By Alfa · Jul 18, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    Starve a Peasant, Feed a Terrorist

    For those who oppose the federal government's disastrous war on drugs,
    there are many things to dislike about the Bush Administration, not the
    least of which is its shameless--and dangerous--use of the war on terror to
    prop up the failed drug war and the accompanying $18 billion dollar
    bureaucracy. And there is no indication that four more years of a Bush
    presidency will offer anything but more of the same.

    But anyone who thinks a vote for John Kerry means a vote for a more
    liberalized approach to drug policy should think again. Candidate Kerry's
    choice for Homeland Security Advisor ( ), Rand Beers, is a seasoned drug
    warrior who has already shown his loyalty to the well being of the drug
    war, no matter how many lives it destroys, or how many narco-terrorists are
    enriched along the way. There are currently several drug-warriors serving
    in decision making posts within the Bush Department of Homeland Security;
    ex-DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson ( ) is now Under
    Secretary for Border and Transportation Security. And another ex-DEA chief,
    Robert Bonner (
    ), is Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

    Beers' drug warrior credentials go way back. As he put it in a 2002
    deposition ( ), "I first
    began to work in the counter-narcotics area in 1988 when I was on the
    National Security Counsel staff."

    More recently, before he quit ( ) his Bush White
    House position as Special Assistant ( ) to the President and
    Senior Director for Combating Terrorism and joined the Kerry camp, he
    served in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations' as Assistant Secretary
    of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; the top
    cop and chief apologist for America's w
    ar on drugs in Latin America.

    He is also one of the architects of "Plan Colombia," the multi-billion
    dollar militarization of the drug war in Colombia ( ) (which is now funded as part of
    the "Andean Counterdrug Initiative").

    As Beers continued in his 2002 deposition, "There was a series of strategy
    developments dating back, in terms of my involvement, to a 1999 development
    of a regional strategy for the Andean region. I was involved in the
    development of that strategy, and I had bits and pieces to do with most of
    the further development from a variety of different positions."

    The effects of Beers' proud achievement are worth looking at closely.

    In 1996-'97, the Clinton Administration decertified Colombia as a
    "cooperating" nation in the drug war. To stave off trade sanctions against
    lawful industries and a loss of U.S. foreign aid, Colombia began U.S.
    backed coca-eradication efforts, including slashing and burning on the
    ground and aerial herbicide spraying of coca fields.

    In 2000-'01, the U.S. cranked up financial aid to $1.3 billion and sent
    more CIA and Special Forcers "trainers" and civilian "contractors" to
    assist in further eradication and interdiction efforts. It has thus far
    been a smashing destroying the livelihoods of subsistence
    farmers, which bizarrely enough, Beers considers a victory in the war on drugs.

    In 2001, Colombian peasants claimed that the herbicides the U.S. was
    spraying made them sick; complaining of skin rashes and diarrhea. But Beers
    had his own theory as to why already poor Colombian farmers were
    complaining. "The individuals who are being affected by the spraying are
    being affected economically," he told reporters, "If the spraying is
    successful, it kills their incomes."

    In its "Global Illicit Drug Trends, 2003 ( )" the
    United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime credits U.S. eradication efforts
    with a 37 percent decline in Colombian coca cultivation between 2000 and
    2002. The same report says this reduction came after a five-fold increase
    in Colombian coca production between 1993 and 1999.

    At the same time as the 37 percent decline in Colombian coca cultivation,
    the UN report continues, "Combining the three source countries (Colombia,
    Bolivia and Peru) translates into an overall reduction of 22 percent of the
    area under cultivation between 1999 and 2002." In other words, a reduction
    of Colombian cultivation has led to increased cultivation in other areas.

    In its 2003 narcotics control report ( ) on Peru,
    where the U.S. is also underwriting forced coca eradication, the U.S. State
    Department claims, "According to U.S. Embassy reporting, coca farmers
    received approximately $126 million from buyers for their coca leaf output
    in 2002. This total is only a fraction of the size of the total cocaine
    economy in Peru, which may equal 1.2 to 2.4 billion dollars or more
    annually (or 2 to 4 percent of Peru's GDP). Nearly all of the wealth
    derived from the cocaine economy accrues to narcotics traffickers and other
    criminal elements."

    So while Beers was happily killing the crops (both licit and illicit) of
    Colombian farmers, narco-traffickers and the terrorists who feed off the
    drug trade continued to eat well, simply moving their operations elsewhere
    in response to eradication efforts.

    The 2003 narcotics control report continues about Bolivia: "The successful
    reduction of coca cultivation in the Chapare (down 15 percent) was offset
    by a 26 percent increase in theYungas resulting in an overall increase of
    17 percent..."

    And in Peru: "Due to the potential for social unrest, forced eradication
    was limited to non-conflictive areas" which consisted of abandoned fields
    and parklands while "...the extensive presence of high-density coca
    cultivation in the Monzon and Apurimac/Ene river valleys remains a major

    In the odd world of the drug warrior, this too is considered a victory. In
    2001, General Peter Pace, then Commander of the U.S. Southern Command (the
    U.S. military wing of the drug war) called Plan Colombia "successful" (
    because drug producers are moving their operations elsewhere in Latin America.

    We're just beginning to get a glimpse of the havoc this relocation of drug
    production can wreak on the civil and economic health of other Latin
    American countries, but Beers is ready to turn this, too, to political

    In November of 2001 Beers took his "at any cost" defense of American
    narco-policy to a new level by attempting (and failing) to connect
    Colombian coca and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),
    Colombia's largest communist terrorist group, with al Qaida.

