Columbian president pleads for more aid
BOGOTA, Colombia – Facing skeptics in the new Democratic-led U.S. Congress, President Alvaro Uribe pleaded with the American public on Thursday to continue a $700 million annual aid package that he credits for making his violence-tortured nation more peaceful and less corrupt.”I ask the world, I ask the United States, to support us. We haven’t yet won but we are winning. And we will persist,” Uribe said in an interview with The Associated Press three days before his friend and close ally President Bush arrives for a visit.The trip comes as many of the Democrats who won control of the U.S. congress in November elections express doubts about the effectiveness of nearly $4 billion in mostly military aid to Colombia since he took office in 2002.The Bush administration wants the aid package to continue in its present form.There is scant evidence that the assistance has diminished drug trafficking – Colombia remains responsible for more than 90 percent of the world’s cocaine production – and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has neither been defeated nor had any members of its leadership captured.Uribe said U.S. aid remains crucial in helping Colombia end a half-century of lawlessness and corruption.Skeptics should ask “what would have happened to our country without Plan Colombia … It would be an immense error, in an effort that is being won, to abandon it and leave it half accomplished,” he added.
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