Tomado de:



Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Chairman, first I would like to thank the distinguished gentleman from Michigan (Mr. CONYERS) for his willingness to work together.

   This is a tough issue. Nobody wants to have children or families damaged by any type of chemical eradication or any other sort of method of destroying drugs. It is important that we understand that this is not Agent Orange. This herbicide, the only one that is used in aerial eradication, actually our government uses less than 10 percent of what is used in Colombia. The remaining 90 percent is predominantly used to spray coffee and also for other agricultural products such as soybeans. It is used for weed control in plantations of fruit trees and bananas. It is also used in areas for sugar cane.

   We do not not drink Colombian coffee, not use the fruit nor the soybeans nor the sugar cane from Colombia because it has been sprayed with these items, nor do the people in Colombia. Furthermore, the narco-people themselves use the same chemical to get rid of the weeds inside the poppy and the coca.

   We need to look at the best way possible to use this, but it is not that the herbicide is dangerous. Yes, lawsuits can back off companies from offering it, and say that there are potential problems in any chemical. But 90 percent of this is used in Colombia for food products and it is also used by the heroine coca growers themselves.

   There were also some comments made about alternative developments not being in many parts of Colombia. Alternative development is a very difficult issue. For example, in Bolivia where they do the hand eradication. Mr. Chairman, I have been down in Colombia at least five or six times and down in Peru multiple times and in Bolivia about four or five times. What we see in alternative development and in their eradication, they were able to do the hand eradication which is very expensive, but they were not getting shot at like in Colombia.

   If you had agricultural extension agents in America who had to carry an Uzi, we probably would not have as many people willing to be an agricultural extension agent. We have to get some semblance of law and order.

   It would be better if we can do hand eradication. It would be more expensive for us, more expensive for the Colombians, but first we have to have some sense of order on the ground or the people trying to do that manual eradication will be killed. They will be massacred.


[Time: 20:15]

   We have to look for ways to do this.

   Furthermore, I have met with different people representing all the regions of Colombia and in Peru and have seen projects, particularly in Bolivia and Peru, where alternative development is starting to work. This year's bill has $482 million for social, legal and alternative development projects. We have some in Plan Colombia.

   The funny thing about last year's bill is it takes a while to build a helicopter. The helicopters are just getting there. The aid is just getting there to Colombia. If we can get the order, hopefully the alternative development and the social development can continue, and then we can look at other ways to deal with eradication if we can get a little bit of order.

   One last story that I want to share, because it was a very unusual moment for me and several other Members. While we were waiting for Speaker HASTERT to come together with the rest of our delegation, we met a young man who had been with the FARC, and he had been collecting the dues from the agricultural growers. We asked him, just offhand, if he had ever killed anybody.

   He said, ``Yes.''

   We said, ``Why?''

   He said, ``Because the man was late in his payment.''

   We said, ``How did you kill him?''

   He said, ``I warned him twice. The man was late on his bill.''

   We said, ``But how would you do something like that?''

   He said, ``Well, I tried to collect it twice. Then he and his son were eating in town, and I went up behind him with a gun and shot him in the back of the head. But he deserved to die. He hadn't paid his money to us.''

   That is the type of battle that we are in in Colombia because of our drug habits in America. We need to work on drug treatment, prevention, but we also need to help these people whose country is being overrun. We need to do it in a way that is safe for children and families. Hopefully, we can work together to do that.

   Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word, and I yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY), hoping that he will reserve a little time for me so I can respond to the gentleman from Michigan.

   Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it very much. I will only take 1 minute.

   I want to illustrate something. What is this? That is the sound of one hand clapping. The only point the gentleman from Michigan is trying to make is that eradicating coca without giving farmers something else to do is not very effective. It produces the same results as one hand clapping.

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   All he is trying to suggest, I believe, is that if you want to continue the spraying, at least deliver the aid that we said would be delivered in a simultaneous fashion. Because if you do not you guarantee the failure of the program.

   I thank the gentleman for yielding.

   Mr. KOLBE. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman, I think most of the points that need to be made about the eradication, the fumigation, the spraying program in Colombia have been made. There is only one that I would like to make before responding directly to the question or the comments that were made by the gentleman from Michigan, and that is that we have seen over and over again that unless we have this, I do not like to use the word hammer, but unless we have this leverage of this fumigation program, we have found that farmers do not sign up for the alternative development programs.

   I was down there. Time and again we found this to be the case. Once you were serious and showed that you were ready, prepared to fumigate, then the farmers were ready to sign up for the alternative economic development. Without that, you really do not have much leverage to get them involved in the program. I think there is a good reason why we really need to have the fumigation program.

   Having said that, let me just say to the gentleman from Michigan that I am as concerned as he is about the alternative economic assistance programs down there. When we were there in the Putumayo region in Puerto Asis, we heard over and over again from farmers that the fumigation is going on and they are not getting the kind of economic assistance that had been promised to them.

   The message that we left with our USAID people down there and that we have conveyed to them since we have been back here is that those programs must go apace, they must go along with this. You cannot have the fumigation, you cannot have the spraying if you do not give people some alternative of something they can do. In response to the fumigation, as an alternative for it, they need to have some kind of economic livelihood that they can pursue in these regions.

   So I would say to the gentleman that I quite agree with him, that it is absolutely imperative, absolutely important that the money that we have set aside, which is substantial in this bill, half of the money is set aside for alternative economic development in this region, that that money be set aside and that they use that money, they contract with the contractors they have available down there, they get this money into the region and that we do the alternative economic assistance. It is absolutely imperative that we do that. Without that, our credibility is nil. We may have sprayed the area, but we have not given the people any basis on which they can rebuild an economic life for themselves. I quite agree with the gentleman


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