Copyright 1998 Federal Document Clearing House, Inc. 
FDCH Political Transcripts

March 31, 1998, Tuesday











GILMAN: The committee will come to order. 

I'd like to, along with my colleague, Mr. Hamilton, extend a warm 
welcome to our newest member, the gentle lady from California, Mrs. 

CAPPS: Thank you.

GILMAN: Lois Capps brings to our committee a devotion to public 
service that's dedicated to helping people improve their everyday 
lives. It includes more than 20 years of service in education and in 
health care. 

Trained as a nurse at Pacific Lutheran University at Tacoma, 
Washington, Mrs. Capps earned a master's degree in religion at Yale 
University while serving as head nurse at Yale, New Haven Hospital. 

She learned earned a master's degree in education at the University 
of California at Santa Barbara. Her training and experience in child 
development and health care provide a special perspective to our 

We look forward to working with her on these and other issues as 

We are pleased that she has elected to join our committee and to 
fulfill the good experience and history and activity of her former 
husband, who was a member of our committee, who we sorely miss. 
Welcome, Mrs. Capps. 

CAPPS: Thank you.


GILMAN: Mr. Hamilton.

HAMILTON: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I just want to join 
you in welcoming to the committee Lois Capps. We are delighted to 
have her here, as we were delighted to have her husband here, 

I think you have pretty well run down her biography so that we are 
reasonably well acquainted with her. But I think it is important to 
note that for many years, she served as an educator and as a nurse 
and a teacher, dedicated herself to public service. She was of 
enormous help to her husband, Walter Capps, and worked very hard 
to improve the lives of the people on the Central Coast, their families 
and their children. 

She and her family have been very much in our thoughts and in our 
prayers in recent months. She and they have made and are making a 
remarkable contribution in this town and in the country. She is a 
very remarkable lady, and we are delighted to have her on the 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Hamilton. Mr. Bereuter. 

BEREUTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Hamilton, I join you in the sentiment of expression of welcome to 
our colleague from California. I have gone up personally to say how 
pleased I am she has joined us here in the committee, and how much 
I know she'll continue to do the good work her husband was doing 
with us. Welcome. 

CAPPS: Thank you.

GILMAN: Any other members seeking recognition? If not, Mrs. Capps. 

CAPPS: Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, those of you who have 
spoken, Mr. Bereuter, Mr. Hamilton, I'm very touched by your 
welcome, and I will briefly say that it is such a pleasure and a real 
honor to be sitting here today.

I can't tell you how much it means for me to be able to fulfill 
Walter's term of office, particularly to be sitting on this esteemed 
committee, which he held in such high regard.

I want to thank especially the chairman, Mr. Gilman, ranking 
member, Mr. Hamilton, as well as the chairman and ranking 
members of Walter's subcommittees, Mr. Bereuter, Mr. Berman, Mr. 
Gallegly, and Mr. Ackerman. 

This committee addresses issues of great importance to our country. 
Today's hearing on narcotics policy reflects the urgency of the tasks 
before us. And my experience for 20 years bears witness to that 
urgency. I eerily anticipate the challenges that lie ahead in our work 

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: Thank you, Mrs. Capps. And again, we hope you'll enjoy the 
work of our committee, and I'm certain that you will be an asset to 

We begin today the second in a series of hearings on our United 
States policy toward Colombia, particularly the war against illicit 
drugs. And today, we hear from the administration as well as our 
good friend, General Jose Serrano, director general of the Colombian 
National Police. General Serrano is world renowned as a fearless drug 

DEA administrator Tom Constantine recently said in a Congressional 
testimony, and I quote Tom: "General Serrano and his men and 
women are heroes in our war on drugs." I fully agree and I'm sure 
our committee agrees, the general is a cop's cop, and we are proud to 
have him with us today.

The raging war that is based upon and financed by narcotics is 
placing the future of Colombia and the stability of the entire region 
at risk. Our own vital national interests and that of the good 
Colombian people who are engaged in the struggle hang in the 

The frightening possibilities of narcostate just three hours by plane 
from Miami can no longer be dismissed. President Clinton's February 
26 certification of Colombia with a national interest waiver was in 
large measure due to the efforts of General Serrano, Colonel Garhajo 
(ph), and the other brave men and women of CNP as they meet 
antinarcotics unit, the Dante (ph).

We must help them do better and even more in the common struggle 
against illicit drugs. And though long overdue, the president's 
certification of Colombia was welcome. There are no longer any 
excuses or any reasons to delay vital counter-narcotics assistance to 
the CNP. We must help all those good, dedicated men and women in 
the fight against the corrosive and deadly narcotics trade, which 
originates in Colombia. 

Following the certification decision, Secretary of State Albright 
summed up what the future of our bilateral relationship should be, 
and I quote Secretary Albright: "The waiver decision is intended to 
lay the groundwork for increased future cooperation and to support 
those in Colombia who are striving to strengthen the rule of law and 
to buttress their embattled democracy." Close quote.

Those were certainly welcome words from the secretary of state. 
And now we look forward to some more concrete action. For 
example, when will we see delivery of the long-overdue Blackhawk 
utility helicopters, at least 12 Huey II upgraded choppers, DC-3 
supply planes, and other vital assistance that's urgently needed by 
the CNP?

As of today, only seven of the entire fleet of 36 EMP Hueys are 
operational for missions. The rest have been shot up or are being 
repaired or have been grounded. And I note our military has 
grounded our own used Hueys that were used in Vietnam as being 
unsatisfactory for operational activities at the present time. I hope 
we are not sending more of the same to Colombia. They need better 
equipment than that. 

They need good assistance now if they are to wage a serious and 
credible war against drugs in the major source nation in our own 
hemisphere. We found now that a recent communique issued by the 
narcoguerrillas just this week declared war on our MEUS operatives 
in Colombia. 

If that's a declaration of war, it certainly spells out the need for our 
being engaged in a war-like response. Helicopters are not an 
insignificant part of that struggle against drugs in Colombia. And as 
General Serrano has said, these choppers are involved in 90 percent 
of the CNP's anti-drug missions.

Colombia is a nation with high-altitude mountains and low plains and 
is larger than Texas and Kansas combined. Mobility is the key to 
victory in any real war on drugs in Colombia, as General Wilhelm 
recently stated himself, and we are pleased the General is here with 
us today. 

However, the enthusiasm with which the certification of waiver was 
received here and in Bogota has been tempered by recent events. 
Earlier this month, the FARC narcoguerrillas killed or captured more 
than 100 members of the Colombia army in the cocaine-producing 
regions of Southwest Colombia.

It was the worst defeat of the Colombia army in what some still 
mistakenly believe is a war driven by ideology rather than by 
narcotics. A subsequent announcement by the triumphant FARC 
commander that they will now also target Americans working in 
Colombia is a measure of how strong and arrogant these guerrillas 
have come to feel. 

They are also targeting American-provided helicopters. And last 
week, they downed two CNP choppers that were on a mission to 
destroy a cocaine laboratory.

In reality, the guerrillas of the FARC and the ELN are nothing but 
common criminals and terrorists. Our own State Department last fall 
officially designated these Colombia guerrillas as terrorist 

In light of these determinations and their targeting of Americans, 
there should no longer be any romanticism about the former leftist 
guerrillas. These groups have kidnaped and held Americans for 
ransom. And just last week, we had four more Americans, including a 
63-year-old retired school teacher.

Along with these individuals, the narcoguerrillas are holding hostage 
the future of our own youth. We will hear later in our hearing from 
the families of some of the hostages, and an American who was held 
for nearly a year by one of the criminal guerrillas. 

What happens in Colombia directly affects our own nation and 
especially our young people. Colombia is a source of more than 80 
percent of the world's cocaine, and 60 percent of the heroine that's 
seized on our streets.

We look forward to today's testimony, which I hope will serve as a 
wake-up call for all of us -- the administration and the Congress 
alike -- as to what's unfolding in Colombia. We'll also learn what 
more must be done to turn things around before it's too late. 

Before turning to our first panel, I welcome any comments that our 
ranking member, Mr. Hamilton, may have.

HAMILTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think you should be 
commended for the hearing that we are having this afternoon. I 
think this is the second hearing, and I understand there are other 
hearings scheduled with respect to Colombia.

I do want to remind you that you made a commitment to me on a 
hearing on a drug certification -- decertification question, and that 
you would set a hearing for such a subject. I understand you and 
your staff are working on a date now. I wonder if the chairman can 
confirm that? 

GILMAN: Yes. We'll be holding a hearing, hopefully, near the end of 

HAMILTON: Well, I appreciate that very much. Returning to the 
Colombian situation, the -- it's a very bad situation. It seems to me to 
get worse every day. They have a wide range of problems, drugs, 
corruption, armed insurgency, human rights violations, very weak 
civilian leadership in the government. Instability there affects 
regional stability. It affects drug production. And as the kidnaping of 
the four U.S. citizens last week demonstrates, it affects the national 
security of our citizens. I think it's time for us to look at our counter-
narcotics policy and to ask ourselves what assistance to Colombia is 
accomplishing. I have a number of questions. Among them are these. 
First is the question of effectiveness. Is our assistance leveraging 
tangible cooperation from Colombia to curb drug production? Is the 
U.S. certification policy, after four straight years of decertification, 
producing positive results? 

Second is the question of end use. Are we getting the kind of 
cooperation on end use monitoring and respect for human rights that 
U.S. law requires? 

Third is the question of sustainability. Is the government of Colombia 
taking steps to curb corruption and provide sufficient resources to 
sustain an effective counter-narcotics program? Does the government 
of Colombia have the personnel to use the assistance we have 
provided, and are intending to provide?

And finally is the question of who is dealing with whom. What are 
the connections between the guerrillas and the drug trade? What are 
the connections between para-military organizations and the drug 
trade? What are the connections between the government and the 
drug trade? 

So, I welcome our distinguished guests this afternoon. I look forward 
to their testimony, and I want to explore with them some of these 

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Hamilton. Any other members seeking 

ROS-LEHTINEN: Mr. Chairman?

GILMAN: Yes, Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you so much. I wanted to welcome General 
Wilhelm to our committee hearing. We are so fortunate and blessed 
in Miami to be the new home of SOUTHCOM. It's a wonderful center. 
Along with my colleague, Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, we had 
an opportunity to tour SOUTHCOM just the last week, wonderful men 
and women who will make up that center. 

Of course, it's strategically located in Miami because that's the place 
where you can get the updated information about what is going on, 
especially in the Caribbean. We had a heated exchange, Lincoln and I 
with the General, about the new report that we expect to be coming 
out soon about whether Castro is or is not a threat to the United 

And although we did not agree, I know that we do agree on the fact 
that drugs is a never-ending threat to our national security. And we 
believe Castro's complicity is ever present. And we know that it's 
been a problem for Colombia as well.

But no group of people have valiantly fought against drug traffickers 
as the Colombia people have, and we are very pleased to have 
SOUTHCOM in our community. We are very honored to have General 
Wilhelm here. 

And there will be other times when we will agree more than we had 
this past few days. And I welcome the free exchange of ideas. 
Welcome so much to our committee, General.

GILMAN: Thank you, Mrs. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. 

BURTON: Mr. Chairman?

GILMAN: Our first witness is -- Mr. Burton. 

BURTON: Mr. Chairman, in the other room, we just met with three of 
the wives of the New Tribe missionaries who have been held captive 
down there for five years. And this past week, four more Americans 
-- I believe they were all Americans -- they were down there 
watching birds, were captured. And the guerrillas have sent out a 
memorandum which we are having translated right now which 
indicates that any American that's down there, military or otherwise, 
is in jeopardy.

And it sounds like the guerrillas have declared war on any American 
that's in that vicinity. I hope that the administration and SOUTHCOM 
will give some direction as to how we are going to deal with that. 

It may necessitate some direct involvement if American lives are at 
risk. And whatever pressure needs to be exerted on the 
narcoguerrillas down there needs to be exerted. It's been Beers as 
our first witness, I'd like to recognize in the audience Gustavo Gajon 
(ph), president of the Colombia Commission on Jurists. Welcome, Mr...


GILMAN: Welcome, Mr. Gajon (ph).

Our first witness is Mr. Randy Beers, principal Deputy Assistant 
Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement 

Prior to his position at the Department of State, Mr. Beers served in 
the Marine Corps, the Foreign Service, and on the National Security 
Council. His experience working in the fields of international security, 
counter-terrorism and political-military affairs make him a valuable 
witness for today's hearing.

Mr. Beers, we look forward to your testimony. You may read the 
entire testimony, or you may insert it in the record and summarize 
it, whichever you deem appropriate.

BEERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Hamilton, other 
members of Congress.

I would ask that my statement be submitted to the record, and I'd 
like to make some brief formal presentation.

GILMAN: Without objection, your statement will be made part of the 

BEERS: Thank you, sir.

And thank you again for the opportunity to appear before this body 
and talk about a subject of such importance -- Colombia. And thank 
you and the committee for your support over the years for the 
counter-narcotics program.

As you mentioned, I am recently come to this job. In December of 
1997, I was asked to take on this position after 10 years at the 
National Security Council, serving in three administrations. 

