Andean Regional Initiative

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On July 11, 2001, Rand Beers, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, testified before the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations about President George Walker Bush's Andean Regional Intiative (ARI).[1]


According to Beers' testimony, "In July 2000, Congress approved a $1.3 billion supplemental appropriation to carry out enhanced counternarcotics activities in the Andean region. Of that amount, approximately $1 billion in Function 150 funding through the State Department was the U.S. contribution to what has become known as Plan Colombia, a comprehensive, integrated, Colombian action plan to address Colombia's complex and interrelated problems. The initial two-year phase of Plan Colombia focused on the southern part of the country [which] began with an intensive counternarcotics push into southern Colombia, along with the expansion of programs aimed at social action and institutional strengthening, and alternative development. Plan Colombia is now well underway and showing good early results. In addition to stemming the flow of narcotics entering the U.S., our assistance is intended to support institutional and judicial reform, as well as economic advancement, in one of this hemisphere's oldest democracies.

"Members of Congress, the NGO community, and other interested observers had previously expressed concerns regarding aspects of U.S. Government support to Plan Colombia. Those concerns focused particularly on three areas: that we did not consult widely enough in putting together our support package; that we focused too much on security and law enforcement, and not enough on development and institutional reform; and that our assistance was too heavily oriented toward Colombia as compared to the rest of the region.

"The Administration has taken to heart those concerns in formulating the President's proposed Andean Regional Initiative (ARI). ARI is the product of consultations with the staffs of committees and Members of Congress, with the governments of the region, and with other potential donor countries and international financial institutions. ARI addresses the three issues that lie at the heart of the challenges facing the region: democracy, development, and drugs. ARI balances the need to address the continuing challenges in Colombia with the competing priority of working with the rest of the region to prevent a further spreading of Colombia's problems or backsliding in areas where progress already has been made."

"Our support to Plan Colombia was the first step in responding to the crisis underway in Colombia. The Andean Regional Initiative is the next stage of a long-term effort to address the threat of narcotics and the underlying causes of the narcotics industry and violence in Colombia, while assisting Colombia's neighbors to ward off those same dangers in their own countries. Their success is vital to our own national interests in promoting the spread of strong democratic institutions, the enhancement of trade and investment opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers, and the reduction of narcotics production and trafficking that threaten our society."

"... I want to point out that alternative development is an integral part of our plan for weeding out illicit coca and poppy cultivation in the Andes. We have had large alternative development programs in Bolivia and Peru for many years, and they have been quite successful, combining with aggressive eradication and interdiction programs to produce significant declines in the coca crops of those countries. Colombia is trying to replicate that success in Plan Colombia, combining a substantially expanded alternative development program with aerial eradication and interdiction activities in southern Colombia, currently the largest concentration of coca cultivation in the world."

"... the Department is moving quickly to implement our support to Plan Colombia ... [with the] delivery of helicopters, aerial spray aircraft, and other equipment which is proceeding smoothly [and] support for the Colombian Government's aerial spraying program."


"... FY 2002 budget request for INL's $731 million Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI), as part of the larger $882 million ARI ... addresses holistically - providing assistance for social and economic development as well as for counternarcotics and security efforts - the narcotics scourge throughout the Andean region. We are hopeful that this macro-approach will eliminate the 'balloon effect' which we observe when programs are developed country by country."

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