the Andes, we must continue to support Bolivia and Peru.
The Administration Proposal
The administration developed a proposal for a two-year assistance package to help implement Plan Colombia and bolster our counterdrug support to other nations in the region. The proposal suggests a $954 million Fiscal Year 2000 supplemental appropriations package and a supporting $318 million increase in the Fiscal Year 2001 budget. The proposed assistance is a balanced, comprehensive package supporting counterdrug activities, alternative economic development, rule of law, human rights, good governance, and the resettlement of internally displaced persons.
The specific package of equipment, training, and technical assistance for Colombia and the Andean Region that the Administration proposal includes was carefully developed over six months. An Administration working group consisting of government experts from State, Defense/SouthCom, ONDCP, CIA, Justice, Treasury, USAID, Customs, and other agencies consulted with our Embassy Country Teams, and with Colombian government, police and military officials to ensure that the assistance would, a) give the GOC the necessary tools to implement its own Plan Colombia; b) work together as an integrated package; c) provide sufficient training and spare parts to ensure that all assistance provided could be effectively absorbed and deployed by host nation authorities; and d) buttress the successful coca reduction programs in Peru and Bolivia . We believe that the package, as presented, represents a carefully calibrated combination of initiatives, which, when deployed, will make a real, concrete difference in Colombian and regional counterdrug efforts.
The proposed package is based on inter-linked initiatives: Counterdrug equipment, training, and technical assistance to help the Colombian police and military to establish government control of the vast coca growing regions in southern Colombia;
Major increases in Colombian alternative economic development
programs, including new job generation, to wean small farmers and
migrant workers off cultivating drug crops;
Extending the Rule of Law in
The Colombian National Police (CNP) will continue to be the primary responsible agency for drug law enforcement operations including eradication, lab destruction, chemical and drug shipment interdiction, and dismantling trafficking organizations. The CNP’s crop control efforts are currently severely limited by the danger posed to eradication aircraft and personnel by the efforts of the guerrillas and paramilitary forces to protect the main source of their income. Military support will be required to provide a sufficient level of security for the CNP to perform their law enforcement mission. The proposed assistance package would enable the Colombian Army to operate jointly with the CNP as they move into the dangerous drug production sanctuaries in southern Colombian by providing funds to stand up two additional Army Counter-narcotics Battalions. The first Army Counter-narcotics Battalion, which was trained and equipped by the US, was brought on line in late 1999. The proposed assistance package will also provide resources to increase intelligence for the Colombian Joint Task Force – South, based at Tres Esquinas, which includes fully-vetted participants from all the military services and the Colombian National Police.
Colombia’s current drug producing sanctuaries exist in large part because the illegal armed groups take advantage of Colombia’s rugged geography, lack of basic infrastructure, and poor road network. To be effective, the Counter-narcotics Battalions must have sufficient air mobility to operate in the vast coca-growing areas. As a result, the largest single component in the proposed package involves providing the Counter-narcotics Battalions with adequate lift capability – 30 UH-60 (BlackHawk) and 15 UH-1N helicopters; 18 UH-1N helicopters were delivered to Colombia in November 1999 for this purpose.
Additional Support for the Colombian
The package also includes substantial additional support for the Colombian National Police, including procuring additional spray aircraft; upgrading existing helicopters and planes; providing training, equipment, secure communications; building new bases and enhancing security at existing bases. The $95 million proposed in this assistance package for the CNP is in addition to the approximately $221 million the CNP received from the FY 1999 State/INL base funding and the counterdrug emergency supplemental package, the approximately $76 million FY 2000 INL base funding, and the $60 million request for FY 2001 in INL base funding. If Congress passes these funding requests, the three-year total for the CNP (1999-2001) would be $452 million, which we believe would provide the CNP with a robust capability to carry out their counterdrug law enforcement responsibilities.
The proposed assistance also includes resources to enhance both the Colombian and US governments’ ability to collect, analyze, and disseminate the intelligence necessary to support all aspects of operational planning and execution. Though much progress has been made over the past five years, we need to continue to build the top quality intelligence support that is critical to effective implementation at both the strategic and operational levels. A portion of the funding goes toward improving the Colombian government’s ability to field effective intelligence programs in support of both police and military operations. Other funds will be applied to US programs that support both Colombian and US government efforts, including those being carried out by US law enforcement agencies.
U.S. ability to collect and disseminate counter-drug intelligence to Colombia and other foreign allies will improve with the implementation of the President’s General Counterdrug Intelligence Plan (GCIP), released February 14. The GCIP addresses seven issue areas and advances 12 action items related to information sharing with foreign governments. The plan calls for a single Senior Narcotics and Law Enforcement Coordinator in each U.S. overseas mission, whose responsibility it is to assure that all the collecting agencies at a post coordinate their efforts. In addition, the Counter-Drug Intelligence Coordinating Group under the direction of the GCIP in Washington will coordinate the development of a comprehensive interagency system, governed by policy direction, to facilitate the secure and timely sharing of intelligence and information with allies and overseas counterdrug partner nations. The system will be designed to control sensitive sources and methods and release precisely the information needed in a timely and flexible manner.
