First Steps Toward a Constructive U.S. Policy in Colombia—Press Release

April 18, 2000

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Washington, D.C., March 23, 2000--Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, the chairs of a blue-ribbon independent task force on Colombia, today urged Congress to support the Administration’s aid package for Colombia as "an essential first step" toward an effective longer-term strategy to assist that troubled South American country. This and other recommendations for action on the immediate issues confronting Congress are presented in the interim report of the task force, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue. The final report will be published in June.

Graham and Scowcroft argued that passage of the Administration’s bill is critical to Plan Colombia, a mutually agreed framework between the U.S. and Colombian governments to deal with Colombia’s multiple challenges--powerful insurgent and paramilitary forces, massive narcotrafficking, widespread human rights abuses, and economic recession. According to the chairs, approval of the bill should be conditioned on the human rights standards contained in the Leahy amendment. Graham and Scowcroft also stressed that "an effective package must get beyond the current emphasis on fighting drugs," and focus on helping the Colombian government "to strengthen its capacity to protect its citizens and effectively exercise control and authority over its territory." They advocated two adjustments to the aid package: 1) reinforce regional anti-drug approaches by providing added resources to Bolivia and Peru; and 2) demonstrate support for economic partnership with Colombia by extending the Andean Trade Preferences Act this year.

The report noted that "more is required, both from Washington and Bogotá." Beyond the current bill, the task force chairs urged:

  1. The Administration and Congress to work closely with the Colombians to develop a sensible plan to reform and professionalize Colombia’s security forces;
  2. The United States to give even higher priority over the long term to support Colombia’s efforts to remedy its institutional problems--particularly the judicial system;
  3. The United States and Colombia to mobilize multilateral efforts to assist Colombia; and
  4. The Administration and Congress to work to establish a strong bipartisan consensus on U.S. policy toward Colombia.

Task Force Members include:

  • Elliott Abrams, President, Ethics and Public Policy Center
  • Stanley S. Arkin, Senior Partner, Arkin Schaffer & Kaplan LLP
  • Cynthia Arnson, Assistant Director, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • Bernard Aronson, Chairman and Partner, Acon Investments LLC
  • Joyce Chang, Managing Director, International Fixed Income, Chase Securities
  • Robert Charles, President, Direct Impact LLC
  • Lee Cullum, Columnist, Dallas Morning News
  • Mike DeWine, Senator (R-OH), United States Senate
  • Jorge I. Domínguez, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Relations and Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Mathea Falco, President, Drug Strategies
  • J. Samuel Fitch, Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Sergio J. Galvis, Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell
  • Michael Gavin, Director, Economic and Financial Research, Warburg Dillon Read LLP
  • Charles A. Gillespie, Jr., Resident Senior Fellow, Forum for International Policy
  • Richard N. Haass, Director, Foreign Policy Studies Program, Brookings Institution
  • Henry Allen Holmes, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University
  • James R. Jones, Senior Counsel, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
  • George Joulwan, Former CINC, US Southern Command
  • Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Lieutenant Governor, State of Maryland
  • Anthony Lake, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Georgetown University
  • Abraham F. Lowenthal, President, Pacific Council on International Policy
  • Thomas F. McLarty, Vice Chairman, Kissinger McLarty Associates
  • Thomas McNamara, President, Americas Society
  • Ambler Moss, Jr., Director, Dante B. Fascell North-South Center, and Professor of International Studies, University of Miami
  • Lilia L. Ramírez, Director, Congressional Relations, Raytheon Corporation
  • Ervin J. Rokke, President, Moravian College
  • David J. Rothkopf, President, Newmarket Company
  • Viron P. Vaky, Senior Fellow, Inter-American Dialogue
  • Alexander F. Watson, Vice President and Executive Director, Latin American and Caribbean Division, The Nature Conservancy

Twenty-eight equally diverse and distinguished Colombians serve as task force advisers. Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue is the project director.

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