BOGOTA, Colombia - President Andres Pastrana, one of
Washington's closest allies in the global war on drugs, called
Thursday for a review of that struggle, saying it has produced few
``The conclusions are not good,'' Pastrana said in a rare talk
with foreign journalists ahead of next week's visit by Secretary of
State Colin Powell. ``The conclusions are that drugs are still the
first- or second-biggest business of mankind.''
n the wide-ranging discussion in the presidential palace,
Pastrana said he still hopes for a negotiated end to Colombia's
civil war. He also said the United States should re-establish
intelligence-sharing with Colombia's air force about suspected drug
flights, and urged President Bush to help organize an international
Colombian President Andres Pastrana leaves a military ceremony in Bogota in this Aug. 7, 2001 file photo. Pastrana called Thursday, Sept. 6, 2001 for a review of the global war against drugs, including the U.S.-backed aerial fumigation of drug crops. (AP Photo/Scott Dalton)
``Clearly, we must also make an evaluation - and not only of the
policies of fumigation and interdiction,'' Pastrana said.
He described a global narcotics industry worth $500 billion and
said drug lords are seeking out new markets in Europe and the
former Soviet Union.
Drug use is on the rise in the United States, Pastrana said.
However, the White House says the overall number of drug users has
dropped, but that heroin use is rising and more Americans aged
18-25 are using drugs.
Washington suspended helping Colombia and Peru track down
drug-smuggling flights - using U.S. radar and surveillance planes -
after the accidental shootdown of a U.S. missionary plane over the
Peruvian Amazon in April.
Pastrana said the suspension ``has allowed a lot of drugs to
pass over our territory because there is no control of our air
He urged a resumption, saying: ``I think we can truly hit the
heart of the business through interdiction, and not simply through
The fumigation of drug plants by U.S.-provided crop-dusters is
the linchpin of Washington's $1.3 billion counternarcotics policy
in Colombia. The spraying has been criticized amid allegations it
endangers health and the environment, and that it hurts peasant
farmers who grow coca to eke out a living.
The president gave no indication that he would backtrack on the
spraying during his last year in office, but said he wanted to
focus on large-scale coca plantations.
The rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and
their enemies, the right-wing paramilitary United Self-Defense
Forces of Colombia, earn huge profits by guarding and taxing the
coca and poppy plantations that provide much of the world's
cocaine, and most of the heroin used in the United States.
The millions of dollars in drug revenue has allowed the FARC and
the paramilitaries to expand their forces and better arm
Pastrana said the U.S. and Europe should stem the laundering of
drug money and control the export of chemicals used in Colombia to
Despite the glacially slow pace of peace talks begun with the
FARC three years ago, Pastrana said he would leave office
``I tell you, Andres Pastrana was elected for one purpose: to
try, by all legal and constitutional means, to consolidate a peace
process,'' he told reporters. ``And for the first time, we today
are sitting at the table even with all the difficulties.''
Pastrana said he has not decided yet whether to renew rebel
control over a huge southern safe haven he granted the FARC three
years ago. The safe zone, which the FARC allegedly is using to
stash kidnap victims and stage military attacks, expires next
``The government has given everything. We hope the FARC
reciprocates,'' Pastrana said.
Pastrana said he plans to discuss trade issues with Powell
during his visit to Bogota on Tuesday and Wednesday. Colombia wants
a renewal and broadening of the U.S. Andean Trade Preference Act,
which expires in December, Pastrana said.
The ATPA aims to develop legal alternatives to drug production
in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru by giving duty-free status
to the Andean region's exports, such as flowers, minerals, coffee
Colombia wants to add textiles, food oils and other products.
``We've said to the Americans: don't give us dollars. We don't
want money,'' Pastrana said. ``Give us trade. Give us the chance to
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press