Canada Will Complement Fight Against Drugs

Canada Will Complement Fight Against Drugs
Posted by FoM on January 16, 2000 at 12:42:13 PT
Cartagena, Colombia (CP)
Source: Canoe
Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy has committed Canada to help Colombia in its struggle against the drug trade and has offered to help with negotiations to end a decades-long insurgency by Marxist guerrillas. Axworthy emerged from talks Saturday with Colombian President Andres Pastrana and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to elaborate on several Canadian initiatives he said he hopes will contribute to stability and security in the strife-torn South American country. 
 "Illicit drug-trafficking is a major challenge facing all of us in the Americas," Axworthy said earlier. He added that increasingly, countries that supply illicit drugs are "being infected as much by the drug traffic" as the consuming countries. Under an agreement signed Friday, an unspecified number of RCMP officers will be sent to Colombia to help train police in human-rights issues and to help in the fight against drug-trafficking and money-laundering, Axworthy said by telephone from Cartegena. The agreement calls for Canada and Colombia to "exchange experiences and practices" to deal with drug-trafficking, the chemicals used to produce illicit drugs and money-laundering. The two countries will also co-operate on promoting treatment and rehabilitation for Colombians affected by the drug trade. Axworthy said: "It was a very moving experience yesterday, when we attended a street project funded by the Canadian Embassy here in which young people ages 10 or 12 who had been on the streets for years were being given a chance to establish a new life, to have confidence in themselves. Those are the small projects but boy do they ever have a powerful impact." "You only have to meet this group of 20 or 30 children who for the first time in a long time had some smiles on their faces." Axworthy said Canada will provide an as-yet undetermined amount of funding for more community programs designed to wean Colombian youth away from the drug culture and retrain them. He said the Canadian International Development Agency is reviewing its programming in Colombia, where it spends about $15 million to $20 million a year already. Canada also contributes to UN programs in Colombia. Axworthy said Canada hopes to be able to help with negotiations between the Colombian government and guerrillas to end a civil war that has gone on for more than 30 years and has killed an estimated 35,000 people and created 1.2 million refugees. He said the Canadian contribution would be similar to its efforts in Northern Ireland, where Gen. John de Chastelain heads the disarmament commission to dispose of weapons of paramilitary organizations. Axworthy said Canada also hopes to provide expertise on conflict-resolution in reintegrating guerrilla fighters back into civilian life. "You've got people on the other side, in the guerrillas, who've been up in the mountains for 20 or 30 years. They don't know what the world is outside. ... How do people get reintegrated, how do they demobilize?" He said Canada has an interest in building a secure environment in Colombia. He noted he had discussions with Canadian businessmen who said they consider Colombia an attractive place to invest but are prevented from doing so by the unrest. He noted the suspected Colombian guerrilla kidnappers who held seven Canadian mining company workers for ransom in Ecuador last year still have not been caught or positively identified. Canada's approach differs from that of the United States. Earlier this week U.S. President Bill Clinton offered Colombia $1.6 billion in largely military aid to help fight the drug war. But Axworthy insists the Canadian effort is "complementary" to the U.S. effort. "The U.S. effort is very strongly oriented toward the military side, while Canada is working on the civil side, on human rights," Axworthy said. Cartagena, Colombia (CP)Newshawk: Chris CampbellPublished: January 15, 20000Copyright  2000, Canoe Limited Partnership. Related Articles:Fighting in Colombia Leaves 50 Dead - 1/15/2000 Training Boosts Colombia's War on Drug-12/31/99 Statement on U.S. Support for Colombia - 10/15/99 Colombian Drug Smugglers Hold Tech Advantage - 11/14/99 
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Comment #2 posted by Chris Campbell on January 16, 2000 at 21:55:04 PT:
more positive role
I don't think helping columbia build a solid, democratic infrastructure is a bad thing. It's $1.6B black helicopters that should be left at home. Black helicopters are not a good way to promote democracy.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on January 16, 2000 at 13:36:04 PT
(Uh) Oh, Canada!
I've said it before; insanity does not respect national borders.IMHO, it's laudable that Canada offer her services as a peacemaker. But I remember such debacles as the attempt to enforce the DMZ in Vietnam in the Seventies after the US pulled out. And much more recently, when Canada went into Somalia with the US, the Canadian airborne troops 'had a bad time of it' - and there are still a lot of bad feelings about what happened in Somalia going 'round, up there.I generally think that in matters of foreign affairs, the Canadians are generally a good bit smarter than us, but this time, this 'me,too-ism' could wind up costing her. Because now, she's going to step into the same sewer hole/quicksand that the US is barely skirting already.Is that what Canadians want? Or (as you you so often have from the past) can you learn from the US's mistakes?
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