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An introduction to the plan columbia a military aid package designed by the clinton administration

Pastrana came promoting something he called "Plan Colombia. Growing military aid Even while U. This began to change in late 1998 when the U. Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, and the Colombian Minister of Defense at the time, Rodrigo Lloreda, signed an agreement to formalize closer military cooperation.

It also inaugurated a new initiative: The killings reduced U. Policy proposals with a greater military component soon began to emerge. Southern Commanddistributed a document among his administration counterparts outlining a plan for a drastic increase in military aid to Colombia. The Colombian government presented the new "Plan" in a somewhat vague 30-page document that was available in English in October 1999 and in Spanish in February 2000.

The United States, of course, would be one of the major contributors. Many speculated that President Clinton would respond to the reworked "Plan Colombia" by asking Congress for an introduction to the plan columbia a military aid package designed by the clinton administration substantial aid package by the end of 1999. By the fall of 1999, though, Congress was tied up in a heated debate over the national budget, and the Colombian government was left waiting.

This delay was perceived in Colombian political circles as a blow to President Pastrana, contributing to a decline in his domestic approval ratings. On January 11, 2000, President Clinton proposed a package of about 1. Before its details were made public, U.

All signs indicated, though, that the proposed aid would win quick approval. It enjoyed the backing of both the president and the Republican majority in Congress. The aid package turned out to be a tough sell, however. The proposal spent nearly six months moving through Congress, slowed by delays and a great deal of skepticism in both houses. The offensive would, in the words of then- Southern Command Chief Gen. Charles Wilhelm, "ensure the necessary security for conducting counter-drug operations" like aerial herbicide fumigation.

A qualitative change from the past U. A purely military analysis gave reason to doubt that the battalions - about 2,800 troops with a few months of U. The possibility that a failed "push" could trigger a further escalation of U. Yet even if the "push" were somehow to succeed in eradicating all coca the plant used to make cocaine from Putumayo, the aid proposal did not make clear how the package would affect the net flow of drugs from Colombia.

The aid package was not designed to prevent drug cultivators - pushed by economic desperation and pulled by U. Increased military aid also risks strengthening anti-peace hard-liners on both sides: The package also had potentially disturbing human rights implications. When it reached the Senate floor, however, the outcome was quite different. Representative David Obey D-Wisconsin proposed to delay all military aid until July 31and make Congress approve it separately.

This amendment failed by a vote of 23 to 31. Toward the end of the debate Farr proposed three more amendments. Secretary of State certifies each year that Colombia has taken concrete steps to improve military human rights performance, including punishment of military personnel who aid and abet paramilitary groups. His third amendment would have re-channeled military aid to military reform and economic aid programs in the event of a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas.

The letter also opposed any funding for UNDCP because "that organization has under consideration the possibility of funding alternative development projects in the zone temporarily under control of the FARC. We would oppose any mechanism to provide U. The Full House of Representatives H. The night before the debate, the House Rules Committee determined that only amendments to cut funds from the package would be ruled "in order," with the exception of a few select amendments approved by the committee.

Skeptics of the Colombia aid package proposed several amendments, inspiring hours of lively debate on the House floor. Obey reintroduced the amendment he had proposed during the Appropriations Committee meeting three weeks earlier. After a brief debate — the Rules Committee gave Obey only twenty minutes of floor time — the amendment lost by a roll-call vote.

The Rules Committee denied Rep. Her parliamentary maneuver allowed Rep. Pelosi to extend debate for about four hours; many observers remarked that the exchange was the first in-depth discussion of drug policy that they could recall taking place on the House floor.

The amendment eventually failed by a voice vote. This amendment failed by a 159 to 262 margin. Some 210 House members, just under half of those present for the voting, supported at least one of the two measures. The "emergency supplemental appropriations" bill — less than 10 percent of it aid to Colombia — passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 263 in favor and 146 against. The Delahunt-Farr-Gilman-Goss human rights conditions were added — though they contained language that allowed the President to waive them if "extraordinary circumstances" exist, essentially making them optional.

Taylor inserted a "troop cap" prohibiting the use of funds in the package to maintain more than 300 U. Lott preferred that the Senate consider the Colombia aid funds as attachments to the regular 2001 budget bills. As a result, a small portion of the aid less than 10 percent was transferred to the Military Construction Appropriations bill S. Ted Stevens R-AlaskaSen. Much of this cut came from a change in the types of helicopters that would be delivered to the new battalions.

