Colombia urges review of global war on drugs
Pastrana seeks broader attack
BOGOTA, Colombia -- (AP) -- President Andrés Pastrana called
Thursday for a review of the global war against drugs, saying it should
extend beyond the U.S.-backed
spraying of drug crops.
Pastrana -- who will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
in Bogotá next week -- also said Washington's suspension of joint
interdiction of drug flights with
Colombia and Peru ``has allowed a lot of drugs to pass over our territory because there is no control of our air space.''
The program was suspended following the accidental shootdown of a U.S. missionary plane over the Peruvian amazon in April.
Pastrana made his remarks as Colombia's largest leftist insurgency
slammed Powell's upcoming visit and charged that his trip is a sign of
greater U.S. military ambitions
in Latin America.
``We reject this visit precisely because Mr. Powell is a representative
of the most militaristic sector of the U.S. administration,'' said Andrés
París, a peace negotiator for
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Pastrana, meanwhile, urged the United States and its allies to establish a policy on interdiction.
``I think we can truly hit the heart of the [drug] business, through interdiction and not simply through fumigation,'' Pastrana told a small group of foreign reporters.
The fumigation of drug crops -- mainly coca, from which cocaine
is made -- by U.S. State Department crop-dusters is the linchpin of Washington's
counternarcotics policy in Colombia. But it has come under increasing fire recently amid allegations it is harmful to humans and the environment.
Pastrana gave no indication that he would backtrack on the spraying,
but said he wanted to focus on coca plantations that are protected and
taxed by leftist rebels and
right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia.
Pastrana said President Bush should organize an international
conference to re-evaluate anti-drug strategies. Wiping out drug crops has
had some success, Pastrana
noted. But he said high drug demand in the United States and Europe makes the narcotics business one of the largest in the world, worth $500 billion annually.
Pastrana said the conference should look at past successes and
``errors'' of the global anti-drug strategy and should also focus on money
laundering and nations that
supply chemicals used to process cocaine.
© 2001 The Miami Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.