Improving Interdiction Capabilities
In addition to crop control efforts, the Government of Colombia needs to wage a vigorous drug interdiction effort. The assessment of US and Colombian analysts is that the air transportation node that services Colombian cocaine labs and growing areas is vulnerable to interdiction. The goal is to cause a major disruption of the traffickers’ ability to move their product. A successful interdiction campaign, similar to the Peruvian air bridge denial effort, is required. The $92 million for Colombian air interdiction programs contemplated in the package would establish Colombia’s ability to interdict drug air transit in southern Colombia, and improve upon existing capability in northern Colombia through aircraft upgrades, additional ground-based radars, and improvement of existing air bases near the drug-producing regions. The package also includes $68 million to fund radar upgrades to four US Customs Airborne Early Warning Radar equipped P-3 aircraft for increased detection and monitoring missions in Colombia.
More than $30 million in additional funding would also be provided to improve riverine, maritime, and overland interdiction efforts to prevent the traffickers from finding alternative transportation routes or methods.
Promoting and Protecting Human
In accordance with US law and policy, all assistance to the Colombian police and armed forces is contingent upon human rights screening. No USG assistance is being provided to any unit of the Colombian police or military for which there is credible evidence of gross human rights violations by its members. None will be provided to such units, unless, as required by US law, the Secretary of State determines that the GOC is taking steps to bring those responsible for gross human rights violations to justice. The Colombian military has markedly improved its human rights performance in recent years. Unfortunately, at the same time, the number of abuses committed by the guerrillas and, particularly, by the paramilitaries has also increased. We have urged the GOC to take effective steps to end abuses and impunity within its security forces. We welcomed President Pastrana’s decisions in 1999 to retire four generals linked to paramilitary groups, as mentioned above, and statements by President Pastrana and top military officials that they would not tolerate collaboration with the paramilitaries. It is important to acknowledge that the Colombian military has one of the longest unbroken records of support for democracy and civilian government in the hemisphere.
Bolstering Government Capacity and
The Government of Colombia will need to provide improved local government services and licit economic alternatives to the illegal drug trade in order to consolidate its authority in the drug-producing regions and to ameliorate the effects on the population of increased counterdrug efforts. The proposed assistance package contains a major increase in US support for Colombian alternative development programs and funds to improve the delivery of municipal government services in the affected areas.
If the funding is approved, we would be committing $270 million over the next two years to alternative development, enhancing good governance, judicial reform, and human rights protection. This is in addition to some $4 billion that the GOC is committing to Plan Colombia from its own resources, including loans obtained from the International Financial Institutions, which would be aimed primarily at social, humanitarian, and infrastructure development, as well as economic revitalization.
The expanded alternative development programs proposed in this package would accelerate the damage done to the coca business while avoiding violent confrontations with a displaced coca labor force. Alternative development programs have been a key factor in recent, record-level reductions in coca cultivation in Peru and Bolivia, once the major producers of coca. Coca leaf prices rose in Peru in 1999 after many years of steady decline. It is imperative to expand our efforts to provide licit economic opportunities in all three of the coca source countries to prevent farmers and laborers from returning to coca production.
The eradication of coca crops will hurt the illicit economy, and will force some people to move to find employment. The proposed assistance package supports the positioning of international organizations such as the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration, as well as Colombian non-governmental organizations to deal with the estimated 10,000 migrant coca plantation workers that will be displaced by the eradication campaign. Displaced persons will receive a 90-day emergency benefits package, followed by a “Contingency Plan” sponsored by PLANTE (Colombia’s alternative development agency) covering the time of return until the onset of a viable alternative development program. To address any increase in social unrest or violence that may arise in response to the eradication effort, USAID will provide support to the human rights delegates of Colombia’s National Ombudsman’s office to circulate where possible in Putumayo and Caqueta.
In order to foster the recovery of municipalities once illicit production has been destroyed, USAID will provide simple grants for public infrastructure. To obtain a grant, the municipal government must meet criteria for transparency in financial management and active participation in alternative development. USAID will also establish Casas de Justicia (Houses of Justice) in conflictive areas of Putumayo and Caqueta as security permits. Finally, for those small farmers who do not leave the region (estimated 4,000), USAID will assist the GOC to implement an alternative development program of licit crop substitution, improved local governance, and environmental management similar to the program initiated in the rest of Colombia.
Strengthening Colombia’s Judicial
Colombia’s ability to enforce drug control laws is weakened by poorly functioning courts, untrained or inexperienced judges and prosecutors, threats and corruption. The Government of Colombia requires assistance in strengthening its criminal justice capacity – law enforcement, the police and prosecutor investigative capabilities, increased prison security – to build long-term counterdrug capability, enhance the rule of law, and increase public confidence in the justice system. The proposed package contains a significant administration of justice element to address these challenges.