The thirty UH-60 "Blackhawk" helicopters that were envisioned in previous versions of the package were entirely replaced by seventy-five UH-1H "Super Hueys," an upgrade of a cheaper, older model. Its version tripled aid for human rights and the institutions that defend them.

At the initiative of Sen. The conditions would have mandated that military and police aid be frozen until the U. Robert Byrd D-West Virginiarequiring that any future appropriations for counter-drug activities in Colombia be authorized as well as appropriated.

This amendment failed by a surprisingly narrow 11 to 15 margin, leading many to believe that the Colombia aid package would face rough going in a skeptical Senate. The Full Senate This proved not to be the case. The expected bloc of senators opposing or questioning the aid package failed to materialize on June 20-22, when the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill came to the Senate floor.

As a result, the aid package earned quick approval after a surprisingly superficial debate that left many questions unanswered. Paul Wellstone D-Minnesota proposed an amendment that would have eliminated the "push into southern Colombia" section of the aid package and shifted those resources into drug-treatment programs in the United States. Boxer also sought to introduce an amendment to limit the involvement of U.

The Colombia aid package had some unlikely backers in the Senate. It failed narrowly, by a vote of 47 to 51. Some senators who had initially opposed the aid package changed their views.

A week before the Senate debate, Sens. Instead it risks dragging the United States into a costly counter insurgency war. Yet, ever since World War II, our country has declared war on communism, poverty, drugs, teenage pregnancy and gun violence — but, oddly enough, not on Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Iraq, Somalia, or Kosovo.

Congress should move now to deliver the arms, equipment and other elements of the program to suppress lawlessness in the countryside. The military portion was reduced significantly by the helicopter substitution, and the outlay for human rights was tripled.

At this stage, a powerful group of legislators from both houses reaches consensus between the House and Senate versions of a bill that is to go to the President for signature. The Conference Committee, whose compromise version or "conference report" normally gains quick approval from both houses, is often regarded as the least transparent step of the process, as it normally meets behind closed doors with limited opportunity to inform or affect the debate.

The committee split the difference on the distribution of expensive helicopters, an area of significant disagreement between the two versions: In August 2000, President Clinton chose to waive the "optional" human rights conditions. The Conference Committee also omitted some sound provisions in the House bill, such as Rep. Clinton Administration rhetoric, 1998-2000 Mid 1998 through early 1999: President Pastrana has the will,the courage, and the support of his people to build peace. I welcome his efforts to open talks with insurgent groups.

We stand ready to help. For this reason we want to work with you to promote peace in Colombia. The negotiations scheduled to begin July 7 were postponed by the guerrillas, who then launched a nationwide offensive on July 3, raising anew questions of their commitment to establishing a lasting peace.

"Plan Colombia": The Debate in Congress, 2000

And he needs -- and deserves-- international support that focuses on more than drug interdiction and eradication. But we also see that to get a negotiation that produces a peace agreement, you have to put some pressure on the parties, especially the guerrillas. And therefore, we are working, as we always have, with the Colombian National Police, to strengthen their ability to go after the narcos, thereby denying income to the guerrillas. And we are doing the same thing now with the Armed Forces which we had done on a much more limited scale in the past.

Now we see the need to provide enough firepower, enough manpower in the Armed Forces to accompany the police in their efforts to go after the narcotraffickers. Charles Wilhelm, commander-in-chief, U. Southern Command, February 15, 2000 "We must not stand by and allow a democracy elected by its people, defended with great courage by people who have given their lives, be undermined and overwhelmed by those who literally are willing to tear the country apart for their own agenda.

And make no mistake about it; if the oldest democracy in South America can be torn down, so can others.

The Interests Involved Several powerful economic and political interests played important roles in guiding the U. What Happened in Europe? The Colombian government met with representatives of 27 donor countries and several international organizations on Friday July 5, in Madrid, Spain and again on October 24 in Bogota. Lobbying by corporations, those with investments in Colombia and those who stood to gain financially from the aid package, played a big role as well.

Oil companies, stung by years of guerrilla attacks on their infrastructure in Colombia, aggressively supported the legislation; a vice president of Occidental Petroleum even testified in a hearing before the House Drug Policy Subcommittee. Meanwhile the lobbying efforts of helicopter manufacturers — Blackhawk vendor United Technologies and Huey upgrade kit maker Bell Textron — included free helicopter rides over Washington for congressional staffers.

Election-year fears of being misleadingly portrayed as "soft on drugs" certainly swayed many.