As I took the job, several of my colleagues asked me what I thought 
was the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity in this job. 
And without a doubt, my answer was, and remains, Colombia, as both 
the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity. Let me briefly 

As you all know, over the course of the last year, we learned of the 
great success of our and the national efforts of both Bolivia and 
especially Peru in limiting the amount of cultivation in both of those 
countries, a change that was so dramatic that over the entire Andean 
Ridge, there was a reduction of 100 metric tons of cocaine being 
potentially produced in the course of the last year, or a 15 percent 
reduction overall. 

That said, it is clear that the traffickers have made a strategic 
decision, thwarted in Peru, to move their production to Colombia. 
They have moved and expanded their production in Colombia so that 
even despite a massive effort on the part of the Colombia National 
Police air wing to limit that cultivation, it still expanded by 
approximately 18 percent in the southern area of Colombia.

This situation is compounded further, as you are well aware, by the 
growing nexus of cooperation between the insurgents and the 
narcotraffickers in protecting and transporting that cocaine 
throughout the country.

With this situation, we are, if we do not do something about it, are 
going to find ourselves in a much worse strategic situation in the 
years ahead. Fortunately, there are several important advantages for 
the U.S. in Colombia.

Firstly, we have, as you have mentioned, a police agency within 
Colombia and leadership of that agency that is forcefully committed 
to taking the war on drugs to the narcotraffickers with a strong 
interdiction program. In addition, we have a government of Colombia 
which is prepared to allow aerial eradication as a tool for extending 
this war against the traffickers.

We have a military which is prepared to participate in this effort, 
and we have an intelligence community which has now established 
itself into a useful and contributing member of the fight in the war 
on drugs. 

Based on these considerations, I traveled to Colombia in February to 
discuss future cooperation, and I talked with the CNP, with General 
Serrano, the minister of defense, the representatives of the military, 
with the minister of foreign affairs, and with the minister of justice 
about what cooperation we could look to in the year ahead. And then 
I toured several of the field activities that the police and military are 
undertaking there. As a result of this effort, we -- that is, the United 
States and the government of Colombia -- we, Washington and the 
country team in Bogota, have developed a broad concept of 
operations for moving across the board against narcotrafficking. 

This will involve an expanded intelligence collection effort in 
cooperation between the United States and the government of 
Colombia. It will involve an expanded interdiction campaign both 
busting cocaine laboratories on the ground and going after 
narcotrafficking aircraft in the air in southern Colombia.

It will involve an expanded eradication program both against opium 
poppy and coca, and it will involve expanded efforts to improve the 
justice situation in Colombia with respect both to issues such as 
extradition but money laundering and corruption as well. 

We, the United States and we, the government of Colombia, cannot 
cede Colombia territory, either air or ground, to the traffickers and 
the insurgents. We must contest them in a broad-based effort, using 
our flexibility, our mobility, our technology and sound management 

We must be more effective than the traffickers are. I believe we are 
committed to this process. I believe we have a plan for this process, 
which I am prepared to discuss in more detail. We need essentially 
to increase the operational tempo of our activities in Colombia. 

We have budgeted for fiscal year 98 and notified to Congress a $30 
million budget for Colombia. I am here today to tell you, frankly, that 
that is an inadequate budget for Colombia. We need a larger budget 
for Colombia. We need at minimum another $21 million to maintain 
the momentum, to deal with the traffickers in Colombia, in order to 
maintain the level of eradication at 50,000 hectares, which is what 
we sprayed last year, in order to be able to go after both opium and 
coca in the field and in order to expand our interdiction effort.

GILMAN: Mr. Beers, let me interrupt you a moment. Have you made 
a request for that additional fund?

BEERS: I would like to come and see you and explain to you how we 
intend to do that. But let me start by saying, sir, that this expanded 
effort is constrained by the earmark for the Blackhawk helicopters, 
which you have placed into the record.

GILMAN: Well, we'll get...

BEERS: As the secretary explained to you earlier, there are other 
alternatives, and we would like to come and talk with you about that 
and begin to discuss how we can deal with this problem and 
accomplish both of our objectives, because we do share the objectives 
behind which you stood when you put forward this Blackhawk 
earmark. And we do need your assistance in this process. We cannot 
do it. The administration cannot do it without the cooperation of the 

Let me end there and leave the floor to my colleague, or however 
you wish to proceed, Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Beers. And we'll get to questions 
after both panels are finished.

We now hear testimony from General Charles Wilhelm, Commander-
in- Chief of our U.S. Southern Command. Prior to his appointment in 
September of 1997, General Wilhelm served our nation as 
commander of the various forces in the United States Marine Corps 
and has received many decorations for his distinguished service.

Having recently returned from Colombia, I am certain that General 
Wilhelm will be able to offer us some keen insights. General Wilhelm, 
welcome to our committee. You may proceed. You may put your full 
statement in the record or summarize, whichever you may deem 

WILHELM: I have a brief opening statement that I would like to 
make, Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: Without objection.

WILHELM: Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the 
committee, I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you to 
discuss United States narcotics policy for Colombia and the current 
security situation in what I consider to be the most threatened 
country in the United States' southern command area of 

The timing of this hearing could not be more appropriate. The events 
of the past month have brought into clear focus the growing strength 
of insurgent forces in Colombia, and the inability of Colombia security 
forces to answer their challenges.

The unfavorable outcome of the major engagement between the 
Colombian army and elements of the FARC, southern front near LBR, 
in the Choco (ph) department and the recent spate of kidnapings 
involving Americans, are alarming indicators of just had badly the 
situation has deteriorated. 

While the current tactical picture is bleak, I am encouraged by the 
recent policy decision to grant a national interest waiver to Colombia. 
This decision can open the doors for better, more comprehensive and 
more effective security support to the security forces of Colombia as 
they attempt to regain the initiative.

I have just returned from a visit to Colombia, during which I 
discussed the current situation at length with our new ambassador, 
Curt Kamman and spent considerable time with the commander of 
the armed forces, General Bonne (ph), touring recent areas of conflict, 
surveying coca production in the southern departments, discussing 
planned operations and the intelligence, training and equipment 
support needs of the armed forces. 

As a prelude to your questions, I would like to provide the 
committee my personal assessment of the current situation in 
Colombia and some of my thoughts about the approaches we should 
take to assist the government of Colombia and its security forces in 
reasserting control and governance over the countryside.

The problems confronting the government of Colombia are numerous, 
complex and in many cases, they are intertwined. They are 
simultaneously confronted with an active, growing and increasingly 
violent insurgency and expanding narcotics industry and brutal 
paramilitary organizations, which are wreaking havoc on the civilian 

In combination, these elements have abridged governance in about 
40 percent of the rural countryside, distorted and damaged the 
national economy, displaced significant portions of the population, 
and created security emergencies for each of the five countries with 
which Colombia shares a common border.

Colombia is ill-prepared to effectively counter these threats, due in 
part to weak national leadership and an overloaded, often corrupt, 
judicial system, and, in part, due to the ineffectiveness of its security 

Although senior officials of the government of Colombia have sought 
to establish a peace process, few believe they are in a strong enough 
position to reach any acceptable accords. Thus far, the insurgents 
have rejected offers to begin a dialogue, and at this point, I see little 
hope for a negotiated settlement.

As the impasse continues, the government of Colombia has little if 
any presence in large, rural sections of the country, has been unable 
to bring economic and infrastructure development to these regions, 
and has not provided alternatives to coca and poppy cultivation. 

This lack of control has opened the door for the cultivation of illicit 
narcotics on a huge scale. In fact, recent surveys indicate that the 
vigorous eradication efforts in the Guaviare department have been 
more than offset by new growth in the Putumayo and Cocata (ph) 

The performance of the Colombia military to date provides little 
cause for optimism that they will be able to reverse the erosion of 
government control over the outlying departments. To the contrary, 
the weak performance of the military gives the government little 
leverage in their attempts to reach a negotiated settlement with the 

Absent incentives to negotiate, FARC and ELN spokesmen are 
becoming increasingly strident in their demands for the government 
to cede control of large areas where their fronts now hold the upper 
hand. Having briefly defined the problem, I would now like to 
discuss some possible solutions. 

My focus will be on the military side of the equation. Our analysis of 
Colombia security forces is based on a review of their doctrine, their 
organization, training and equipment, and its adequacy to 
successfully counter the alliance of convenience between the 
narcotraffickers and insurgents.

As we see it, the primary vulnerability of the Colombia armed forces 
is their inability to see threats, followed closely by their lack of 
competence in assessing and engaging them. 

In the near term, intensified assistance and intelligence collection 
and analysis, command and control, operational level planning, small 
unit training, and aviation maintenance can bring about a significant 
and positive change in the capabilities and performance of the 
Colombia security forces.

For the mid-term, we will need to look at the physical capabilities of 
the forces themselves. During my recent visit, I received a needs 
assessment from my military group in Bogota, and then I discussed 
this in some length with General Bonne (ph).

Based on their analysis, the combat deficiencies of the Colombia 
armed forces reside primarily in seven areas: Mobility; direct attack 
capabilities; night operations; communications systems; intelligence 
systems; the ability to operate in rivers and coastal regions; and the 
ability to sustain their forces, once committed. 

I am reviewing the assessment and though I am not in full 
agreement with the priorities that have been assigned, I think they 
have correctly identified the deficiencies themselves.

For the long term, we at U.S. SOUTHCOM are working with Colombia 
military leaders to build a stronger base of professionalism within 
their armed forces and an enduring code of military ethics. We will 
achieve this through military-to-military contacts, the international 
military education and training program, small unit exchanges, battle 
staff training, and through Colombia's participation in joint and 
multi-lateral exercises.

In conclusion, as I look at the Andean Ridge, I see a study in contrast. 
On one hand, we have Peru, which has made steady and measurable 
progress against the dual threats of insurgencies and 
narcotrafficking. On the other, we have Colombia, which has not.

My staff is completing a side-by-side analysis of the situations, past 
and present, in these two countries. We believe that the results will 
be useful and may provide a set of benchmarks which we and 
Colombia can use as we attempt to reverse the current stream of 

For now, we believe it imperative that whatever we do to assist 
Colombia not be at the expense of Peru and Bolivia, where things are 
going reasonably well for us.

Again, I appreciate this opportunity to appear before the committee, 
and I look forward to your questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and 
members of the committee.

GILMAN: Thank you, General, and thank you, Mr. Beers. We have a 
few questions. I'm sure my colleagues have a few also. 

Apparently, both of our witnesses believe that our own vital national 
interests are at stake in Colombia, especially from the illicit drugs 
down there which are destroying a number of our young people in 
our communities.

If Colombian stability and our common effort in fighting drugs there 
is in our vital national interests, and as the vice president has said, 
illicit drugs have cost our nation over $67 billion in societal costs 
each year, what should we be spending annually in Colombia to help 
the courageous people like General Serrano and others fight our 
fight? Mr. Beers? 

BEERS: Yes, sir. That is a question which can be answered in two 
ways. Firstly, while it is possible to postulate a very large budget in 
order to pursue activities within Colombia, we all are within the 
constraints of an overall United States budget that makes it 
particularly important that we manage and husband our resources 

We have, as I indicated to you at the beginning of this testimony, 
recalculated our current budget level for Colombia with the narcotics 
section in Colombia. And we believe that we can perform the mission 
of both maintaining and expanding the current program in Colombia 
with approximately $51 million for that section. 

In addition to that, we have approximately $20 to $25 million which 
come out of our air wing, which produce additional support for that 
Colombia program, and we have other programs in terms of training 
which amount to about $5 million.

So, what I'm telling you at this particular point, sir, is that for what 
we believe is approximately $75 to $80 million, we can offer you a 
prudent, managed, but forceful program in Colombia. 

GILMAN: Well, Mr. Beers, how much are we spending then today in 

BEERS: In fiscal year 98 or 97, sir?

GILMAN: The most current year. How much have we spent for the 
entire year? 

BEERS: In the year to date, sir?


BEERS: We have...

GILMAN: No, in the last year, which is a full year. 

BEERS: Well, that's why I asked you. I can give you a full fiscal year 
total for fiscal year 97, which is the last complete... 

GILMAN: How much was that?

BEERS: ... fiscal year. We spent approximately $90 million during that 
fiscal year, sir.

GILMAN: For all of the...

BEERS: And that included...

GILMAN: Is that for all of the counter-narcotics programs? 

BEERS: That is for all of the counter-narcotics programs and that 
included $14 million in a 506 draw-down, and that included about 
$20 million in pipeline FMF programs from prior years. So, while I 
tell you that that amount of money was about $90 million, I'm telling 
you that out of that monies, approximately $35 were extraordinary 
expenditures, which came above and beyond the ENL budget.

GILMAN: Do you know how much the FARC takes in in one month 
from their trafficking in drugs?

BEERS: The FARC, sir?


BEERS: No, sir. We estimate that they receive approximately a third 
of their subvention from the narcotrafficking trade, and we estimate 
that in the tens of millions of dollars, sir. But I can't tell you a precise 

GILMAN: It's been estimated, I think by some of our intelligence 
people, that that's about $100 million in one month that the FARC 
receives from the drug trade. And we're spending $90 million for the 
entire year in trying to combat this drug trade.

