President Pledges More Aid for Colombia's War on Drugs, Terror
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2004 President Bush promised more U.S. aid to help Colombia fight the drugs and violence that he said threatens not only that nation and Latin America, but also the United States.
"Our two nations share in the struggle against drugs," Bush said during a joint press conference in the country's seaport city of Cartagena with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Nov. 22. "The drug traffickers who practice violence and intimidation in this country send their addictive and deadly products to the United States."
Colombia produces about 90 percent of the cocaine and about half of the heroin used by the United States.
Defeating the drug traffickers, the president said, "is vital to the safety of our peoples and to the stability of this hemisphere."
Bush said he and Uribe share optimism that Colombia can win its war against narcoterrorism. "Colombia is well on the way to that victory," he said.
Since Uribe took office in August 2002, he's built "an impressive record," Bush said, with declines in kidnappings, terrorist attacks and suicides and a dramatic increase in cocaine seizures.
In addition, dozens of leaders and financiers of the narcoterrorist organization Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have been killed or captured since last July, the president said. At the same time, Uribe has reformed Colombia's judicial system and is aggressively fighting corruption.
"My nation will continue to help Colombia prevail in this vital struggle," Bush said.
Since 2000, the United States has provided more than $3 billion in aid to the South American nation. "We've helped Colombia to strengthen its democracy, to combat drug production, to create a more transparent and effective judicial system, to increase the size and professionalism of its military and police forces, to protect human rights and to reduce corruption," Bush said.
Uribe acknowledged good progress but said the fight is not over. "We will win, but we have not won yet," he said. "We have made progress, but the serpent is still alive."
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