    Beers gave a sworn deposition in a lawsuit filed by Ecuadorian subsistence
    farmers in U.S. Federal Court against DynCorp--a private contractor
    carrying out aerial eradication in Colombia. (Arias, et al. vs. DynCorp ,
    et al.)

    The Ecuadorians claimed that herbicide sprayed over Colombia had drifted
    across the border and damaged both their health and crops. Beers argued ( ) that the case shouldn't go
    to trial because the fumigation program is vital both to the national
    security of the U.S. and the war on terror in Colombia, claiming "It is
    believed that FARC terrorists have received training in Al Qaida terrorist
    camps in Afghanistan."

    The FARC--accurately listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State
    Department--have become wealthy and powerful off the Colombian drug trade
    through protection rackets for coca growers and traffickers, the production
    and distribution of narcotics and control of local coca base markets.
    Beers' theory seemed to be that starving coca growers also cuts off funding
    for the FARC.

    In a later supplemental declaration, Beers recanted the claim ( ) of FARC terrorists training
    in Afghanistan, "I wish to strike this sentence. At the time of my
    declaration, based on information available to me, I believed this
    statement to be true and correct. Based upon information made available to
    me subsequent to the filing of the declaration, I no longer believe this
    statement to be true and correct."

    Exactly what "information" Beers had available at the time of his false
    statements is a source of some mystery. "There doesn't seem to be any
    evidence of FARC going to Afghanistan to train," a U.S. intelligence
    official told UPI ( ). "We have never
    briefed anyone on that and frankly, I doubt anyone has ever alleged that in
    a briefing to the State Department or anyone else." According to a veteran
    congressional staffer: "My first reaction was that Rand must have
    misspoke... But when I saw it was a proffer signed under oath, I couldn't
    believe he would do that. I have no idea why he would say that." The
    "starve an Andean peasant to save an American cokehead" policy Beers
    defends has done nothing to protect the national security of the U.S., but
    rather is creating new political instability and terrorist alliances that
    can only serve to help along narco-terrorism in the Andean Ridge. In Peru,
    the communist terrorist group Shining Path, mostly crushed by Peru during
    brutal civil war in the 1990's is reportedly making a comeback. Beers
    himself, while still serving in the State Department told a 2002 Senate,
    "In 2001 the Shining Path had a slight resurgence in areas like the
    Huallaga and Apurimac Valleys, where cocaine is cultivated and processed,
    indicating the remnants of the group are probably financing operations with
    drug profits form security and taxation services." A February 8, 2002
    Stratfor intelligence brief reported that, thanks to an expanding alliance
    with Colombian drug traffickers and the FARC, "Shining Path is trying to
    re-build its numbers and weaponry by working in the heroin trade. Peru is
    poised to become one of the world's heroin producers.

    According to the 2002 State Department narcotics control report ( ), "There have
    been multiple reports of border crossings by the Revolutionary Armed Forces
    of Colombia (FARC) into Peru. In 2002 there was the first report of gunfire
    being exchanged between FARC forces and the Peruvian National Police.

    The 2002 report continues, "Organized coca growers (cocaleros) in Peru
    staged a number of large protests during 2002, which intimidated the GOP
    into signing agreements to temporarily suspend coca eradication in certain
    regions, as well as to include cocalero representatives in discussions on
    revising Peru's counternarcotics law." It also describes a new Peruvian
    political movement, Llapanchicc, formed in the Apurimac River Valley cocoa
    growing region to defend indigenous farmers against forced eradication

    U.S. drug policy has managed to create the first Peruvian indigenous
    political movement with the defense of coca growing as its central plank.

    Bolivia, which over the past decade vigorously eradicated coca with over $1
    billion in support from the U.S., was considered the lone Latin American
    success story by American drug warriors.

    Until 2002, that is, when the drug war changed the political face of
    Bolivia and Evo Morales, a Fidel Castro clone and the candidate from the
    Movement Towards Socialism (SAM) garnered 22 percent of the popular vote in
    the Presidential race with the backing of Bolivian coca growers, only 4
    percent shy of the winner.

    In 2003, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned and fled to
    the U.S. amidst violent protest. While the civil unrest that led to his
    leaving was partly due to income taxes and a natural gas export plan, it
    was also partly due to what columnist Robert Novak called, "The backlash to
    U.S.-sponsored coca eradication ( ) in

    In any event, what is undisputed is that coca cultivation is back on the
    rise in Bolivia, growing almost as quickly as anti-U.S. sentiment towards
    forced eradication policies. (Cultivation is up 17 percent in 2002
    according to the 2003 State Dept. narcotics control report.)

    If policy makers were tasked with making a plan to ensure widespread
    instability, corruption, lawlessness and a steady flow of illegal wealth
    for narco-terrorists, they would be hard pressed to come up with a policy
    more successful than that already in place in Latin America.

    That American drug-warriors are already in place in the new Homeland
    Security department should be worrisome enough. After all, American style
    liberty and the bill of rights are generally viewed as pesky impediments to
    the drug war mission, and counter-terrorism as secondary to the well being
    of the bureaucracy.

    But that the presidential challenger intends to place at the top of the
    Homeland Security bureaucracy a key architect and defender of a failed,
    cruel, destructive war on some of the poorest people on this planet is
    especially depressing. Those trying to decide who to vote for based on what
    the next four years of drug policy may bring will find themselves in much
    the same position as a Colombian subsistence farmer--somewhere between a
    rock and a hard place.

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