Colombia, with the support of the United States and others, is reducing illicit drug production and activities -- such as terrorism -- that are financed by drug trafficking.
The U.S. State Department's recent International Narcotics Control Strategy Report says that in 2005, some one-hundred-seventy-thousand hectares of illegal coca, with a value of more than fifteen billion dollars, were destroyed in Colombia. Also in 2005, Colombia extradited to the U.S. what the report says is "an all-time high of one-hundred-thirty-four people." All but two face drug-related charges.
Among the major drug traffickers is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a terrorist organization. Anne Patterson, the State Department's Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, says the campaign against illicit drugs began in 2000 with the implementation Of Plan Colombia:
"During that first year while we were building up the infrastructure for Plan Colombia, coca and opium poppy cultivation reached an all-time high. Under the leadership of Presidents [Andres] Pastrana and [Alvaro] Uribe, progress in Colombia has been dramatic. Major drug traffickers extradited to the U.S. included FARC leaders and Cali Cartel leader Miguel Rodriquez Orejuela. Public safety has improved."
Ms. Patterson says that in 2005, "kidnappings were down fifty-one percent and homicides by thirteen percent.” In recent years, the World Bank listed Colombia as a country with one of the world’s most improved investment climates. The U.S. and Colombia, says Ms. Patterson, "understand that major challenges remain":
"Narcotraffickers embarked on an aggressive replanting campaign last year that nearly equated the coca crop destroyed by eradication. The U.S. and Colombia are looking now at ways to counter this rapid replanting. This would include stepping up the aerial spray program. . . and helping Colombia built its capacity to take over the program in the future."
President George W. Bush says that the U.S and Colombia are "working together to fight drug trafficking and terrorism, and to promote security, democracy and the rule of law." Mr. Bush says, "President Uribe's leadership and the courage of the Colombian people are creating a bright future for Colombia."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.