It seems to me we are a little bit out of whack. And I'm very much 
concerned. When we were trying to find out why the State 
Department was withholding support for giving them the Blackhawk 
helicopters and some of the other equipment, we couldn't fathom 
what the resistance was. And now, in the Washington Post this past 
Saturday, March 28, I'm reading from that article by Dana Priest, 
who said, "Officials in the State Department which have been cautious 
about increasing U.S. involvement in one of the world's most violent 
countries, are skeptical and recently opposed the transfer of three 
Blackhawk helicopters to the Colombia National Police." And the 
quote says, "we are really not interested in getting sucked into this," 
said a State Department official. Can you comment on that kind of a 
response for the (OFF-MIKE)

BEERS: Yes, sir, I can. It's a total misquote. It couldn't possibly be 
correct because they have mixed counter-narcotics assistance with 
the question of assistance to the insurgency. 

And there is no lack of support within the administration or within 
the Department of State for assistance with respect to counter 
narcotics for the government of Colombia.

We, the administration, and you, the Congress, may have some 
differences or questions about what particular programs or what 
particular pieces of equipment might be the appropriate amount. But 
with respect to the commitment to support the counter-narcotics 
efforts in Colombia, there is no difference between the 
administration and the Congress, sir. 

GILMAN: Well, this comment was made in response to our request 
for the Blackhawk helicopters, Colombian National Police. And I 
would hope that you would straighten out anyone in the State 
Department who feels that we shouldn't become involved in trying to 
do something about the narcotics trafficking in that country.

We've long advocated getting the CNP some good Blackhawk utility 
helicopters to help do a better fighting job on drugs in Colombia. And 
I've faced inexplicable State Department resistance to that effort. 
And that's why we were concerned about that kind of a response. 

The newest American hostages, four or five, taken by the 
narcoguerrillas last week, we understand are possibly being held in 
the San Juanito mountain area above 10,000 feet in the Andes. 
Colombian police have no helicopters that can safely even attempt to 
rescue with enough armed troops in that high altitude.

Can you tell us what plans, Mr. Beers, we have to help get our 
Americans out of there? We have some of the families here today 
who are very much concerned. It's been five years that some of them 
have not had any information about their missing.

BEERS: Yes, sir.

GILMAN: I'd address that to both you and General Wilhelm, if 
General Wilhelm can provide us with any information on what could 
be done. 

BEERS: Let me begin, and General Wilhelm can add if he wishes to. 

Sir, with respect to the various hostages which have been taken, as 
you are aware, there are three hostages which are held who were 
members of the New Tribes missionary program. With respect to 
those, while we have asked repeatedly of the Colombian government 
for any information which they have, we still do not have any 
information with respect to their presence. We continue to ask for 
that information, and we are working with the government of 
Colombia. With respect to the other hostage who has been held, while 
we -- that is, the United States government -- do not engage in 
negotiations for hostages, we are assisting the family in their own 
efforts to get back their loved one.

With respect to the new hostages who were taken over the course of 
the last two weeks, we do not -- we do not, I repeat -- have any 
information about where they are located, although we do have 
information that there have been discussions with them by various 
non- governmental organizations who are seeking to gain their 

At this particular point in time, were there to be a location of those 
hostages and were we and the government of Colombia to choose to 
proceed, it is my understanding that the government of Colombia 
would probably use the military and would probably use the 
capabilities that the military have to pursue that, which are at any 
altitude, adequate to deal with that problem, sir.

GILMAN: General Wilhelm, do you have some comments about the 
hostage situation?

WILHELM: Yes, sir. I think your most direct reference was to the four 
hostages who had been loosely referred to as bird watchers and the 
one U.S. property owner who was formerly an employee of one of the 
petrochemical companies in Colombia. I believe those are the ones to 
which you were making reference, sir.

I have been in contact throughout the weekend with Ambassador 
Kamman and we have been following closely the discussions that 
have been taking place within the embassy with representatives 
from the government of Colombia. 

We are prepared to provide advice and assistance as may be 
requested through the State Department and some other support, sir, 
that I cannot discuss in this hearing but could talk with you 

GILMAN: Thank you, General.

Let me ask both of you. What do you think now would be our best 
strategy to try to attack the drug production in Colombia and to try 
to assist those police and military who are trying to do their best to 
reduce the supply? What can be our best strategy in that area? 

BEERS: Sir, I have spent the entire time since I have come to INL, 
working on that very question. And we have, I think, a strategy 
which we are in the process of trying to pursue. It involves basically 
four major elements which I alluded to earlier. First, it involves, as 
General Wilhelm would say, preparation of the battlefield through 
the use of expanded intelligence to locate targets of opportunity, both 
fixed and mobile, that we can go after, using the various elements of 
both the Colombian National Police and the military, if that's 

In addition to that, we foresee, in conjunction with DEA and the 
Colombian military and police, an expanded interdiction campaign, 
which would go both after laboratories, which our intelligence 
agencies working together can locate, and after trafficking aircraft in 
Southern Colombia which are flying from Peru, and from within 
Colombia, moving both cocaine base and cocaine hydrochloride in 

In addition to that, we would like to take the eradication campaign, 
which we have been conducting but at a relatively stable rate against 
opium poppy, and expand it. We agree with you entirely that it is not 
sufficient to simply keep the opium poppy crop stable. We need to 
put a bigger dent in that because you are right; we can argue about 
the numbers of the amount of heroine on the street that's Colombia, 
but there's no question. There's too much of it if there's any of it on 
the street in the United States.

And we want to eliminate that crop over the course of the next 
several years. And by several, I mean three. In addition to that, 
based on the four-fold expansion of our coca eradication effort in the 
course of the past year, we think we can do more. We think we can 
do better, and we think we can expand to areas that we haven't even 
gone after in the past year.

If you look at the effort in the course of the last year, when we 
sprayed 43,000 hectares of cocaine, that was a four-fold increase in 
our pilot effort. It was a eight-fold increase in the number of 
hectares which were sprayed during the course of the last year. 

We know we can do better than that. We cut coca cultivation in the 
area which we sprayed by 25 percent last year. The traffickers 
planted new cocaine in areas that we did not spray. And we and the 
Colombian National Police want to go after those coca areas in the 
year ahead, and we are in the process of making plans in order to do 

In addition, but by no means last, we have a strategy to work with 
the current government and the next government in order to resolve 
our differences over extradition, over money laundering and 
corruption. We believe that this is a program for the future of 
Colombia and the future of the United States, and we welcome your 
help and assistance in moving forward with it, sir.

GILMAN: Well, the Congress is prepared to help, Mr. Beers. We have 
been awaiting some significant request by the administration. Your 
program sounds ambitious. I hope that you will back it up with the 
kind of resources that are needed to implement that program. 

General Wilhelm, on March 12, you appeared before the committee, a 
hearing on oversight of U.S. regional counter-drug efforts, the 
Subcommittee on National Security. And at that time, a question was 
asked of you, General, could you give us an assessment of what the 
disruption in Colombia would mean to Panama, Ecuador and 
Venezuela -- Venezuela and the whole region. And you responded, as 
you may recall, about five nations that share borders with Colombia. 
Would you like to repeat your assessment that you stated to the 
National Security committee? 

WILHELM: Yes, sir, I'd be glad to. As I mentioned, Mr. Chairman, 
members of the committee, in my opening statement, each of the five 
nations which shares a border with Colombia is being stained in one 
size, manner, shape or form by the situation that exists in that 
country right now. 

I would say, in terms of direct involvement, Venezuela is probably 
feeling the pressure more than any other. No less than 12,000 of 
their troops are now arrayed along the border to prevent incursions 
by both narcotraffickers and paramilitaries across the border into 

I would say the second most hard pressed right now is probably 
Panama in the southern Darien province. There, there has actually 
been a loss of life. While the narcotraffickers and insurgents have 
sought sanctuary in southern Panama, they have been pursued by 
paramilitaries who have then actually killed Panamanian citizens 
who they construed to be sympathizers with those that had crossed 
the border.

Ecuador has a relatively small commitment of forces along the 
border, but that's not because they do not place a lot of importance 
on the threat which the situation poses to them. Until their current 
dispute with Peru is ironed out, however, in the Amazon, that will 
command their first attention. And having talked to their military 
leaders, I am very confident that that is, in fact, a very sincere 
appraisal from them. 

Brazil, on the other hand, has really, I think, declared itself over the 
last year. There was a long period of denial in Brazil about having a 
narcotics problem. Now, I think there is full and free 
acknowledgment that the pressure that we have put on the air 
bridge between Peru and Colombia and the effects of our ground-
based radars have forced some of the trafficking over into Brazil, 
again, much of it leaking over from Colombia.

There is concern about the effects of chemicals being dumped into 
the watershed of the Amazon. There are now indications that some 
cultivation has spread from Colombia into Brazil, so this is most 
definitely very much in the minds of the Brazilians.

Peru, on the other hand, has had a good run for the last year. I think 
we all appreciate that, a 27 percent net reduction in coca cultivation 
within Peru; last year alone, 45 percent over the last two years. They 
are pretty much riding, I think, a favorable crest right now, and I've 
probably heard less in terms of overall national anxiety from them. 
Sir, a quick five-country run-down. That's the way I see it, and that's 
the way I've heard it.

GILMAN: Thank you, General Wilhelm. I have exceeded my time. Mr. 

HAMILTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Wilhelm, you are the 
commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in this hemisphere. You have 
recently prepared a report to the Congress on the assessment of the 
Cuban threat to the United States. I know this is a hearing on 
Colombia that's been in the press. I have some questions on 
Colombia. But I wanted to get your judgment on that.

Do you consider the Cuban military in its current form a threat to the 
national security of the United States?

WILHELM: Sir, as I've stated previously, I do not consider the 
current Cuban armed forces to be a threat to the United States. I 
believe in the years since their client status with the Soviet Union 
has lapsed that we have seen a very significant change in the quality 
and character of those armed forces.

In terms of size, their active forces are about half of what they were 
in the decade of the 80's. It is a force that can no longer project itself 
beyond the boundaries of Cuba. I have no indications that Cuba is 
fomenting instability elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere. And in 
fact, we have convincing evidence that as much as 70 percent of the 
effort of the existing forces is being expended on agricultural and 
other self- sustainment kinds of activities.

HAMILTON: So their -- the trend line on the Cuban armed forces is 
diminished in number, diminished in capability, not a threat to 
anybody beyond the Cuban borders. They can't project force. 

WILHELM: That is my assessment, sir. It's a force that maintains 
internal order. It's no longer an offensive force. 

HAMILTON: Turning to Colombia, I'm interested in the whole process 
of decertification. And I'd just like to get your assessment of it. Is it 
working, I guess, is my fundamental question. 

We've kind of, in a kind of peculiar sort of way here, we've 
decertified Cuba for what, three or four years now, whatever the 
time period is, but increased aid while it's been decertified. Now, of 
course, this year I understand the president waived.

But are we producing what we had hoped to produce by the 
decertification process, or has it now become a hindrance to effective 
U.S. policy? 

BEERS: Sir, you are correct in indicating that we have decertified 
Colombia over the last four years. But the first and the last year in 
that process was for the national interest waiver. We only decertified 
Colombia for two of those years fully.

HAMILTON: But aid goes up.

BEERS: Yes, sir. As you well know, the actual terms of the legislation 
are that aid, except for counter-narcotics assistance and some other 
humanitarian forms of assistance, are limited or voted against in the 
development banks. The aid profile which we have been talking 
about over the course of this time frame is aid which we have 
indicated is for counter-narcotics purposes. And the irony of this 

HAMILTON: What I'm really after here is, does this process now help 
us or hurt us in our objectives that all of us share here? 

BEERS: Sir, I would argue that the basis which led us to the national 
interest waiver this year with respect to Colombia is a testament that 
the process has worked for the following reasons. Over the course of 
the last several years, we have stated unequivocally that we do not 
and have not had a problem with the performance of the Colombian 
National Police or those entities within the Colombian government 
who were pursuing the traffickers directly as law enforcement 

We have indicated that we have had some problems, some serious 
problems, with the government, with the senior levels of that 
government, and you're certainly aware of what those problems are. 

HAMILTON: You would like to see us continue this annual exercise of 
either certifying or decertifying Colombia, and then waiving or not 
waiving, on a year-by-year basis?

BEERS: Sir, it is my intention that at this time next year, we will be 
talking about a fully certified government of Colombia, that the 
United States and the government of Colombia will have overcome 
their differences, that the new presidency in Colombia... 

HAMILTON: OK. I -- you've got a lot of optimism there, and I hope 
you are right about it.

BEERS: Sir, this is the reason that I took the job. 

HAMILTON: I've got the picture, sir. I admire your dedication and 
your commitment, and we want to be helpful in your achieving those 

Now, let's talk a little bit about that Colombia government and 
whether or not they have the political will to deal with 

You've had some very curious language in some of your statements. 
You talk about coordination with the Colombian National Police. You 
never talked about cooperation and coordination with the Colombian 
government. It's a very curious way of stating things.

Here we are dealing with the Colombia National Police, the Colombian 
National Police. Now, we know their record is good, and I applaud 
that. But what's not clear to me is that the Colombia national 
government has the political will to deal with the problems in 
narcotics trafficking. And I don't care how good our program is and 
how good you are. If you don't have the cooperation of the Colombian 
government, you're not going to get the job done over a period of 

I am impressed by the fact that the Colombian military budget has 
been decreased by 30 percent. That doesn't impress me as a 
government that is serious about dealing with the problems of the 
guerrillas and the insurgents or the narcotraffickers.

