US Aid to Peru Has Been Economic, Not Military

The Opinion page article "The Wrong War in Peru," May 29, is highly inaccurate regarding our government's drug policy in that country. The authors' contention that the United States is pursuing a "militaristic" counternarcotics strategy in a country that desperately needs economic help simply ignores the facts. The Bush administration has requested more than twice as much economic assistance than it has for military support for Peru for fiscal year 1992. And more than half of all counternarcotics aid for

Peru in fiscal year 1991 came in the form of economic support funds.

The notion that the modest sums of law-enforcement and military resources we have extended to Peru have actually helped the vicious Shining Path insurgency is pure demagoguery. The US policy has been to strengthen Peru's economy and build the appropriate law-enforcement infrastructure to deal with the cocaine threat while leaving the Shining Path to the Peruvian government.

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The authors' suggestion that we abandon our counternarcotics efforts in Peru, because the coca crop is simply too big and our prospects are dim, is irresponsible and ultimately dangerous. Well-organized and -financed cocaine cartels would certainly try to move in and exploit the situation, resulting in more cocaine products for shipment to the US. I doubt the authors would advocate that the US spend less money on prevention and treatment programs, because America's addict population is too big. Neither w ould the Bush administration.

The sheer volume of potential coca-leaf production demands that the US government continues to help Peru with its serious counternarcotics problems, even as the US and other countries of the region work to bring the Fujimori government back to democracy. Our goal must not be to support a drug-free dictatorship - it is to encourage a free, democratic Peru that fights drugs. Richard E. Porter, Washington Director, Office of Nat. Security Affairs Office of National Drug Control Policy

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