U.S. Seeks to Send More Anti-Drug Money to Colombia's Neighbors

From Reuters

The Bush administration wants to boost U.S. spending to fight drugs in Colombia's neighbors to $332 million in 2002, according to figures released Wednesday by the State Department.

That amount is part of a $731-million package the department is seeking for its Andean Initiative, the successor to the U.S. contribution to Colombia's plan to crack down on drug production and make peace with its armed rebels. The request, submitted to the Senate Budget Committee, includes $399 million for Colombia, $156 million for Peru, $101 million for Bolivia and about $75 million for four other neighbors--Brazil, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela.

The neighboring countries together received $105 million in regular U.S. aid to fight the drug trade this year. They also received $180 million from a supplemental budget passed in July, to be disbursed over 2000 and 2001.

The total for all seven countries is higher than that for the current year, but the money is now less concentrated on Colombia.

That shift reflects complaints from Colombia's neighbors that a crackdown on coca production in Colombia would be likely to push the problem across their borders.

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