January 4, 2002
Editor, Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20071

To the Editor:

     The recent stories in the Post on Colombia (December 30 and 27) asserting problems following the first full year of expanded U.S. assistance to that nation to combat drug trafficking totally missed the real news:  Colombia’s coca crop has decreased by a quarter.  It is highly significant that the world’s leading producer of coca (the raw material of cocaine) and cocaine itself — for years the primary drug associated with violent crime and turf wars in America — has reduced these products by 25% in the first year of a five year concerted plan, according to reliable Colombian government figures.

     I found it amazing that while I was on vacation in Puerto Rico, I read the reports of the Colombian coca reduction in the local papers, but when I returned home to read my stack of Washington Posts, I only found the stories on how bad things are in Colombia without that extremely significant positive development.

     Two and a half years ago, when National Drug Policy Director McCaffrey suggested the Colombia anti-drug aid plan and offered it to President Clinton, the President was highly supportive and announced in a July 1999 Cabinet meeting, “Barry wants a billion for Colombia.”  The ensuing strategy of eradication, economic alternatives, strengthened law enforcement, and support for the judicial process in that nation now is looking effective and powerful, given initial results.  Congress, on a bipartisan basis, has understood the obvious merit, funding Plan Colombia last year and continuing it this year.  It would be helpful if the reporters covering the story would also see the overarching reality.

Robert S. Weiner
Robert S. Weiner,
President, Robert Weiner Associates Public Affairs and Issues;
Spokesman and Director of Public Affairs, White House Drug Policy Office, May 1995-August 2001