Buffalo News on Colombia

soil_ride soilride at SPAMemail.msn.com
Wed Feb 7 15:58:54 MST 2001


While reading some articles on Colombia, I came across this from the Buffalo
News.  Take note, especially of the second article "Sustained success
unlikely for U.S.-supported anti-drug offensive ", of the language and the
context in which it has been used.  Also notice the last comment made in the
second article, which to me, points out that the US is looking more and more
criticially at Colombia, now more than ever.

In solidarity
Josh
------------------------

Colombian leader will meet with rebels to save talks

2/4/01


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - President Andres Pastrana agreed Saturday to meet
with the nation's top guerrilla leader this week and extended a guerrilla
enclave in southern Colombia for at least four more days to save peace
talks.
Pastrana said he will meet with Manuel Marulanda, the founder and leader of
the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, on Thursday somewhere
inside the guerrilla's Switzerland-sized enclave, according to Pastrana's
peace envoy, Camilo Gomez.

Gomez said the zone will be extended "for the time necessary to hold the
meeting" but didn't set a new deadline.

Pastrana has been under pressure to either end the guerrilla enclave or
secure a peace concession from the guerrillas.

It will be the third time Pastrana and Marulanda have met. The two are
expected to discuss a prisoner exchange, right-wing paramilitary groups and
Plan Colombia - Pastrana's drug-fighting initiative, backed by $1.3 billion
from Washington, that the rebel group says is a plan for war.
http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20010204/4007468.asp
-------------------------

Sustained success unlikely for U.S.-supported anti-drug offensive

By ANDREW SELSKY
Associated Press
2/4/01


BOGOTA, Colombia - U.S.-trained army troops are sweeping through the world's
top cocaine-producing region, protecting crop-dusters from enemy fire as
they wipe out coca crops at an astonishing pace.
But the initial success of the anti-drug offensive - heavily supported by
the United States and criticized by European nations - cannot be sustained
indefinitely, according to a senior U.S. military official based in
Colombia.

Washington's gamble that it can win the drug war with military power
includes the deployment of U.S. special forces as trainers to jungle camps
near the war zone and the delivery of dozens of combat helicopters.

So far, the results of the counterdrug operations in southern Putumayo
state, the world's largest cocaine-producing region, have been beyond
expectations.

In the past month, 62,000 acres of coca have been fumigated in Putumayo,
according to the U.S. military official, who spoke on condition that he not
be further identified. That acreage is at least one-third of the coca crop
believed to exist in Putumayo and more than half the coca that was fumigated
across all of Colombia in 1999.

But the pace will be virtually impossible to maintain, the U.S. official
said, partly because of expected hostile fire and logistics in the remote
Amazonian region.

The country's largest rebel group - the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia - earns huge profits by protecting coca crops and taxing the
growers. Rebel threats to resist the offensive haven't yet materialized into
major action.

But 70 percent of the coca fumigated so far in Putumayo was under control of
a right-wing paramilitary group, not the rebels, the U.S. military official
said.

The paramilitary group, which also "taxes" the coca industry, is unlikely to
fight the army because it often maintains covert alliances with army
officers - as noted in a recent White House human rights report.

Gonzalo de Francisco, President Andres Pastrana's point man for Putumayo,
agreed that when the U.S.-trained army troops move into guerrilla
strongholds, fighting will intensify.

"The (rebels) have been there for five years," he said. "They will resist."

U.S. and Colombian officials expect that the increased spray operations will
eventually outpace the planters' ability to move to new areas.

Under the $1.3 billion U.S. aid package, 10 fumigation planes will be
deployed in addition to the 10 already being used. U.S. special forces have
also been training three Colombian army battalions, containing about 3,000
troops, to fight the drug war.

The United States also will be sending dozens of Black Hawk helicopters to
Colombia later this year and "Super Huey" helicopters by March 2002.

Critics of the U.S. military aid to Colombia often draw comparisons to the
early years of the Vietnam War, when Washington's involvement began with the
deployment of a few military advisers.

Under Washington's aid package, no more than 500 U.S. soldiers and 300
contract employees can be in the country at one time. They are barred from
going into combat.

The rebels warn that U.S. troops found in war zones would be considered
"military targets."

The U.S. military official insisted that the Green Berets and other U.S.
special forces troops are stationed primarily in "areas where contact with
hostile forces is unlikely."

"Force protection of deployed U.S. trainers is critical," he said.
http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20010204/1006340.asp









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