BEERS: Sir, with respect to the government of Colombia, I spoke, as I 
indicated in my opening statement, not solely with the Colombia 
National Police nor with the Colombian military. I spoke to ministers 
of four departments while I was down there.

HAMILTON: I caught your statement, but I also caught your answers. 
And your answers were in connection with the Colombian National 

BEERS: That is correct, sir, and that's why I'm returning to my 
original statement, lest I leave a misimpression with you. 

The certification this year was based on the clear, tangible effort of 
the Colombian National Police last year and the commitment of the 
current government to me, during my meetings in Colombia in 
February, for the rest of the administration of this government. 

We are talking, and we will continue to talk, with the next 
government. We are talking now with the candidates about 
continuing that program with the next government. So, please don't 
misunderstand in the way that I answered the questions that we are 
not talking to the Colombia government. 

HAMILTON: Well, that...

BEERS: ... that they have not indicated to us that they are prepared to 

HAMILTON: And so I ask you the question. Do you think the 
Colombian government has the political will today to fight an all-out 
effort against the narcotics traffickers?

BEERS: I think, at this particular point in time, they have indicated to 
me that they are prepared to do it. We have a change of government. 
We have to reaffirm that with the next government. But that is our 
process in the year.

HAMILTON: You have no doubt in your mind about their political will 
to carry this fight?

BEERS: I have talked with members of the government with respect 
to the expanded program which I have described to you and they 
have indicated to me their commitment to pursue that program. 

HAMILTON: Vigorously. Why are they cutting their defense budget 
30 percent?

BEERS: Sir, I'm sorry. I can't speak to the issue of their defense 
budget. I was talking about the counter-narcotics budget. 

HAMILTON: Look. You heard the general a moment ago. He said they 
don't control a large part of the country. The insurgents, the 
guerrillas, are stronger today than they've been for a long time. 

This country is falling apart. It's coming apart. And they cut their 
budget 30 percent for defense. That doesn't make any sense to me at 
all, absolutely no sense. And I don't understand it. 

BEERS: Sir, I can't disagree with you on that. I don't understand it, 
either. General Wilhelm has a comment on this. 

WILHELM: Sir, I think we see fractional commitment in Colombia. 
General Jose Serrano, sitting right over here, he's committed. General 
Jose Bonne (ph) is committed.

I would tell you that I don't think the national leadership is. General 
Bonne (ph) took pen in hand and wrote a military strategy which is 
tied to nothing. There is no national strategy that states that it is an 
objective of the government of Colombia to defeat the insurgency or 

He took the bull by the horns. Of course, when you write a military 
strategy that doesn't support a national strategy, you've got no 
resource hooks to hang anything on. So, it's a nice, philosophical 
document which contains some good ideas. And I think it contains 
some good guidelines for the conduct of military forces and 
operations. And I think it provides some good and solid rudder for 
how to maintain or establish and maintain good relationships with 
the civilian populous. 

I think the military, and I think General Serrano and the CNP 
deserve better. And I hope they'll have it after the elections this 

HAMILTON: I hope the State Department can learn something about 
the directness of an answer that you just gave me, General. 


GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired. 

HAMILTON: I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I've got a lot more to say, but 
my time is up.

WILHELM: Mr. Beers has a future and I don't. 


GILMAN: Mr. Burton.

BURTON: What are we doing to help get those hostages out of there? 

BEERS: Sir, as I indicated earlier, we are in regular contact with the 
government of Colombia to develop any information with respect to 
the location...

BURTON: Mr. Beers, Mr. Beers, we just heard very clearly that the 
government of Colombia is not really all that sympathetic to taking 
on the FARC guerrillas down there. And if that's who we're 
negotiating with, we're probably not going to get much accomplished. 

What are we doing, outside negotiating with this government that's 
as corrupt as you can get, to try to get those people out of there if 
they are still alive, and the ones that were just captured? 

BEERS: Sir, in addition to talking to the government of Colombia about 
this, we are also talking with intermediaries who may have some 
access to hostages in order to learn whether or not there is a way in 
order to locate and rescue those individuals. And we are using our 
intelligence assets to supplement that effort.

Beyond that, sir, I can't go into any more detail, but that's the 
breadth of our effort.

BURTON: Well, I'd just like to express my concern that it doesn't 
appear as though this government is really doing much. It just 
doesn't appear to be doing anything but talking.

BEERS: Sir, I've served in the counter-terrorism area for many of the 
10 years that I spent on the National Security Council. And I agree 
with you that trying to get hostages out of any situation is a tough 
and demanding task.

But I have to assure you, sir, that it is not from a lack of effort of our 
Central Intelligence Agency or our State Department or our Defense 


BEERS: ... to protect American citizens around the world. 

BURTON: Well, General Serrano, as has been stated by General 
Wilhelm, is one of those people down there that's expending a lot of 
personnel. A lot of lives are being caught in fire fights down there 
with the narcoguerrillas, with FARC guerrillas. In fact, we had one 
case where over 100 died and a helicopter was shot down. Just 
recently, four FARC -- four of General Serrano's men were butchered 
by the guerrillas. 

The ones that were butchered were butchered because of the 
helicopter in which they were riding. The mini gun, one of the few 
mini guns they had, misfired because it didn't have ammunition from 
the United States. It had ammunition from Portugal and possibly 
South Africa, that was inferior. 

What are we doing to try to get adequate, good, quality ammunition 
down there so that they can have the kind of fire power that's 
necessary to protect their troops when they are in a fire fight? 

BEERS: Sir, we have an open FMF case that will run until it runs out 
in order to supply mini gun ammunition to the Colombian National 
Police. There may have been an instance of procurement by the 
Colombian National Police of some other ammunition. But the case is 
there. It's open. And anytime there's any need for any ammunition, 
it simply needs to be ordered against that open case. And we will 
move it down there as quickly as we can move it down there.

BURTON: So, it wasn't because we wouldn't supply it? It was just 

BEERS: No, sir, it was not because we wouldn't supply it. 

BURTON: What about the mini guns? We have been trying to get 
additional mini guns down there, the chairman of the committee and 
myself for what, a year and a half now?

GILMAN: It's two years.

BURTON: And every time we talk to the State Department about the 
Blackhawk helicopters or the mini guns, they always say, yes, we're 
getting them down there. They are going to go. And they never get 

And regarding the Blackhawk helicopters, you indicated a while ago 
that you've got some concern about the funding. There was $16 
million -- we upped the budget request by $16 million, and then we 
took $25 million out of the Bosnia authorization for those 
Blackhawks, so the money should be there for those three 
Blackhawks. It doesn't need an additional -- any additional funding. 
And the mini guns should get down there. 

I mean, the weapons that they are using on the side of those -- you 
were shot at, I understand, just recently, when you were down there 
in a Huey. And the weapons that they have on the side of those 
Hueys -- and I've been in them myself -- are not nearly as accurate 
as the mini guns. Why in the world wouldn't we want to get the mini 
guns down there so that we can be effective in those fire fights with 
the guerrillas, and also, why aren't we going to get the Blackhawks 
down there? 

BEERS: Sir, I was not shot at in a helicopter. There were helicopters 
that were shot at, but I'm -- please don't... 

BURTON: Well, I'm happy.

BEERS: I've served in Vietnam. I just -- I'm not trying to take credit 
for having been in a fire fight, sir.


BEERS: That's all. With respect to the mini guns, let me tell you, I 
have been wringing the neck of my staff since I determined that this 
problem existed. And I am no happier with this situation than you 

But let me tell you what we are doing and what we intend to do in 
order to solve that problem. First of all, we have open-end FMF case 
to repair the 15 miniguns that were in the Colombian National Police 
fleet. We have repaired, unfortunately, only six of them. We have 
located in the last month the parts which are being ordered now to 
repair the remaining nine. 

In addition to that, because we were not satisfied with the fact that 
procuring these parts for obsolete mini guns was becoming such a 
problem, INL transferred some money to the Defense Department 
and ordered 10 new mini guns in November, approximately, of 1997. 

To date, four of those -- excuse me, 12. To date, four of those mini 
guns have been delivered and mounted on air wing aircraft. We 
expect to receive another six. I was told on Monday that it would be 
Monday or Tuesday. I come down here, having called just before I 
get here, and I can't report to you that they are yet delivered.

But let me tell you, sir, we will take those six mini guns that belong 
to the INL air wing and we will make a decision, consulting our 
lawyers to make sure that we are complying with the law. And we 
will put those mini guns on the CNP helicopters if that is the highest 

I won't ask them to fly. I won't ask pilots for INL to fly without 
adequate protection. And I am committed to that and I am not 
satisfied with where we are. And I intend to be able to report to you 
in the next 30 days exactly what the disposition of those weapons 
are. BURTON: One last question, Mr. Chairman. I see my time has run 
out, and I guess you have addressed the Blackhawk helicopter 
question earlier. I hope you'll keep that in mind because there are a 
number of us who are still concerned about getting those three 
additional helicopters down as you know, because of the legislative 
action we have taken. We have heard that there are Russian advisers 
in Colombia. And this is a question for General Wilhelm. And they are 
assisting the FARC in training. Is it possible they are former KGB or 
Russian military now entering Colombia disguised as businessmen or 
maintenance personnel for the MI-17 helicopters sold to the 
Colombians, and acting in the capacity as advisers to the FARC 

WILHELM: Sir, there are certainly technicians from Russia who are 
there to assist with the maintenance of the MI-17s that the 
Colombians bought. The only thing that I've heard about advisers or 
anyone who has direct involvement with any of the insurgents of the 
narcotraffickers has only been rumor and hearsay. I have seen no 
responsible intelligence reporting that would lead me to believe 
that's correct. 

BURTON: Well, since that is a concern, I hope that the DIA and the 
CIA will use their resources to find out if that's true. Because we are 
assisting Russia a great deal with economic and every other kind of 
support right now. We certainly don't want Russian military people 
down there helping the narcoguerrillas.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Burton. Mr. Menendez. 

MENENDEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a 
statement for the record I'd like to include.

GILMAN: Without objection.

MENENDEZ: Mr. Chairman, I want to very briefly -- I came here to 
talk about Colombia, but since my dear colleague and friend, Mr. 
Hamilton, raised some questions about the Cuba DOD report, does not 
have the capability of producing biological and chemical weapons? 

WILHELM: I'll see if I can -- I hope I got the question right, sir. 

MENENDEZ: The report says that they don't have the capability of 

WILHELM: OK. I think I know what they are trying to tell us. 

MENENDEZ: Now, the question is -- Is the report also saying they do 
not have biological and chemical weapons ability? 

WILHELM: I think the indications that we have received is they do 
have the capability to produce those kinds of substances, but they 
have not weaponized them.

MENENDEZ: They have not weaponized them. So, if I produce a 
defector to the United States that says to the contrary that DOD will 
consider that in their report as an amendment?

WILHELM: I'm sorry, sir. Would you please repeat that? 

MENENDEZ: If I produce someone who worked at the biological and 
nuclear weapons -- the biological and chemical weapons stations in 
Cuba and that person is proven to be credible and tells you that in 
fact, that they have in fact created biological and chemical weapons, 
not with missile projection ability, the DOD will consider that 
individual testimony? 

WILHELM: Sir, I don't know who they would report that kind of 
information to. You know, I would just offer an observation. Any 
nation with a pharmaceutical industry, and Cuba certainly has that, 
can engage in the production of biological agents or chemical agents. 

MENENDEZ: Well, the suggestion, however, is that -- I think that there 
is a difference between missile projection ability and not having the 
ability to perform biological and chemical weapons. And that's what I 
wanted to clarify with you.

Lastly, is it fair to say that the shoot-down of United States' citizens 
in international air space would be considered an offensive act? 

WILHELM: I would say that it was.

MENENDEZ: Thank you, General.

Now, Mr. Beers, let me ask you a question. While this testimony of 
the hearing has been focused on our counter-narcotics policy, I'd like 
to ask you to speak, if you can, to what I think is a very important 
element of the counter-narcotics policy, which is the forthcoming 
presidential elections in Colombia, the impact of corruption, the 
extent to which threats will affect voter turnout, and ultimately 
whether it's possible to hold a fair and free election in Colombia. 

And the reason I ask you that is based upon your testimony here, 
where you say, and I quote, "we are nearing completion of a new 
ambitious strategy to attack narcotics trafficking in Colombia on all 
fronts. To implement it, we will need the active cooperation of the 
Colombian government, both for the remainder of the Samper 
administration and after the inauguration of a new president in 

And I heard Mr. Hamilton's comments, which I am equally concerned 
about. In the municipal elections last year and in the legislative 
elections earlier this month, the FARC and the ELN narcoguerrillas 
successfully, in my view, asserted themselves, intimidating and 
murdering candidates who are not affiliated with their movements. 
Twelve hundred candidates dropped out of the municipal elections 
for fear of their lives. 

In the March legislative elections, 15 people were killed on election 
day, and the campaign has had allegations of tainted -- of drug 
contributions, as well as allegations of massive voter fraud, in the 
context of registrations.

What I want to know from you is, is it possible, under these present 
set of circumstances, to hold an election upon which we are going to 
base our relationship with the government of Colombia? I'm not 
talking about General Serrano, who I've met and who I've visited and 
who I flew on helicoptrs on. I have the greatest respect for him. 

