FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In rushing to approve a 1.7 billion dollar Colombian military aid package Congress is ignoring drug enforcement history which shows this approach will actually make America's drug problem worse.
There has not been an eradication or interdiction program in the last 35 years that has reduced the supply of illegal drugs. Indeed such efforts actually increase drug supplies by spurring new source countries, new trafficking routes and new drugs.
Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey recognizes that winning the war in Colombia is improbable and is already making excuses. Recently he said that lack of AWAC air support makes success in Colombia unlikely. Not only does this allow the drug czar to point blame for failure at DoD, it greases the skids for more direct involvement of our military in the Colombian civil war. The quagmire many fear is becoming more likely.
Since 1980 the federal government has spent over $250 billion on the drug war. Why do advocates of the Colombian escalation think that this $1.7 billion appropriation will succeed? Are these last few billion going to be more effective then the first $250 billion?
We should learn the lessons of drug wars past. Failure to do so is likely to result in a greater drug problem. For example, right now there are signs of an initial development of expanding methamphetamine use. This is a domestically produced speed. If, by chance, the Colombian drug war resulted in a drop in cocaine availability this would be a natural replacement drug. Thus, we would have spurred a more dangerous alternative, more difficult to interdict because it will be produced locally and, as history shows, in a brief time the cocaine market will move elsewhere to neighboring countries. Already, Peru is reporting that the price of raw coca has tripled and there has been an expansion of 1,500 hectares of new coca cultivation in 1999.
It is time to seek effective alternatives to expanding the drug war. For less then the cost of international drug efforts we could have treatment on request so addicts who want to stop can do so. The RAND Corporation has concluded that treatment is 10 times more effective then interdiction. We could also institute effective prevention programs for American youth. After school programs would do more to stop adolescent drug use then the drug war. The US spends $600 million on after school programs, the Children's Defense Fund recommends $2.5 billion.
These two programs would take away current consumers and reduce the number of
new consumers. If we want to undermine Colombian drug cartels we should take care
of our problems at home.
TO Learn More Contact
Back to Politics Directory