THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Grand Canyon, Arizona)
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I am announcing an urgently needed, two-year funding package to assist Colombia in vital counter-drug efforts aimed at keeping illegal drugs off our shores. It will also help Colombia promote peace and prosperity and deepen its democracy. Building on our current efforts, over this year and next our resulting support would total over $1.6 billion.
President Pastrana's inauguration in August 1998 brought to Colombia a new spirit of hope -- for deeper democracy, for broader prosperity, for an end to that country's long civil conflict. But, increased drug production and trafficking, coupled with a serious economic recession and sustained violence, have put that progress in peril.
President Pastrana has responded with a bold agenda -- Plan Colombia. It provides a solid, multifaceted strategy that the United States should support with substantial assistance. We have a compelling national interest in reducing the flow of cocaine and heroin to our shores, and in promoting peace, democracy and economic growth in Colombia and the region. Given the magnitude of the drug trafficking problem and their current economic difficulties, neither the Government of Colombia nor its neighbors can carry the full burden alone.
In Fiscal Year 2000, much of our support will be focused on a one-time infusion of funds to help boost Colombia's interdiction and eradication capabilities, particularly in the south.
The package will also include assistance for economic development, protection of human rights, and judicial reform.
Our bilateral aid to Colombia will be supplemented by multilateral agencies. The World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank are considering hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for Colombia next year. The IMF has already pledged a $2.7 billion Extended Fund facility to help jumpstart the economy. And we will also continue to encourage our allies to assist Colombia.
The obstacles to a better future for Colombia are substantial. We expect it will require years before the full benefits of Plan Colombia are felt. But I believe that with our support and that of other donors, Plan Colombia can soon accelerate Colombia's nascent economic recovery. Over the longer haul, we can expect to see more effective drug eradication and increased interdiction of illicit drug shipments.
Strengthening stability and democracy in Colombia, and fighting the drug trade there, is in our fundamental national interest. So, with President Pastrana and with our Congress, we must and we will intensify this vital work.