But for the government of Colombia, can we have a presidential 
election that in fact can be free and fair and that for which we can 
put our policy considerations and decision-making with? Is that -- do 
you believe that this election provides that opportunity? BEERS: Sir, 
with respect to the municipal elections last fall and the elections this 
spring, I believe that the turnout figures were relatively normal for a 
Colombia election, which is not to say that the traffickers didn't seek 
to thwart that election, didn't seek to intimidate candidates, didn't 
bring violence to the election place on an election day.

But I think that with respect to the elections themselves, we judge 
those that are past to have been free and relatively fair. That is not 
to say that there wasn't corruption from the traffickers, as well as 
that. And we are not entirely happy with every individual result or 
any individually elected candidate.

With respect to the elections that still are to come this year, with 
respect to the first round of the presidential election and the second 
round, if that is necessary, the Colombian government, as I 
understand it, as I have talked to them, and General Wilhelm can add 
his own comments to this, are committed to protecting the Colombian 
people with respect to that election. And until that actually occurs, 
we have to -- we can make, I think, a reasonable assumption, based 
on elections to date in the course of the last year, that they stand a 
reasonable chance of being able to protect those elections.

Now, are they going to be perfect? No. They are not going to be 
perfect elections. There probably isn't an election anywhere in the 
world that's entire perfect. But I think that we have here a 
reasonable expectation that it will be. And we have a reasonable 
expectation that the government that comes to power in August will 
be a fair and openly elected -- freely elected government and we 
intend to do everything in our power to make sure that it's a 
government that we can work with. 

MENENDEZ: Well, this is a final follow-up. In 1,200 municipal 
candidates -- you know, an election is also about what you get to 
vote for. It's not only something to vote for, but someone to vote for. 
When 1,500 candidates get out of an election because of what is 
happening, when people die on election day, when thousands of 
Colombian citizens cannot register, are prevented from registering to 
vote, we can have an election. Fidel Castro just had an election. Now, 
I hope you are not going to tell me that that is an appropriate 
election as well.

So, there are elections and there are elections. And the question is 
that for the United States and its national security interests and its 
national interests, in the context of dealing with resources and 
intelligence, which puts the lives of Americans at risk, along with the 
lives of Colombians at risk who have done it with great courage, I am 
concerned that we are having an election process which we are not 
paying attention to in the context of having a fair and free election. 

And at the end of the day, that we can say we had an election in 
Colombia, but what we really have is not an -- is not an election 
based upon the fundamental principles that not we in the United 
States, but the international community, would accept.

I am concerned about what is happening with the narcoguerrillas 
and the context of the intimidation that they are generating in this 
election, with the lack of Colombian citizens able to register to vote, 
and with other questions of drug money in the context of this 

And to me, that will undermine all of our efforts. It will undermine 
machine guns. It will undermine Blackhawk helicopters, because as 
Mr. Hamilton says, what you need is the national will, through its 
leadership, to help General Serrano and others who are beyond that 
type of reproach to make a difference.

And I hope that we are serving observers. I hope that we are doing 
it before election day and looking at the registration process so that 
we can make a decision as to whether the next government that is 
elected in Colombia is one that we are truly worthy of making the 
type of very important and sensitive decisions on behalf of the 
United States with. 

GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired. Thank you, Mr. 
Menendez. Mr. Ballenger.

BALLENGER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Beers, I'm reading your poop sheet here and it says that you've 
been in this job since January?

BEERS: Yes, sir.

BALLENGER: And I heard you say, I think you volunteered for the 

BEERS: I was asked, but I took it willingly, sir. 

BALLENGER: You didn't turn it down, in other words? 


Considering the past record of what seems to have been occurring as 
far as our own government is concerned, I'm just curious -- I hope 
somebody somewhere -- in other words, I hope you're not sticking 
your neck out with nobody behind you. I mean, you've got the 
general there and SOUTHCOM. But the support that you might be able 
to get from here in Washington, D.C. -- I'll be frank with you. This 
committee is with you, and we'll do anything you would like.

But I'm afraid that past history has shown our administration doesn't 
really push very hard as far as doing something down there. I mean, 
we decertify them very easily, which I think may or may not have 
been -- I mean, it showed that we didn't like their politics, but it 
didn't do anything great as far as accomplishing a great deal as far as 
this drug war is concerned. But somebody somewhere made a 
commitment to you, I hope.

BEERS: Sir, I took the job. I came to office. Within two weeks, we held 
senior-level meeting at which I put my first proposal on the table. I 
was approved to go to Colombia in order to talk about those proposal 
with the Colombian government. I came back from Colombia. I 
briefed that same senior committee. I have circulated my draft 
strategy within the administration. No one in the administration is 
opposed to my proposal. I believe that I have the backing of the 
administration for this expanded effort against Colombia. If I don't 
have the backing of this government, then I'm not going to be able to 
do what I said I'm trying to do, and that's my basic purpose for being 
in this job, sir. 

BALLENGER: I understand that. And I recognize -- somebody made 
the statement that sending our people into dangerous areas, we 
didn't seem to worry a great deal about Bosnia. And I would 
consider, as far as the safety and health of American people, this is 
much worse than Bosnia. Do you have any idea how many American 
citizens there are in Colombia now? 

BEERS: No, sir, I can't answer that question with respect to -- I can 
only tell you about official presence at this point in time, which is 
roughly 400 plus people.

BALLENGER: But there's an oil -- Occidental Petroleum... 

BEERS: Yes, sir.

BALLENGER: ... and all those boys are there. 

BEERS: Yes, sir. There is a larger presence. I just don't have that 

BALLENGER: So, there are substantial numbers of American citizens 
there. And our government made a wild commitment to Bosnia, and 
we just passed a bill. I don't know how much of it is for Bosnia -- 
maybe a billion dollars -- for a peace effort there. So, I hope that 
somewhere, somebody somewhere up there is particularly desirous 
of somehow doing the proper thing. 

Am I mistaken? I understand -- I know everybody talks 
Blackhawks, Blackhawks, Blackhawks. But did you all not sign a 
contract on super Hueys?

BEERS: We did, sir. We -- what we actually did, sir, was we appended 
our buy to an existing DOD contract in order to get the best price for 
the super Hueys. We did that in the middle of this month. I am fully 
committed to that program. I know there's been some problems with 
that program before, but I intend to see it through.

I've talked to General Serrano about this, and we will get those 
helicopters refurbished as quickly as it is possible to do so. 

BALLENGER: When you were there, did you have the opportunity to 
see -- they had just done -- I mean, the -- what do you call it, the 
repair and maintenance crew for the air force, I guess it was, had 
done -- had built a super Huey down there. It was the first or second 

BEERS: Yes, sir. I did not see that repair facility, but I am aware, and 
we are working with the Colombian government to see if some of 
that work can be produced in Colombia with the Colombian National 
Police, since we are aware of that capability.

But our first commitment is to the time to delivery of those 
helicopters and the best possible product. So, we will work multiple 
strands in order to do that as effectively and quickly as possible. 

BALLENGER: I'd like to ask the general, in a situation where we have 
American citizens kidnaped in a very dangerous area, what has been 
our past reaction when things like that occur? It would seem to me 
we shot up a little island in the Caribbean under Bush because 
students weren't even hurt. They were threatened to be in danger, 
and we blew that little island apart.

And I think we -- I'm not sure whether we did that in Panama or 
not. But we seem to have reacted, maybe I should say -- excuse me, 
if I may be political -- under Republican effort rather than the 
peaceful effort of the Democrats. But what is the normal reaction that 
you have in a situation like that?

WILHELM: Sir, in a situation like the one that we have in Colombia 
right now, our point of contact, the place where we go for request for 
assistance is to the ambassador and the country team. That 
immediately becomes a policy issue because the criminal act of 
kidnaping in Colombia is still something that the Colombian 
authorities exercise jurisdiction over and responsibility for.

Now, there are support measures that are available from the armed 
forces to provide them. It requires a policy decision. Are we 
prepared to do it? Yes, we are.

BALLENGER: Mr. Beers, one more thing. We had -- I was down there 
at Christmas time, a little before Christmas. And there was a big to-
do, and I think this is all of Central America. And you've probably 
been in it long enough to know that most Central American countries 
don't want to have the big daddy up north tell them what to do. 

But we were pretty well strongly talking about extradition of 
criminals into this country, people that had committed crimes in this 
country and then gone back to Colombia. And at that time, we were 
told that there would be a likelihood that an extradition would be 

I just remember hearing over and over again, well, it's going to 
happen. It's going to happen. Has it ever occurred yet? 

BEERS: An extradition from Colombia, sir? I'm not aware of one 
actually having happened. The current terms of the constitutional 
amendment are such that a case has to have occurred after that 
amendment was passed in December, under the current terms.

Now, there is a challenge in the court to the way in which the non-
retroactivity clause of that amendment was put into the 
constitutional amendment. And it may well be that the court 
removes the non-retroactivity clause and then we could request 
extradition of a Colombian who had committed a crime prior to that 
time in December when the law was passed. 

But the current way the law is written, we cannot do that. We expect 
to hear from the Colombian courts during the course of April, I 
believe, is when the ambassador told me that would be -- that 
process would normally have run its course.

BALLENGER: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I'm sorry I ran over, and I 
thank you kindly.

GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Ballenger. Mr. Blunt. 

BLUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know we are all anxious to get on 
to another panel, but I have a couple of questions. 

General Wilhelm, it seems to me that clearly, the key to this is 
helping Colombia not doing anything at the expense -- as I think you 
have said in your testimony -- of the other countries of Bolivia and 

How do we ensure, first of all, that we don't actually take money 
from them and see it go to Colombia, and secondly, is there some 
potential that if we do solve part of this problem in Colombia, that 
that -- with more money to Colombia -- that that in fact puts more 
stress on Bolivia and Peru, and we need to also be spending more 
money to help them because we are creating a problem for them as 
we push the drug business out of Colombia into the places of less 

WILHELM: Yes, sir. Really, you just articulated the case that I try to 
make and that is that right now, we are talking about this problem in 
a regional context. In truth, it's a hemispheric problem, as we all 
know. And it extends all the way from North America, from Canada, 
to Tierra del Fuego, if you look at who's making it and who's using it. 

Right now, we are focused on the Andean Ridge, which we call the 
source sum. And again, to deduct assets from the successful 
programs in Peru and Bolivia to really sort of bail out our activities 
in Colombia, might leave us with three problems instead of one.

Recognizing that none of us can print money, what I'm saying is that 
if more money is required for Colombia, then the effort in all three 
countries needs to be plussed up. We simply need to raise the bar. 

Again, there's a lot of pessimism that I find, particularly in 
Washington, and I guess I understand why. But you know, Peru has 
had an aggressive strategy, strong national leadership, really a three- 
point program based on interdiction, eradication and alternative 

The vice president of Bolivia was in town about a month ago, and we 
articulated a four-point strategy designed to really eliminate coca 
production in Bolivia over the next five years. It had the same three 
components as the Peruvian strategy, but it added one of education 
to reduce the use factor in Bolivia.

So, my concern is that again, we mortgage two successes to bail out 
one country that is not going in the direction that we all want it to go, 
including obviously, our Colombian friends. 

Now, if we solve Colombia, do I think that the problem is then going 
to immediately worsen in Peru and Bolivia? The answer is, no, sir, I 
don't think it will.

I think both of those countries have strong strategies that are 
succeeding on their own rights, and I don't see a displacement of the 
insurgents nor the narcotraffickers into either of those countries. 

If we can stay the course and sustain good, sound, robust programs 
in all three countries, we are going to be making headway. 

BLUNT: Mr. Beers, in that regard, what kind of assistance are we 
providing in Bolivia and Peru right now?

BEERS: With respect to both Bolivia and Peru, sir, based on the 
requirement to notify Congress with respect to what we were doing 
with this fiscal year's budget, both of those programs are under 
funded. The Bolivian program is under funded dramatically below 
the request level which we had. We had requested originally $45 
million. We have it funded currently, until we resolve the Blackhawk 
issue, at $14 million. 

With respect to the Peruvian program, we have it funded at $31. We 
had requested $40. We would like to work on a proposal to restore 
those programs to their request levels. And we expect to have a 
proposal to this committee and other members of Congress for that in 
the very near future. 

BLUNT: Yes. You know, we are talking today about helicopters and 
relative helicopter costs and those are obviously serious things. But 
you know that your agency -- I think it was September 11, 1996, in 
this room before this committee, said they were going to get a dozen 
Huey II's to Colombia. And none have been delivered, and this is the 
last day of March of 1998, so it's 18 months later, you know.

If the agency had done what they told the committee they were 
going to do 18 months ago, the committee, in all likelihood, would 
have had a different view of the helicopter issue and the Blackhawk 
issue. Are you -- why has it taken that long to get that -- to get 
nothing done? 

BEERS: Sir, I appreciate your comment. I understand your frustration. 
I am certainly committed to the Super Huey program. The 
circumstances which led to the inability to produce the contract for 
the Super Hueys had to do with a number of budgetary problems 
that the bureau experienced during that time. I'm afraid I can't tell 
you in great detail what those were. I wasn't here. But I can tell you 
that I am committed, at this point, to making that Super Huey 
program work, and not just this fiscal year, but in several years 

The original, or this year's buy that we have programmed, is only the 
first of several years of this program. I have spoken with the 
company. They are aware of my intentions, and I am committed to 
making this program work.