The $88 million for justice-related programs illustrates that the USG is committed to a comprehensive solution to the problems in Colombia and to protecting human rights and the rule of law. Many of these dramatic and inter-related challenges to the rule of law that Colombia faces stem from the culture of violence bred by a long-standing insurgency and weak governing institutions in the interior of Colombia. The growing narcotics trade has spawned additional violence and corruption. US assistance to the program includes increased training for the police, prosecutors and judges in areas of human rights, narcotics, maritime and border security, corruption, kidnapping, and money laundering/asset forfeiture cases. Funds will also be used for security protections for witnesses, judges, and prosecutors in the criminal justice system, as well as assistance in prison design and administration. Additionally, US support for Plan Colombia will provide for procedural and legislative reforms to ensure that the system functions fairly and effectively, with particular emphasis on the transition to an accusatory system, including oral trials. There must also be close coordination between civilian and military justice systems to ensure that any member of the armed forces implicated in human rights abuses is properly investigated and held accountable for crimes.
Other proposed initiatives relating to increasing Government of Colombia governing capacity are a substantial increase in US assistance to international organizations and Colombian non-governmental organizations helping Colombians displaced by the internal conflict, as well as funding for programs designed to protect human rights workers, strengthen Colombian government and non-governmental human rights entities, and establish and train specialized units in the National Police and Prosecutor General’s Office to handle human rights cases.
The remaining Colombia-specific programs in the proposed package are designed to address the inter-related issues that exacerbate or facilitate the drug trade in Colombia. The Government of Colombia needs to create better conditions for a successful peace process, and greater domestic and foreign investment. The US would provide technical assistance to initiatives relating to economic recovery. We would also provide some training opportunities for Government of Colombia negotiators and policy advisors to facilitate progress in the peace process. We believe that to the extent that Plan Colombia reinvigorates the Colombian economy, enhances GOC governing capability, discourages human rights abuses, and reduces the money available to guerrillas and paramilitaries from involvement in drug trafficking, it will encourage the peace process.
The Requirement for Broad International
The USG is seeking to ensure that other donor nations that are part of the global cocaine consumption market assist Colombia to move forward with Plan Colombia. With our strong support, the International Monetary Fund has approved a $2.7 billion program for Colombia. In addition, we are supporting the Colombian Government’s request for more than $3 billion in loans from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Efforts to build support among potential bilateral donors in Europe and Asia are underway.
Regional Support Elements of the
In order to maximize the effectiveness of increased counterdrug efforts in Colombia, we must reinforce counterdrug efforts in the surrounding countries to capitalize on successful programs there and to prevent the traffickers from simply moving their operations to avoid law enforcement. Successful execution of source zone interdiction programs is dependent upon US interagency detection and monitoring and intelligence support. The proposed package would provide $38.6 million to establish Forward Operating Locations in the region to enable the US to continue its robust regional interdiction initiatives now that the bases in Panama have closed.
The proposal also includes $46 million for programs that would adapt air, land, and riverine interdiction efforts in Peru and Bolivia to changes in trafficker routes and methods, and would provide modest funding to support increased interdiction challenges in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Brazil. Increased effectiveness of interdiction programs will depress trafficker demand for coca leaf and base and reduce coca farm-gate prices, which will, in turn, increase the allure and effectiveness of alternative development programs. The proposed package includes an additional $30 million above the baseline funding for alternative development programs in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador to handle the increase in demand for licit alternatives to coca production.
The Andean Region assistance package has been crafted in response to the need for a strategy to eliminate coca production in the Andes where it is most prevalent, and prevent its return to Peru and Bolivia where so many coca growers have moved away from the drug trade into licit activities. The proposed assistance package will be effective only if it is implemented as a whole and is kept in place for the long term. It offers the best hope for decisive, permanent action against the flow of illegal drugs in the United States, and in favor of democracy, peace, stability, and respect for human rights in our hemisphere.
Now is the time for a major effort to support the counterdrug efforts of the governments in the Andean Region. There is strong political will in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia to attack the drug trade, root out corruption, end violence, and establish peace and security within the framework of democracy and respect for human rights. There is also strong will in the governments of Ecuador, Venezuela, and Brazil to ensure that successful counterdrug efforts in the current drug source countries do not displace the drug trade into their nations.
While Colombia has become the center of illegal drug production in our hemisphere, the commitment of the Government of Colombia to attacking drug production and trafficking is indisputable. The Government of Colombia is now conducting a robust counterdrug effort including eradication of drug crops; lab destruction; alternative development; attacking drug mafias; and air, maritime, riverine, and land interdiction operations to seize and destroy drugs and chemicals. President Pastrana recently resumed extradition of Colombian nationals. As a result of the very successful Operation Millennium and other cooperative law enforcement actions against drug criminal organizations, extradition proceedings are underway for forty-one more drug traffickers wanted for crimes in the United States. The traffickers have already responded with bombs and threats.
Hundreds of Colombian police and military personnel, judges, prosecutors, government officials, and innocent civilians have lost their lives as a result of drug trafficking and the violence it generates. Just as we share with Colombia the threat to national security and social well-being posed by illegal drugs, we share the responsibility to act against them. It is imperative that the United States Government do its fair share to fight drug production and trafficking in Colombia and the region, and support our democratic allies.
The Administration looks forward to working closely with Congress to develop a package that will stem the tide of drugs flowing into the United States from the Andean Region while providing the necessary funding to help Colombia confront its current problems.