Senate Report Says Colombia Anti-Drug Actions Fall Short
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Colombia has not cooperated adequately with U.S. anti-drug efforts and should be subject to economic sanctions, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report said Monday.
The report said the Colombian government has failed to dismantle drug cartels and to eradicate the influence of ``narco-corruption″ in the Colombian political system.
The study was made available to The Associated Press as President Clinton prepared to issue his annual report on the cooperation of drug-producing or drug-transit countries in the struggle against trafficking.
If Clinton is unable to certify that a country is offering cooperation, a partial aid cutoff is required along with U.S. opposition to Colombian requests for assistance in international lending institutions.
In Colombia’s case, a decision by Clinton to ``decertify″ that country also could cost it certain trade preferences and future membership in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Aid for anti-narcotics programs, which totaled $29.6 million for Colombia last year, would not be affected.
Clinton is expected to say that Colombia has fallen short of expectations but that the national interest demands that sanctions not be imposed.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher told Congress two weeks ago the United States was disappointed in Colombia’s performance in 1994. He expressed hope for improvement.
The committee report was prepared by Dan Fisk and Yvette Wooley, both Republican staff members. It was accompanied by a letter from the committee staff director, James W. Nance, to committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and the ranking minority member, Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I.
``Colombia’s political and judicial systems are plagued by drug-related corruption,″ Nance wrote. ``An ineffective plea-bargaining arrangement leaves law-abiding citizens virtually unprotected. Meanwhile, the financial system is inundated with illegal monies.″
The report also was sharply critical of a plea bargaining system under which drug traffickers turn themselves in to authorities in exchange for judicial leniency.
``At least one third of those `convicted’ of a drug-related crime do not serve one day in prison,″ the report said.
It also complained there has been no serious investigation into allegations that the campaign of President Ernesto Samper received millions of dollars from the Cali cartel, which is said to control 80 per cent of the world’s cocaine. Samper was sworn in last August.
Perhaps with an eye on Washington, Samper has promised to strengthen prosecutions of drug traffickers by tightening plea bargaining arrangements. He also has promised, under a program initiated last year, to eradicate every poppy and coca plant in Colombia within two years.