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12/17/02 - COLOMBIA AND TERRORISM - 2002-12-18


Colombia is playing an important role in the war against global terrorism. But Colombia is also engaged in its own internal war against terrorism and the narcotics traffickers who fund it. The U.S. is Colombia’s partner to free Colombia from the scourge of narco-terrorism and to meet Colombia’s desire for security, democracy, and prosperity. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “The United States stands with the people of Colombia in this struggle.”

The U.S. has designated two Marxist groups, the National Liberation Army and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, as terrorist organizations. A right-wing group, the United Self-Defense Force of Colombia, or A-U-C, is also on the terrorist list. On December 1st, the A-U-C said that it was beginning a unilateral cease-fire. Mr. Powell said, the U.S. thinks “that this was a good step, but it is a long way from being an actual cease-fire and it is a long way from leading to discussions that could lead to a solution to the problem of paramilitaries.”

As Secretary of State Powell put it, “We should not try to romanticize these groups into some sort of triumphant freedom fighters. They’re terrorists. And for years they have tried to undercut the hope of the Colombian people to have a government that focuses its energy...its resources...on economic development, on education, on health care, but instead it has to divert those resources to fighting terrorists and fight narco-trafficking.”

The U.S. supports Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s [al-va-row ooh-ree-bay] efforts to combat terrorism. But President Uribe is also committed to Colombia’s social and economic development. As the security situation improves, investment opportunities will open up and jobs will be created. People will see the benefit of supporting the democratic process.” This year, through Plan Colombia and other programs through the Andean Trade Preference and Drug Eradication Act, the U.S. has provided one-billion eight-hundred-million dollars in aid to the Colombian government. Roughly two-thirds of this assistance is aimed at combating narco-traffickers and terrorist organizations, and one-third is for democracy and anti-corruption programs, and for social and economic development. As Secretary of State Powell put it, “Clearly, there is much to be done.”

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