Three big prospective winners in President Bush's drug war strategy next year are the Andean countries that supply much of the world's cocaine.
In the $11.7 billion anti-drug budget Bush proposed Thursday for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, almost $500 million - a 34 percent increase from this year - is to be spent on aid to Bolivia, Colombia and Peru.The plan reflects an overall 11 percent increase, far above the 6.1 percent inflation rate, despite budget pressures caused by the Persian Gulf War and an economic recession.
In general, the strategy follows a previously set multifaceted attack on drug abuse, stressing law enforcement here and abroad while promoting treatment and prevention efforts.
"The strategy is comprehensive," Bush said in a speech to federal workers. "The thrust of our strategy remains the same: cutting down the supply and then suppressing the demand."
Bush said there would be "more resources for cooperative efforts with our Latin American allies who are helping to stop the drug trade at the source."
Unclear, however, how much of this year's aid, much less next year's, might actually be spent. The recipients must first demonstrate solid efforts to eradicate the drug trade. About 57 percent of the 1992 funds, $285.5 million, is for such assistance.
There have been some recent setbacks in the Andean drug war:
-Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori has rejected about $35 million in military aid while seeking increased economic assistance to help wean coca farmers from their lucrative crop. The State Department is considering whether to renew Peru's certification as a country helping to fight the war on drugs. Decertification would mean a substantial cut in aid.
-Colombian President Cesar Gaviria has promised drug traffickers that he will not extradite them to face charges in the United States if they turn themselves in. One who did so was recently freed by a judge after only 44 days in jail.
Among those who have given themselves up are leaders of the Medellin cartel, Jorge Luis Ochoa and his brother Fabio. Both were on Attorney General Dick Thornburgh's list of the top 12 drug traffickers wanted for extradition.
Funds for Peru are being kept in a special account as U.S. and Peruvian officials try to reach agreement on anti-drug plans, said John P. Walters, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. If they reach no agreement, the money will be spent on neighboring countries, he said.
As for Colombia, Walters said the administration is eager to extradite suspected drug traffickers, but it also is helping the Bogota government establish an effective judicial system that can handle its own criminals.
- Domestic law enforcement: $5.1 billion, up 14 percent.
- International and border law enforcement: $2.9 billion, up 8 percent.
- Drug treatment: $1.7 billion, up 10 percent.
- Drug prevention and education: $1.5 billion, up 5 percent.
- Research: $488 million.