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[Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield:] I--I know and admire Juan Manuel Santos enormously. I respect what he is trying to do. He is trying to bring to conclusion a 50-year armed conflict that has killed tens of thousands of Colombian citizens. I not only respect that, I support it and endorse it.
It is my view that it should be possible to pursue those negotiations, to reach that conclusion, without having to walk the clock back to where we were eight or nine years ago in terms of drug cultivation and production in Colombia. It is my view that it should be possible to continue to eradicate or have the threat of eradication so that thousands of campesinos--many of them encouraged perhaps by the FARC guerrillas--don't believe that it's open season on planting as much coca as they might wish.
We have opened a discussion with them. It's a good discussion because these guys are our friends. We have been partners and allies with them now for more than 16 years under Plan Colombia. I don't mean to be critical of them. I mean to state an obvious fact: the amount of cocaine being produced in Colombia has doubled in the last two-plus years. That's kind of a disturbing fact, since most Colombian cocaine traditionally and historically is transported to the United States.
We need to work together to figure how to deal with eradication, which is to say, to stop the actual cultivation; to deal with taking down the laboratories which convert the raw coca into cocaine; to go after the criminal organizations, those organizations--not necessarily the FARC guerrillas but the criminal organizations--that are trafficking the product; and then finally how to interdict the product as it is moving from Colombia to North America; and how to attack their financial networks. It should be possible to do that, I intend to do that, you have my absolute word of honor that there will not be an opportunity of mine, when I'm talking to the government of Colombia, when I don't make this point and have this discussion with them.
[Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee):] But I-- my sense is, just for what it's worth, we missed that opportunity when he was here last. And there was a lot of happy talk here about Plan Colombia. And what I hear you saying--and with all your niceties regarding the government and your friendship with the existing president--is that he's not pursuing both tracks in the way that he could be. That he's pursuing the relationship with FARC in ending what has been certainly a blight on their country for a long time, but he's not pursuing as heavily the issue that has been at the core of this--and that is the production of cocaine in their country that is coming to the United States--in the way that he could.
[Brownfield:] Mr. Chairman, I'm not going to walk that far down this road. I'm going to go back to where I left it before. We are talking. We're moving in the right direction. How we got there, I'm going to leave that to the historians and the people far smarter than me. What I will say is there-- I believe there is now a realization we've got a serious problem. And we are now talking to our friends and partners and allies in the Colombian government as to how to solve this problem. And on that, I feel pretty good. We are all entitled to our own views as to how we got into this situation. The only point that I am making is, I believe we're working on a route out of it. We know how to do it. For the love of Pete, we-- it's what we were doing from the year 2000 until the year 2000-- 2012, 2013 very, very effectively. And I am determined that we're going to do it again. That's the way I would respond to your valid comment.