April 15, 2000
Colombian president: Aid package will help battle corruption

                   WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Colombian President Andres Pastrana, lobbying the
                   international community for aid to fight the cocaine trade and end his country's
                   guerrilla wars, took to the air waves Saturday and said his reform package would
                   end the corruption that has plagued his country.

                   "We are putting all our effort to control and have a transparent management of
                   the resources, not only from the United States, but also from the international
                   community," Pastrana said on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields" program.
                   "That's the most important thing, and we are willing to do anything so that we
                   could show the world that we are going to manage this in the most transparent

                   Pastrana was in London and Washington this past week lobbying for $1.6 billion
                   in U.S. aid and nearly $2 billion more from European donors to back his Plan
                   Colombia for fighting narcotics in the Andean nation.

                   He said the recent revelation that the wife of a former top U.S. military official in
                   Colombia was herself dealing drugs points out the need for the United States to
                   approve its proposed aid package.

                   "I think that what we're showing, instead of pointing out who's responsible, we
                   have to think that this is a criminal organization that is willing to bribe everybody.
                  And that's why we need the help of the U.S. and the help of the international
                  community and we're giving also the help to the United States, international
                  community to discover all these type of operations," Pastrana said.

                   "Now I think the drug (trade) is a globalized business, and you saw the other day,
                   Russia, the Russian mob, the Russian mafia, is exchanging arms for cocaine with
                  Colombian groups," he said. "So this is also showing that we need to unite our
                  efforts to fight this criminal organization."

                   Administration still pushing for U.S. aid

                   A $1.6 billion U.S. aid package has been approved by the House of
                   Representatives as emergency legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott,
                   R-Mississippi, is holding it for next year's budget.

                   Earlier this past week, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright testified before
                   Congress that Pastrana "merits our support for his plan to fight drug trafficking,
                   achieve peace, promote prosperity and improve governance throughout his

                   Part of the U.S. package includes Blackhawk helicopters to be used against drug
                   traffickers and guerrilla fighters. One concern is that there may not be enough
                   trained pilots to fly them, and that U.S. pilots may be called in, a concern
                   Pastrana denied.

                   "Really, what we're trying to do on the agreement with the United States is when
                   starting point of the aid to Colombia, we will start sending our own pilots, air
                   force pilots or army pilots, to be trained in the United States," he said.

                   Pastrana's reform package aims at ending some 30 years of warfare with
                   Marxist guerrillas, many involved in the drug trade. More than 35,000 people
                   have been killed in the fighting during the past 10 years.

                   Pastrana: In guerrillas' best interest to cooperate

                   Pastrana said it is in the guerrilla groups' best interest to make peace. The
                   president said $2 billion of the three-year $7.5 billion program would be
                   earmarked for social investment, in health, education, housing and creating
                   alternative development programs.

                   But the country's left-wing rebel groups regularly cite corruption as one of the
                   justifications for their decades-old war.

                   Pastrana last week proposed a national referendum on parliament following
                   revelations of alleged fraud and favoritism in some $2.7 million in contracts
                   handed out by Congress late last year.

                   The proposed reforms, however, come during a time of renewed international
                   criticism about the overall human rights picture in Colombia. On Friday, U.N.
                   High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said the human rights
                   situation in Colombia had markedly worsened during the past year.

                   The majority of the allegations have implicated paramilitary groups, which
                   allegedly operate with the support or acquiescence of the Colombian military,
                   Robinson told the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission.

                   On "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields," Pastrana disputed claims by the group
                   Human Rights Watch that there is "credible evidence" of a link between military
                   intelligence, paramilitary groups and hired killers, emphasizing that his
                   government has also proposed reforms for the Colombian military.

                   "No, I don't say that it's correct because sometimes it's not absolutely correct,"
                   the president said. Three or four years earlier, the number of people in
                   Colombia's military linked to paramilitary groups was about 1,500, Pastrana said.
                   Today, that figure is between 50 and 60, he said.

                           The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.