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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                    (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts)

For Immediate Release August 4, 2000


        Presidential Decision Directive on the Colombia Initiative:
                  Increased U.S. Assistance for Colombia

Colombia is enduring difficult, mutually reinforcing social, economic and security challenges, with serious implications for U.S. national security and humanitarian interests. The President has directed, as a matter of national priority, an increased U.S. Government effort to support the creation or enhancement of Colombian host-nation capabilities essential to the successful implementation of Plan Colombia.

Plan Colombia is President Pastrana's comprehensive and balanced response to Colombia's interrelated challenges. In addition to targeting the critical drug trafficking problem, the integrated strategy addresses human rights, democratization, judicial reform, social development, the economy, and the peace process.

Colombia's lawlessness, corruption, and long internal conflict are exacerbated by the immense profits generated by the drug trade. Ninety percent of the cocaine supplied to the United States originates in or passes through Colombia, as does two-thirds of the heroin seized in this country. As a result, Colombia has become the central focus of the United States' Western Hemisphere efforts to reduce the supply of illicit drugs.

Domestic drug abuse costs the United States society an estimated 52,000 lives and $110 billion annually. In Colombia, pervasive violence has cost an estimated 35,000 lives in the past fifteen years and displaced more than 700,000 people in the past three years alone. According to some estimates, there are as many as 1.4 million internally displaced persons in Colombia, the fourth largest such crisis in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Colombia is also a dangerous working environment for American government officials and private citizens, with homicide and kidnapping rates among the highest in the world. In addition, regional security is increasingly strained by the spillover of drug trafficking, insurgent and paramilitary activities into neighboring countries.

This Administration has been actively pursuing a comprehensive and balanced strategy to help Colombia fight the drug trade, institute judicial reform, promote the rule of law, enhance respect for human rights, assist the internally displaced, expand economic development, and foster peace. With today's announcement, the Administration is intensifying that coordinated effort at a critical juncture in the fight against illicit drug production both in Colombia and throughout the Andean region.

In support of the Colombia initiative, Congress recently approved an Administration request for a substantial increase in assistance for Plan Colombia implementation. The $1.3 billion package also provides increased assistance for other countries in the region, primarily to consolidate counterdrug gains in the major Andean drug-producing countries and to ensure that successful law enforcement efforts in Colombia do not simply drive illicit drug cultivation and production into neighboring countries.

The additional U.S. assistance for Colombia will target:

Our increased support for the Colombian National Police and Armed Forces will continue to be focused on the common counter-drug objective. As a matter of Administration policy, the United States will not support Colombian counterinsurgency efforts. The United States will, however, provide support, in accordance with existing authorities and this policy, to the Government of Colombia for force protection and for security directly related to counterdrug efforts, regardless of the source of the threat. The Administration remains convinced that the ultimate solution to Colombia's long-standing civil conflict is through a successful peace process.

Increased U.S. assistance for Colombia will support important programs that strengthen human rights monitoring and enforcement throughout Colombia and that provide human rights training to Colombian security forces. In addition, U.S. assistance will be restricted to only those police and military units that are carefully vetted with respect to allegations of human rights abuses.

The classified Presidential Decision Directive establishes the coordination framework and assigns key agency roles and responsibilities for enhancing the U.S. effort to assist President Pastrana and the Colombian people in implementing their national strategy. This broad-scope support will entail significant efforts by many agencies throughout the U.S. government, including the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and the Treasury, as well as the Agency for International Development, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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