BLUNT: Well, I think there's been a long gap of leadership in the 
agency, and maybe that's then part of why there's been no follow- 
up on these commitments. But certainly, the commitments made 
before the committee, hopefully, would be made with some 
correlation with whether it was possible to get that done or not. And 
I hope your commitments today are made in that regard.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Blunt.

Just one or two quick questions. Mr. Beers, how can we expand 
operations when the Hueys are deadlined and can't be flown? Just 
this week, we learned they were taken out of operation and it may 
be six months to a year before they can be put back in operation. 

Only seven of the 36 Hueys delivered to the CNP are operating today. 
It's certainly strange credibility. And as Mr. Blunt noted, I have a 
letter of October 10, 1996 from Barbara Larkin, the acting assistant 
secretary for legislative affairs, saying, "As you noted, the 12 UH-1H 
helicopters for the CNP have been included in the fiscal year 96 
draw-down, notified by the president on September 14. And as you 
know, it is our intention to convert a number of UH-1H helicopters to 
the so-called Super Huey configuration for the CNP."

This is October of 96, and not one of those has been delivered yet. 

BLUNT(?): Mr. Chairman, could I put this letter into the record? 

GILMAN: Yes, by all means. The letter of October 10, 1996 directed to 
the chairman of this committee by Barbara Larkin will be made part 
of the record.

Mr. Beers, I would hope that -- you have indicated you are going to 
give attention to this. But October of 96 and here we are in 98 and 
not one of these have actually been worked on yet. I would hope that 
there is going to be some better attention to a war that's going on 
down there, and we're sitting back, saying, well, we'll get to it and 
try to provide them with something up the road.

BEERS: Sir, that fiscal 97 letter...

GILMAN: 96 letter.

BEERS: Sir, fiscal year 97 was when the letter was written. 

GILMAN: October 10, 1996.

BEERS: Yes, sir. I'm simply making a point that we were talking about 
fiscal year 97 money. That's all, sir. I don't mean to contradict you. 

GILMAN: The money was there. There was no problem. 

BEERS: Yes, sir. I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm simply... 

GILMAN: That was a 96 draw-down, not...

BEERS: It was a 97 line item that was not spent. 

GILMAN: If I might interrupt you, as you noted, and this is the letter, 
12 UH-1H helicopters for the CNP have been included in the fiscal 
year 96, Section 506(A)(2) draw-down, notified by the president on 
September 14. And we're talking about 96.

BEERS: Yes, sir. That's correct. And the program for the 
refurbishment was the fiscal year 97 program. That's the only point 
I'm trying to make, sir. I'm not disagreeing with you about the time. 
I'm simply making the point that the money that was in the budget 
that was not spent -- I'm not disagreeing with you -- it was not 
spent. It was fiscal year 97 money that was in the program budget.

GILMAN: Why wasn't it?

BEERS: And it was not spent because other program priorities as 
determined by the leadership at that time made the determination to 
spend the money in the area of operations in Colombia to expand the 
eradication effort in Colombia in order to be able at the end of the 
year to produce basically the results that we are talking about here, 
which were 50,000 hectares of coca and opium poppy that were 
sprayed in fiscal year 97. 

Now, I understand your concern about the Hueys, and as I have 
indicated to you in this fiscal year, with the money that I am acting 
assistant secretary and charge of, we have produced that contract, 
and we are committed to completing that program. And we will do it 
again the following year if I am in charge of the bureau, or if I am 
still the principal deputy at that time, and I have no reason to 
believe that I won't be one or the other of those positions at this 

GILMAN: Mr. Beers, is that contract been let? 

BEERS: Yes. Yes, sir. That's what I'm telling you. 

GILMAN: Who is the contractor?

BEERS: We have two pieces of that contract. We have a piece of that 
contract with U.S. Helicopter for the refurbishment of five and we 
have a contract for an additional five kits with Bell Helicopter, who 
provide the input for that.

The reason that I am not at this point in time able to tell you who the 
final contractor for assembly is, is one, we have some time in order 
to make that decision, and two, we are investigating with the 
government of Colombia as to whether or not some of that work will 
in fact be done by the Colombian firm.

GILMAN: You talked about two five units, two contracts for five... 

BEERS: That's correct. That is what the contract was let for, yes, sir. 

GILMAN: What happened to the 12 we were talking about? 

BEERS: At this point in time, sir, the contract is for 10. That's what 
$14 million buys.

GILMAN: The letter I received from your department, from the 
Department of State, said 12 UH-1H helicopters for the CNP have 
been included in the fiscal year draw-down, notified by the 
president in September. What happened to the other two?

BEERS: Those helicopters are either in the air wing in Florida, or they 
are already in Colombia. Those were the helicopters that were to be 
refurbished, sir. We have some of those retained at the air wing in 
Florida and the rest of them have gone down to Colombia. 

GILMAN: Are those the used Vietnam type? 

BEERS: Those are UH-1H Vietnam-era aircraft, yes, sir. 

GILMAN: Are these the ones that have been grounded this past 

BEERS: Yes, they are, sir. And the terms of the grounding, as we 
understand it, are that the engines have been -- have raised a 
concern with respect to the vibration of the engine, leading to some 
form of metal fatigue.

There is a test which the Army has and for which we also have the 
diagnostic equipment, which we are undertaking with respect to our 
own and with respect to the Colombian helicopters, to determine 
whether or not they are encompassed by the grounding or whether 
or not they are believed to be safe.

We will as vigorously as we can, as quickly as we can, as we learn 
fully what the Army grounding order intends to determine whether 
or not the helicopters in our and the Colombian fleet should be 
grounded. We don't know the answer to that yet, sir.

GILMAN: I'm reading a Washington Times article of March 30 of this 
year that the National Guard and the Army have grounded their 
fleets of UH-1 Huey helicopters which have an unexplained history of 
potential catastrophic mechanical problems.

And this is the kind of equipment that we delivered to the Colombian 
police who were trying to do a job. And we can't get them the 
Blackhawks that they need. And now we -- you're telling us that the 
12 Super Hueys that they wanted will probably not be available for 
quite a period of time. Is that correct?

BEERS: We do not expect the Super Huey helicopters to be available 
before the end of this calendar year.

GILMAN: When do you expect them to ere is a war going on. I sure 
would hope that in any time of emergency, we would want to do 
better for our own troops than we are doing for the Colombian 
people, who are left out there hanging without the kind of equipment 
that they need. 

I guess my time is up, and I am going to ask Mr. Ballenger if he'd 
take over for a few minutes. I have a meeting in a side room. Mr. 


GILMAN: Fire away.

MICA(?): Thank you for recognizing me. I'm not a member of this 
committee, but I am a member of the National Security International 
Affairs Subcommittee, and the general has testified before us. I 
haven't had the opportunity to deal much with you, Mr. Beers, but 
we have been investigating this since our side took over the Congress 
in 1995. 

We have held 40 hearings. We have begged, pleaded, asked, 
demanded, done everything we can to get the equipment to Colombia 
to General Serrano and others, not just helicopters but all the other 
array of equipment. We've had every excuse. We've had every delay. 
We've had every blocking of this. 

It is the intention of this panel, I believe, our subcommittee, the 
leadership of the House of Representatives, to get this equipment 
there. If we have to do it piece by piece in resolutions before the 
House, if we have to haul people in and charge them with whatever 
we can charge them for not obeying a direct law and request of 
Congress, we will do whatever measure we need to do.

This stuff is coming into the country in incredible quantities. We saw 
charts behind closed doors and open doors of what's taking place, 
and Colombia is a disaster and we have helped it get in that situation. 
That's not a question. It's a statement of fact, and it's a statement of 
action. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to join your 
committee. Thank you.

BALLENGER(?): Let me thank you gentlemen for coming here. I think 
we want to start the next panel. And sadly, we have a vote coming 
up. But Mr. Beers, you seem maybe too tough to be able to stick on 
your job, but I hope like the dickens you do stay there and that if 
you need some help with your employment on the Senate side, we'd 
be glad to put somebody in your position that would really kick some 

Now General, we greatly appreciate your service and anything we 
can do to help you, let us know. And with that, we thank you and 
we'll call the next panel.

BEERS: Thank you, sir, for the opportunity to appear before this body. 

WILHELM: Thank you, sir.


BALLENGER: You know, if possible, we'd like to be able to call the 
next panel in and start the questioning if -- considering those ladies 
have waited a long time. And the longer we spend here, the longer 
they'll be sitting there.

If we may break up the conversations. We are honored today to have 
as our second panel, General Jose Serrano, director general of the 
Colombia National Police.

General Serrano has served in the Colombian National Police for 39 
years. He has commanded respect throughout the world as the man 
who dismantled some of the most notorious drug cartels. 

Currently, General Serrano is battling the FARC and the ELN 
narcoguerrilla organizations throughout Colombia. And we are 
pleased that you have come all this way to be with us today, General 
Serrano. We look forward to your testimony.

If we may, General Serrano, could we postpone the beginning of your 
testimony for -- it'll take us about five or seven minutes to go over 
and vote, and we'll be right back. So you can relax. 


SERRANO: (THROUGH INTERPRETER) Thank you very much. I want t 
plant this time the wrong way, the guerrillas destroyed one 
helicopter, killed one policeman, and this moment, we have five 
policemen missing. 

And this is the best proof to confirm that the guerrillas have a nexus 
with narcotraffickers. And now, for this reason, this is true war. 

And one war on the police, Colombian National Police, lose more than 
4,000 policemen. We find also in the war against marijuana and after 
today, the coca war, and now the heroine war.

And this establishes very concern but we continue to fight. We try to 
break these criminal networks. We receive, very glad to receive the 
support we receive today from this committee and the helicopter we 
tried to obtain is very necessary for our duty. 

We need two helicopters to take more (OFF-MIKE) for our reach, 
because the reason is the altitude of the poppy crops and also the 
increase of the coca cultivation in the far away regions. In this 
moment, we turn operated (ph).

For this reason, we propose of the Colombian government to consider 
to approve a new herbicide. If this herbicide is not liquid, it is 
granular, and the name is Tibution (ph). And if we use Tibution (ph), 
we can fumigate more hectares of coca.

And also, we put a very strong effort for the new orientation of the 
police. In this moment, we have more than 100,000 men. And also in 
one process against with the corruption, we fight it 7,000 men, 
policemen. And these provide for us to clearly -- clearly operation 
for my policemen. 

With this operation, we obtain -- stopped narcotraffickers' trends 
(ph). Also, the Colombian fiscal year put a big effort to give 
application of the new laws to essentially approve (OFF-MIKE), 
increase the (OFF-MIKE) and also the extradition.

The extradition is an element. The narcotrafficker is very afraid with 
this element. Essentially, extradition was approved. We tried to 
improve (ph) to the leaders of drugs after they approved the new 
legislation, extradition, put against the narcotraffickers the new law 

We continue to fight shoulder-by-shoulder with DEA, with CIA, with 
FBI and, of course, with the State Department. This (OFF-MIKE) is 
very important for continuous and to give good results. Also, we 
have support from other branches, international branch, for trying to 
break the network of the international network of criminals. 

Also, today, we have new concerns. For example, the presence of the 
mafia, the Russian mafia in our region. They suspect analysis with 
American counterparts for trying to avoid the new element the mafia 
put in the drug fight, in the drug wars.

In Colombia today, we don't have big cartels or big organizations. We 
have small groups. They are not big. But it's very difficult to detect 
these new groups.

This new trend to appear in our panorama because the former big 
cartel to get back experience. The big cartel has big strength. His boss 
has died and also the Medellin Cartel today was dying. The Cali Cartel 
is more sophisticated. Try to employ the corruption like a big 
strategy, but now, all of the kingpins of the Cali Cartel was behind 
bars. Now, the CNP, we prepare to try to attack the narcotrafficker 
with the new trends and also OFF-MIKE), if the country doesn't put a 
strict control, maybe we will be producing more dangerous than the 
natural drugs. 

And this is -- this problem is for the next century and this problem 
we put in our focus. And so we would like to put this today for the 
concern of the American society. The reason is try to the analysis 
very close in the future.

To end, let me say again my (OFF-MIKE) and my gratitude for the 
interest of this committee in trying to obtain support for CNP. This 
attitude is our compromise certainly and continues to work for 
Colombia and for the rest of the world, to try any day in the future, 
to try to eradicate this problem, the drugs, to put many problems for 
our country and also of the rest of the war.

Thank you very much.

GILMAN: Well, thank you, General Serrano. I'm sorry we had the 
interruption with the votes on the floor. 

General, how well financed and armed are the narcoguerrillas that 
your men face in each and every day in Colombia? Are they well 
armed? Are they heavily financed?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): This is one of the best financed 
and sophisticated guerrilla movements in the world. 

They have modern arms. We have information that they are working 
to obtain missiles (OFF-MIKE). They have M-60s, 50 caliber, AK-47s. 
They have rockets. This is a guerrilla force that is extremely well 
armed with money financed by narcotics trafficking.

GILMAN: Who's the major supplier of their arms? I note the photos 
here showed some Russian arms. Who is the major supplier of the 
arms for the narcotraffickers?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): There are important stockpiles of 
weapons. They were left over from the conflicts in Central America. 
We also believe that there are new arms coming in from the former 
Soviet Union. Last year, the police alone seized 400 AK-47s.

