Colombia's Peace Plan

COLOMBIA'S strategy to induce the surrender of its most violent drug barons is bearing fruit. Last week the No. 2 man in the notorious Medell'in drug cartel, Jorge Luis Ochoa, surrendered to Colombian authorities. The government has promised traffickers who give themselves up and confess to at least one crime that they will be prosecuted in Colombia and not be extradited to the US. Mr. Ochoa's younger brother, also a member of the cartel, took advantage of the offer a month earlier. There are reports that Colombia's most-wanted man, Medell'in chief Pablo Escobar, is also thinking about surrendering.

These developments are obviously good news for the Colombian people. For them, the war on drugs has principally been a war to end violence that threatened the very stability of their government. In recent years, Colombia has been swept by a wave of savage bombings and murders targeted at the nation's political, judicial, and law-enforcement leadership.

Strenuous efforts by police and military forces, which achieved the shootout death of one drug kingpin and the arrest of others, together with the new extradition policy, appear to be restoring peace and curbing the traffickers' threat to security and public safety.

Unfortunately, the production and export of cocaine in Colombia will continue by other, presumably less violent, traffickers, including the quieter but notably efficient Cali cartel.

Thus Bogota is realizing its foremost goal in the drug war, while Washington's chief objective - to cut down the flow of cocaine into the US - may be little affected by Colombia's policy. This shouldn't cause friction between the two governments, however. For foreign policy reasons, as well as out of sympathy for the terrorized people of Colombia, Americans should welcome the success of Bogota's ``peace plan.''

The effort to reduce drug use in the US is essentially a domestic challenge. Cutting the supply from other countries is desirable, but America's war on drugs - which hinges on lowering demand - must be waged primarily within its own borders.

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