Bush triples aid pledge to Peru
By Bill Sammon
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
LIMA, Peru — President Bush yesterday promised to
triple anti-drug aid to Peru but warned that the new funds
won't be effective unless Americans stop using the cocaine
and heroin that originate in this impoverished Andean nation.
"As demand for drugs goes down, it'll take the pressure off of
our friends in Peru," Mr. Bush said at a joint press conference with
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo. "So we've got a double
obligation, it seems like to me."
The president said the first part of this obligation is to increase
anti-drug aid dramatically to $195 million a year.
"But I want to remind our Peruvian friends that we've got
to do a better job at home of convincing Americans to stop
using drugs," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Toledo acknowledged selfish reasons for wanting to
eradicate the drug trade.
"I want to be very open, and I apologize to my friend
President Bush now," he said in the ornate Presidential
Palace. "We are not fighting against drug trafficking in order
to satisfy the United States or Europe. Drug trafficking, in
partnership with terrorism, is an issue of national security."
"On Wednesday, they killed nine people — nine of our
brothers and sisters — and there were 30 people wounded,"
he said, referring to this week's deadly bombing near the U.S.
Embassy. "We are not going to let this stand."
Mr. Bush's visit to Peru and other Latin American nations
was derided by Democrats yesterday as a craven grab for
Hispanic votes in the United States.
The Democratic Party devoted its weekly radio address
to ridiculing Mr. Bush's four-day trip, which concludes today
in El Salvador.
"The president's trip this weekend to Latin America is part
of an orchestrated strategy to curry favor with Latino voters
in the United States," said Antonio Villaraigosa, speaker
emeritus of the California State Assembly.
"But our community knows the difference between
rhetoric and results," he added. "They know the difference
between pandering and producing."
The comments were broadcast in the United States as
police in Peru fired tear gas at anti-American demonstrators
just hours before Mr. Bush arrived from Mexico.
"Bush, murderer, get out of Peru," the protestors shouted
as they scattered amid the acrid smoke. One wore a T-shirt
bearing the image of leftist revolutionary Ernesto "Che"
"Down with Yankee imperialism," others chanted. "We
don't want to be a North American colony."
The president's visit came three days after a car bomb
exploded outside the U.S. Embassy, killing nine Peruvians.
Mr. Bush said he would not let "two-bit terrorists" stop him
from becoming the first president to visit Lima, where the
bombing was blamed on Shining Path communist guerillas.
"Peruvians have been reminded again this week of the
terrible human toll of terror," Mr. Bush said. "On behalf of the
people of the United States, I express our deep sympathy for
the victims of the recent bombing and our deep sympathy for
their loved ones."
"President Toledo and I share a common perspective on
terrorism: We must stop it," he added. "Since September the
11th, Peru has taken the lead in rallying our hemisphere to
take strong action against this common threat."
Most people crowding the streets of this teeming city
seemed please to be hosting the American president, who
brought promises of increased foreign aid. In addition to the
$45 million in food assistance the American taxpayers will
provide this year, Mr. Bush agreed to cancel $5.5 million in
debt in exchange for Peruvian efforts to "protect biodiversity
and tropical forests," the White House said.
The decision to triple anti-drug funding came after Peru
saw a rise in the cultivation of plants that are used to produce
cocaine and heroin. The resurgence of these drugs here
coincided with an anti-drug crackdown in nearby Columbia.
In addition to pumping $75 million into drug eradication
programs, Mr. Bush also brought plans for a $125 million aid
package aimed at economic and social development in a
nation where more than half the population lives beneath the
Mr. Bush, who recently imposed stiff tariffs on imports of
steel and lumber to the United States, yesterday extolled the
virtues of free trade in South America. He promised Mr.
Toledo "to renew and extend the Andean Trade Preferences
"The United States House of Representatives has moved
this legislation," Mr. Bush said. "It is stuck in the Senate, and
I urge the Senate to act."
Later during a meeting with Mr. Toledo and leaders of
Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, one of the men used a
combination of English and a Spanish to express impatience
over the trade act.
"The Senate is 'manana-ing' this to death," said the leader
regarding the continuous delays, according to a senior
administration official who refused to reveal the speaker's
Mr. Bush also announced that he would send Secretary of
Commerce Donald L. Evans and other officials on a trade
mission to Peru and the Andean region later this year.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Toledo also reached an agreement to
dispatch the Peace Corps into Peru for the first time in nearly
Mr. Toledo, who was having breakfast with Secretary of
State Colin L. Powell in his palace when terrorists attacked
the United States on September 11, yesterday reiterated his
support for America's war against terrorism.
"This is the beginning of a new era in the relationship
between Peru and the United States," he said to his American
counterpart. "We both have the energy and the stubbornness,
particularly with regard to the issue of terrorism and drug
trafficking, because your country, just like mine, loves peace."
Mr. Bush reciprocated by praising the Peruvian
president's efforts at democratic reform. Mr. Toledo, whose
popularity here has fallen along with the economy, seemed to
bask in the praise of the American president.
"It's an honor for me to be the first sitting president of the
United States to visit Peru," said Mr. Bush, who sprinkled his
remarks with snippets of Spanish. "Peru is on the path toward
greater freedom and greater prosperity, and America will be
the partner in this progress."