GILMAN: Are there any Russian military trainers there, training the 

SERRANO (through interpreter): No. The Colombian guerrillas have 
been around for 40 years. It is a self-sufficient guerrilla force in 
terms of its training. In fact, they are actually looking outside to 
develop a network and reactivate the network of guerrilla 
organizations to try to destabilize other countries.

GILMAN: General, how many in personnel do you have in your anti- 
narcotics units?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): Anti-narcotics intelligence, we've 
got 1,000. And they work exclusively on gathering information. They 
work with the DEA, with the CIA and other international 

And for operations in the field, we have 3,000 men in the anti- 
narcotics police. On a permanent basis, we have 30 helicopters that 
are operating, and we have nine turbo-thrust airplanes used for 

GILMAN: You use your helicopters in about 90 percent of your work. 
Is that correct?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): Every aircraft which the national 
police have is used exclusively for counter narcotics operations. 

GILMAN: For many years, General, you have been recommending and 
advocating Blackhawk utility helicopters for the CNP to help your 
fighting. Can you tell us why you need the Blackhawks?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): For several reasons. First, the 
poppy is located at more than 3,000 meters above sea level. The UH-
1H helicopters do not have the capability to carry necessary 
elements to the Alps to provide the support for the fumigation.

And the Huey, at those altitudes, we can only send two men up. In 
the Blackhawk, we could put 15 to 18. Where coca is concerned, the 
narcotics traffickers are planting the coca at greater distances than 
the range. They know what the range of the Huey helicopter is. So, 
they calculate that range and plant the coca farther than that. 

We can also put more armed men onto a Blackhawk to destroy, take 
down and destroy laboratories and also clandestine air strips. And 
instrument flight is also possible, allowing foul weather flying. The 
Huey helicopters are flown by sight only, which makes it more 
complicated to fly them in jungle areas.

GILMAN: General, we've been talking about removing our troops 
from Panama. If the U.S. were to leave Panama, you have expressed 
some concern. Would you state those concerns to us if U.S. troops 
were to leave Panama completely?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): It's a -- we have observed (OFF- 
MIKE) close to the (OFF-MIKE) zone. There's a proposal to create a 
counter narcotics school in a part of the facilities there. 

Even though it's a decision that may have been taken, we would 
certainly like to see the continuation of schools there to prepare 
people for that counter-narcotics fight. Because without that, we 
would be left only with the School of the Americas at Fort Benning. 

GILMAN: General, there was some testimony, when we were talking 
about the Blackhawks and some of the critics said that they don't 
have enough -- you don't have enough qualified pilots to handle the 
Blackhawks in Colombia, nor are you capable of maintaining it. Can 
you tell us how you would respond to that?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): We have had trainers arrive at 
our facility in Maroquita (ph). We also have over -- we have 800 
technicians who are trained with the police. Also, I'd like to point out 
that we have loaned pilots to the Army to fly their helicopters, and 
these pilots have over 4,000 hours of flight time under their belts. 
They have an extraordinary amount of experience at their disposal.

I'd like to point out that they also train the pilots for the Army, for 
the Air Force, and for the Navy as well. And they also provided 
training internationally to pilots from the region, from the Dominican 
Republic, Panama and Chile with great results. Actually, it's the first 
pilot training school in Latin America for police. 

The United States government invested $9 million in that school. 

GILMAN: What's the name of the school, General? 

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): The Maroquita (ph) School. 


GILMAN: Thank you, General.

SERRANO: Thank you, Senator.

GILMAN: Mr. Ballenger.

BALLENGER: Mr. Chairman, if I may, I'd like to introduce for the 
record information that is answering those questions that they have 
given us. 

GILMAN: Without objection. What is it entitled? What is the paper 

BALLENGER: It's Colombian National Police anti-narcotics direction 
helicopter pilot population, repair population and fleet. 

GILMAN: Without objection.

BALLENGER: Thank you.

GILMAN: Mr. Burton.

BURTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Serrano, have you gotten 
any intelligence information from our spy satellites or any of our 
other intelligence gathering paraphernalia to assist you in fighting 
the narcoguerrillas?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): We do have support from CIA 
satellites to be able to map the illicit cultivation of drug crops. The 
satellite images tell us how many hectares are under cultivation. 
Also, it follows up and takes a look at the results after fumigation. 

BURTON: Well, what I want to find out is, you have lost a lot of men 
in fire fights with the guerrillas. And one of the things that our 
intelligence satellites and others could provide would be some 
information on troops movements, where there's a heavy 
concentration of guerrillas, and whether or not they are prepared for 
your attack. 

And what I want to find out is, has our intelligence people, DIA or 
CIA, given you anything like that?

airplanes with flares to detect the presence of groups and also of 

And we do have some support from platform, but in a very limited 

BURTON: Do you think they could be more helpful than they have 
been, our intelligence agencies, in giving you satellite information on 
the enemy? 

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): They have given good support 
with equipment that we ourselves have installed. Last year, we -- 
Colonel Naranjo (ph) is the chief of our intelligence program. We have 
invested $20 million in our own efforts. This is money from the 
Colombian government for the development of an integral 
intelligence capacity. And this is extremely helpful to us.

BURTON: But -- I guess maybe I'm not making myself clear. Are you 
getting from our government and our intelligence sources as much 
help as you think you should get, or do you think you should get 

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): I think we could use more, some 
intelligence support. But knowing of the U.S. intelligence gathering 
capacity, we could receive much more.

BURTON: One second. Are you getting real time intelligence that you 
can use when you get it?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): In some cases, yes, we have 
gotten that support.

BURTON: OK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Burton. Mr. Ballenger. 

BALLENGER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

You mentioned in your statement that you had 4,000 police members 
killed, I think. Over what period of time?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): Since the beginning of our fight 
against the narcotics traffickers. In 1990, 500 policemen were 
murdered by Pablo Escobar. He paid between $2,000 and $3,000 for 
each policeman who was killed. That's not taking into account the 

BALLENGER: Do they have a price on a helicopter that they shoot 

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): The guerrillas will pay for the 
shooting down of a helicopter. We have lost five helicopters and 
three planes. 

BALLENGER: I was there in Colombia, Bogota, when they were 
rebuilding the Huey I into the Huey II, the Super Huey. And I've 
seen pictures of it flying. Does that belong to your police force or to 
the air force? 


BALLENGER: Well, has the air force tried it at the altitudes that you 
need for say, your Blackhawk?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): The army does have Blackhawks 
and they use them in the highest parts of the country. 

BALLENGER: But I'm asking about the Huey, the Super Huey. 

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): I don't know. We don't have 
them, and I'm not sure what tests the air force may have conducted. 

BALLENGER: From prisoners that you may have captured among the 
narcotraffickers, is there some way of knowing what they want to 
do? Do they want to overthrow the government? Do they want to 
take control? 

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): They don't know what they 


Terrorism. They blow up pipelines. They attack police stations. The 
truth is, they don't have an ideology. It's from the time that they join 
with the narcotics traffickers.

BALLENGER: Mr. Chairman, thank you. We've got to (OFF-MIKE) 

GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Ballenger. Do you want to do it now? Mr. 

BEREUTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In the way of brief background, 
Mr. Brian Sheridan (ph), deputy assistant secretary of defense at the 

BALLENGER: Would you like me to take over? 

BEREUTER: It was quoted in the Columbus, Georgia Ledger Inquirer of 
March 20, 1998, as follows: "Young Latin American soldiers and 
police officers who train at Fort Benning School of the Americas are 
vital in keeping drugs off America's streets. There is no greater 
threat to our hemisphere right now than drug trafficking, and the 
young people that we just saw are going out and risk their lives 
trying to keep cocaine, heroine and marijuana off the streets of the 
United States." 

General Serrano, I think you are familiar with the School of the 
Americas. Could you comment on what types of counter drug 
operations graduates from the School of the Americas are performing 
to aid the U.S. in prosecuting the drug war in Colombia?

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): We have two very important 
(OFF- MIKE). First, there is the School of the Americas, which train 
our reaction forces for use in fighting narcotics trafficking with 
excellent results. 

We also receive support from Fort Rucker to train our pilots. It seems 
to me that the School of the Americas has been a very valuable 
instrument to train the anti-narcotics police.

We also have officials who are instructors there who also support 
other countries. I know of its organization. I've been to visit several 
times. And I'm a witness to the fact that it's a valuable, very 
valuable instrument for training our men to carry out the anti- 
narcotics fight. 

BEREUTER: Thank you, General Serrano. Just one more question. Last 
year at Mata (ph), Colombia, 19 young Colombian National Police 
officers were executed by guerrillas on the battle field (OFF-MIKE) 
attack and they were shot in the back of the heads.

SERRANO (THROUGH INTERPRETER): I have always generally 
complained. Even though I respect and we have very good relations 
with non-government organizations, we wish that the NGOs would 
also speak out when established norms of human rights for the 
policemen are also violated. 

BEREUTER: Thank you, General.

GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Bereuter. General, we thank you and we 
thank the captain (ph) and your associates for being here. We can't 
tell you how much pride we have in the wonderful work you are 
doing. May you continue your good work and via con Dios.


GILMAN: The committee stands in recess during the vote. We'll 
return very quickly.


BLUNT: I think we are ready to go ahead and start with this panel. 

We want to thank the panel who has been here with us all afternoon 
and certainly, our schedule is pretty unpredictable. It's just as 
unpredictable for us as it is for you.

This panel, of course, is going to be able to focus on the cruel 
phenomenon of kidnaping in Colombia. There are currently nine 
Americans who have been kidnaped and held hostage in Colombia. 

On March 23, only eight days ago, four American bird watchers, as 
they have been described, traveling a road outside Bogota, became 
the latest kidnaping victims. Three men and a 63-year-old former 
nun from Peoria were seized at a road block by the so-called 
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, known as the FARC.

The FARC recently announced it would seek to kill American counter 
narcotics officials. The FARC clearly has no compunctions about also 
targeting American civilians.

Since 1980, 83 innocent Americans have been held hostage in 
Colombia. Twelve of these Americans are known to have been 
murdered. On February 1997, an American geologist was brutally 
killed by the narcoguerrilla group that called itself ELN, National 
Liberation Army. In 1995, Steve Welch, Timothy Van Dyke of the 
Florida-based New tribes Mission, were executed by their abductors 
as well.

These kidnapings and suffering of the victims and their families go 
largely unnoticed and are under-reported in the media. In Colombia, 
kidnapers act with substantial impunity. Ninety-seven percent of the 
crimes in Colombia are never brought to justice. Colombian judicial 
authorities do not prosecute cases involving narcoguerrillas to any 
appreciable extent. The U.S. government does not negotiate with 
terrorists. In Colombia, however, kidnaping victims are commonly 
ransomed. Such negotiations are legal under Colombia law but must 
be coordinated with the government's anti- kidnaping czar. 

Today, we'll hear testimony from three Americans whose lives were 
callously and inextricably altered by kidnaping at the hands of the 
narcoguerrillas. And before I introduce the panel, I'd like to yield to 
Mr. Mica for an opening statement.

MICA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank your 
committee on international relations for the opportunity to be with 
you today and to introduce to your committee three (AUDIO GAP) 

HARGROVE ... work on the morning of September 23, 1994. And if I 
had been following the normal pattern, I would have missed what 
happened. In a way, I blame Robert Fulghum, the author, for what 
happened. I had just read one of his books, and he gave 10 
commandments for a better life. One of them was -- Always take the 
scenic route.

Even though I was late for work that morning, I could either drive 
through Cali, Colombia traffic, heavy traffic and nerve- wracking, or I 
could take a little longer and drive through the Colombian 
countryside. I thought, always take the scenic route. Life's too short 

So, I turned right off the Pan American Highway to drive through the 
countryside. That was the last decision I made on my own for about 
a year. I was driving fast. I saw --up ahead, I saw a road block -- 
retin (ph), they call them. That didn't bother me at first because road 
blocks are a common part of life in Colombia. Manned by the police 
or the army, they search cars looking for drugs, guerrillas, arms, 

I pulled up and saw all of these soldiers. Then I knew something 
looked a little strange. A couple of them held pistols instead of 
having the pistols in their holsters. Then two men came from behind 
a truck wearing ski masks. Well, that's when I knew I had trouble. 

One waved a .45 at me and told me to get out of the car. Well, I said 
that I worked for this agricultural research -- the International 
Center for Tropical Agriculture in Spanish and I'm on my way to 
work. I heard them talking, and I heard one word. I heard the word 
"gringo." The next thing I knew, they were motioning me to get in the 
back of a pickup. It was a stolen pickup. The FARC had come down 
from the mountains to steal cars, pass out propaganda, rob people, 
and I drove into that. 

Then two -- well, a fellow -- they started passing out propaganda 
with a portrait of Che Guevara on it. I said, who are you? He said, 
FARC. Well, I knew who FARC was, but I know a lot better now. 

Two kids about 13 and 14 were put in the back of the pickup. One 
was wearing bandoliers of M-60 machine gun ammunition and 
carrying Galiels (ph) and AK-47s. And the next thing I knew, we 
were bouncing away. I was in the back of the truck. They took me to 
a village up in the mountains. Then we pulled out of the Coca (ph) 
Valley and went up into the Andes Mountains. The guerrillas were 
all over this village like they owned the place.

