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Colombia Counters Narcotics Trade

The United States is working closely with the government of Colombia in an effort to reduce the trafficking of illegal narcotics. Colombia is a major producer of the coca used to produce cocaine and of the opium poppies that are the raw ingredients of heroin. Since 2000, the U.S. has provided some four billion dollars to Colombia in aid. The funds are being used to destroy illicit crops, train Colombia's military and police, and promote alternatives to growing coca and poppy.

On a recent visit to Colombia, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. commitment will continue:

"We believe that the combination of military and police and justice assistance and economic assistance that we have been giving to Colombia has made it a place that is on a road to greater security."

Drug crop growers in Colombia are said to be responsible for destroying more than two-million hectares of forests, and using the land to grow coca and opium poppies. Colombia is also a center for money laundering. The illegal drug trade in Colombia is used to finance both leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary forces.

When it came to power in 2002, the government of President Alvaro Uribe expanded the aerial fumigation program to destroy illicit drug crops and the military campaign against the narco-terrorists. "The battle against terrorists and against drugs that you're [the U.S.] helping us to win," says Mr. Uribe, "is the most noble of all the battles you may fight all over the world. The victory in Colombia," he says, "is a necessity for our people."

John Walters is director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He says anti-narcotics efforts in Colombia and elsewhere are succeeding:

"We are headed in the right direction. winning. Cocaine production is down a third in the Andes as a whole since 2001, and Colombia's opium crop was cut by half between 2003 and 2004."

Secretary of State Rice said that in Colombia, "The drug fight is not yet over. Colombia, said Ms. Rice, "is on the road to dealing with the drug-trafficking problem."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.