|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Colombia military chief expects war with drug traffickers
BRASILIA (Reuters) -- Colombia's armed forces chief, Gen. Fernando Tapias, said a U.S.-backed intensification of its war on drug traffickers and rebels marked "a point of no return" in the country's peace process.
In an interview published Sunday in Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, Tapias said that the U.S.-backed "Plan Colombia" would force Marxist guerrillas to end their three decades of struggle by eroding their main source of income: the lucrative drug trade.
"What is clear: there will be peace, but first there will be war," Tapias said.
"I would say that Plan Colombia creates a point of no return in the peace process," said Tapias. "With Plan Colombia, there will be a radical reduction in financing from drugs. They will have to accept a negotiated solution from the government."
President Clinton arrives in Colombia Aug. 30 to show support for Colombia's struggle to slash cocaine production and free up to 50 percent of the war-torn Andean country from the control of rebel guerrillas.
Clinton's trip to Colombia, the first by a U.S. president in a decade, comes after he signed a law in July that gives $1.3 billion for U.S. aid to fight drugs and rebels in Colombia.
In a separate Folha interview published Sunday, Raul Reyes, the chief negotiator for the country's biggest rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), said rebels were preparing for the worst conflict in Colombia's history.
"If they implement the Plan Colombia in practice they will have the worst conflict that this country has ever seen. And we will be ready for it," said Reyes, a senior FARC commander.
But Tapias said he doubted that the level of violence in Colombia would worsen. The last ten years has left 35,000 dead.
"The guerrillas and the paramilitary (forces) are already doing everything they can," Tapias said. "With or without Plan Colombia, things are not going to get worse."
Both U.S. and Colombian authorities accuse the rebels of raising up to $500 million per year from the drug trade. U.S. officials estimate that 90 percent of the cocaine that turns up the United States originates in or passes through Colombia.
Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
U.S. oil company to drill on Colombia land claimed by Indians
Drug Enforcement Administration
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.