That night, we went further in the mountains, and they took over an 
Indian's hut up there and we stayed there that night. They offered 
me the -- the guerrillas asked if I would like marijuana or basoko 
(ph). Basoko (ph) mean bazooka. In Spanish, it's what's left over from 
the cocaine process. It's bad cocaine that's sold to the poor all across 
South America. That is the drug of choice, by the way, of the 

I said I didn't. I was never offered drugs again, by the way. These 
guys didn't know. They weren't expecting me, so they didn't know 
that they weren't supposed to offer me drugs.

The next morning, I kept thinking, I'll be out of this as soon as I meet 
somebody who is in charge and who understands what I do. So I 
thought, you know, Marxist guerrillas, they must out to help the poor 
and everything. Well, that's what I'm doing.

The next day, I was able to look around. And behind the Indian's hut, 
he was growing an unusual agricultural crop -- onions inter- cropped 
with opium poppies. Even though I had lived and worked in Asia for 
a long time, I saw my first Asian opium poppies in the Andes while I 
was up there. 

I kept thinking we would be released soon. After three days, they 
said -- Tomas, can you ride a horse? I said, yes, of course I can ride a 
horse. I'm from Texas. They said, we're going to be making a trip. 
Would you rather ride a horse or a mule? I said a horse. That night, 
they brought me a mule, and we started riding higher and higher 
into the mountains. The mule's name was Batalia (ph), Battle.

As we rode incredible territory with hundreds of feet below, straight 
off, drop-offs, the river rushing through the rocks, I kept thinking, 
boy, I'm glad I have this mule instead of a horse after a while. 

We wound up at a mountain camp that was typical of most of the 
FARC camps that I was in. We rode for two solid days, OK? And we 
came to a high river valley. Then you went straight up the mountain 
from that high valley and the peaks were 3,000 meters. Just below 
the mountain peaks were other valleys that you can't see from 
below. And up there, in that case, there was a one-room mud hut. 
That became our headquarters. 

They -- the guerrillas didn't worry much about helicopters or 
anything like that. There was a lot of wind up there, and also the 
mountain peaks trap the clouds. And it was almost always raining or 
misting and covered over in clouds.

We stayed in that camp, well, altogether for two months. There were 
seven guerrillas guarding me at first. Let me say something about 
the guerrillas as I know them. A lot of people think South American 
guerrilla, they have an idea of an intellectual revolutionaries that 
have left the university to fight for the poor. The people who had me 
had about a second-grade education. It was about the most that 
anybody had. They were all either illiterate or semi-literate.

I never met anyone that I really considered of average intelligence, 
and I am not confusing intelligence with education. They use drugs. 
They like to talk about drugs. People who use drugs like to talk about 
drugs. A third of the guerrillas are female. About a third of all of 
them I saw were female, same age group.

I classified -- if I had to categorize them from the least cruel to the 
most cruel, I would put the women in both extremes. I thought a lot 
of the women, I felt, had been abused by men, and it's pretty easy to 
take revenge on a hostage.

I almost died -- well, after a month, about every three weeks, 
supplies would come up by mule train. And we were very, very 
remote. During the whole year, I never saw a wheel -- and I don't 
mean a wheele saw that his troops under his command, while stoned, 
had killed this cow. 

And he started wandering around, shooting randomly at different 
things. Later on that day, he put -- he decided that I was the real 
reason that this had happened. If I hadn't -- the unit had not been 
detailed to guard me, this all wouldn't have happened. He put the 
muzzle of his assault rifle behind my head. Then, at the last minute, 
he raised the muzzle and fired over my head through the roof.

I didn't even jump. I knew that I was very, very close to death. I 
turned around and he was laying against the bunk with the muzzle 
of his rifle like that, his eyes wide open. I left. Two hours later, 
without going into it, he put the selector switch of his galia (ph) on 
full automatic, stuck the muzzle under his chin, pressed down with 
his thumb, and blew three rounds through the top of his head.

At that time, we left that camp, and I called it -- as we left, I'll never 
forget. I looked back and there was dead waco (ph) laying by the 
dead cow. And I said in Spanish, farewell, to El Valle de la Muerte, 
this valley of death. From then on, that camp was called El Valle de la 
Muerte. They asked me to name the other camps.

I wound up in December...

BLUNT: Dr., could you summarize here so we can get everybody in 
here and then we'll make -- we'll have some questions and come 

HARGROVE: OK. Later, I was accused of being a full colonel in the 
United States Army in a letter from the commander of 6th FARC, and 
I was put in chains. I was kept in chains for two and a half months. 
Later on, a 15-foot chain -- I could take 22 steps exactly. Christmas 

Later on, well, it was going on eight, nine, ten months past. In July, 
the camp I was in was attacked by the Colombian army. And from 
then on, we were on the run or hiding from the Colombian army until 
the time I was released.

Meanwhile, they took a proof of life video of me, which was sent to 
both my company and my family. The organization that I worked for 
decided it would not negotiate with terrorists, so my family was sort 
of left out there alone.

My family hired professional negotiators. They took money that 
would eventually be my inheritance -- my father was a very good 
cotton farmer -- and hired professional negotiators, worked with the 
company and initiated negotiations with FARC.

In -- after nine months, an initial ransom was paid. But I was not 
delivered. Later on, FARC contacted the family again and said that we 
used that money to give him better treatment. Now, this is the real 
ransom. If you want him back, you're going to have to pay. Then, 
they have to decide whether I'm still alive and whether to raise the 
money to pay again. 

We wound up hiding in an extinct volcano crater at the end. One 
morning on August 21, someone came to me and said, Le tucka de 
salia (ph). It's your time to leave. We walked through a free-fire 
zone. They said that the army would shoot anything on the ground. A 
spotter plane saw us and called a helicopter. By the time the 
helicopter got there, we were running and we had escaped from it.

After two days, on the evening -- my family thought I was dead -- I 
walked into our living room at 8:15 on the night of August 23, 1995. 
I had lost 50 pounds during the -- 50 to 60 pounds, and my hair was 
the color it is now when I was taken. My hair and beard had turned 
to orange from malnutrition and vitamin deficiency.

I think you would rather me cut it off right now and leave time for 
other statements.

BLUNT: Certainly, we are interested in your story and it's helpful, but 
we do need to do that. So, Mr. Germann, let's go on to you and I'm 
going to set this for five minutes.

GERMANN: Could I defer to Mrs. Rich, please? 

RICH: I just wanted to introduce the three of us missionary families 
who were living in Pucado (ph), Panama when on the evening of 
January 31, 1993. We are the Mankins. Dave and Nancy Mankins had 
been living in the village for the longest amount of time, seven years, 
and Rick and Patti Tenenoff had been living in Pucado (ph) for about 
five years. 

Mark and I had been living in Pucado (ph) for about six months 
when the night of January 31 came around. We were each in our own 
homes that night and it was starting to get dark. And each, in a little 
bit different way but all similar in the way that it happened, armed 
men burst into our homes and tied up our husbands and they had us 
pack bags for our husbands. They ransacked the homes, took the 
things that they wanted, food, mainly, medicine, and whatever else, 
electronic equipment they could find. And they led our husbands off 
into the night. We believed they were led across the river and down 
a trail towards Colombia, South America. 

We were living in Pucado (ph) to help the Kuna (ph) people. We were 
there upon their invitation. We had asked their permission to be 
living there. And they encouraged that and were thankful that we 
were there. We were helping them and our goal there was to teach 
them the word of God and to help them be able to live a better life. 
We had just had a team meeting and were planning on how we could 
best teach them how to reach and also we were very interested in 
their medical supplies and just the medical work that needed to be 
done there in the village also. 

January 31 was the most terrifying night of any of our lives. There 
were four children three and under there in our houses with us, and 
I am thankful that Tamra (ph) and Jessica, my daughters that were 
2-1/2 and 11 months old at the time, were asleep in their beds. 

In Rick and Patty's house, the children were still awake and so they 
saw these guerrillas in their house. That night is a night I will never 
forget. The girls ask us -- the children ask us all the time about their 
dad. None of the younger ones remember their dad at all. And so, we 
have to talk to them about things that have happened before and try 
to remind them the best we can of their dads.

The Tenenoffs had an eight-year-old daughter at the time. She was 
in boarding school in Chamai (ph), Panama, and Dave and Nancy 
Mankins had two grown children. Their daughter Sara was living in 
Chamai (ph), working as a secretary for New Tribes Mission, and 
their son was going to college at the time.

You know, life hasn't stopped in these five years since our husbands 
were taken. I have mentioned just the age difference in our children. 
Kids that were learning to walk and talk are now playing baseball 
and riding bikes and roller blading and their dads have never been 
able to share in some of these first events in their lives. The older 
children, Chad and Sara, Dave and Nancy's children, have both met 
their spouses and gotten married in these five years. And Dave and 
Nancy have -- Nancy has found out that she is going to be a grandma 
in October and Dave doesn't even know that his daughter is married.

Also, family members, grandparents, have died and our husbands 
have no idea that they are gone. The children seem to take their cues 
from us. When we are doing OK, they seem to be doing OK. The girls 
have recently asked me, Mommy, do you think that people know 
that it's not just hard for us to have Daddy gone, but that it actually 
hurts inside, because we can't have Daddy here with us?

It's very hard to look your children in the eye and tell them, I have 
to go another meeting. And they say, well, will Daddy come back? 
And I say, I don't know. We are asking people to help, and we'll do 
the best we can and it will just be a wonderful day when we can tell 
them. Because we went on this meeting and talked to these people, 
your Daddy is going to come back. 

Nancy, Patty and I are getting through each day because of God's 
strength. People have looked at us and said, you're strong women. 
But I'm here today to say we serve an awesome, strong God and 
that's the reason why we're still here. It has not been easy, but we 
have learned to trust Him more and know that he loves us no matter 
what happens. But we are ready for this horrible ordeal to be over. 
Thank you. 

BLUNT: Thank you. Mr. Germann, do you have a statement? You can 
put it in the record and summarize it, or you cstrongest possible 
terms that the United Nations take an active role in seeking the 
return of these hostages.

Our repeated requests to the United Nations have been rebuffed with 
the explanation that this case is not within its mandate. We want to 
ensure that all appropriate government resources are used in efforts 
to determine the location and condition of the hostages. 

And finally, we want the administration and its agencies to forward 
in a timely manner information it obtains, learns and develops about 
the location and condition of the hostages and the identity and 
circumstances of their captors to the crisis management committee 
that actively works to gain the release of these hostages.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and we're open -- welcome questions. 

BLUNT: Thank you, Mr. Germann. Mr. Germann, what was the last 
contact that you had with anybody who had seen the three hostages? 

GERMANN: We had a proof of life in early 1994 that the captors sent 
via the radio. That's the last time we heard the voices of the men. 
They prerecorded a message from them. That was the last actual 
proof of life. They have been seen, and we've gotten reports of 
having seen them, as well as statements from FARC representatives 
in countries such as Costa Rica, where they acknowledge that the 
men continue to be alive and well. 

Our most recent comment from a FARC representative, stating that 
the men are alive, was December of 1997.

BLUNT: Did you -- have you had any contact from the guerrillas or 
emissaries of the guerrilla groups or the families with a ransom 
request? What's the status of that?

GERMANN: Yes. And I'm sorry that I didn't go into just the process 
that we face. But during the first year of captivity via radio 
communication, they demanded $5 million for the release of these 
three men. 

BLUNT: And what kind of response was there? Did you have any 
dialogue following up on that, or...

GERMANN: Yes, we certainly did. During that entire year, we 
endeavored to explain to them that we were indeed missionaries, 
that the payment of this ransom was very difficult for them. We 
sought other avenues. We insisted that there must be some other 
way to resolve this particular situation. 

They unexpectedly cut off those radio communications early in 1994 
and they didn't return to communicate with us again. 

BLUNT: Mrs. Rich, this is not to be critical of you in any way, but did 
you have any notification from our government that the part of 
Panama you were in was dangerous? These guerrillas have been in 
this area prior to the time they came in and took the husbands of the 
three of you? What was kind of -- what led up to that in terms of the 
security you felt that obviously wasn't there?

RICH: Right. We felt totally secure living in this basically idyllic little 
village on a river in Panama. Panama was not known to have any 
problems with guerrillas or there were no threats that we were 
aware of, or that we had been advised of at all, as far as any danger. 

There are always hikers going through, because Pucado (ph) is 
located in the Dadienne (ph) Gap, the gap in the Pan American 
Highway. So, I mean, chances are that people -- guerrillas -- were 
passing through there, but we had no warning from anybody that 
anything like this would happen. 

BLUNT: Do you feel the Panamanian government was at fault in not 
guarding their borders adequately, or do you think they also had no 
reason to anticipate something like this could happen? 

RICH: I'm not sure. I mean, looking back, you always wish somebody 
would have been paying attention, you know, to let us know to be 
more careful or to get out of the area, or even that the guerrillas 
themselves would have given us some warning that they didn't want 
us there. 

But I believe that everybody thought that it was safe for us to be 
there. Otherwise, there would be no way that New Tribes Mission 
would have even allowed us to be in that area.

BLUNT: OK. Another question, Mr. Germann. Do you have missionaries 
in areas that you know have travel warnings and things like that, 
and how do you alert them? And would there have been any reason 
to have done that here?

GERMANN: No, we had no prior information that this was an area of 
risk. And currently, any New Tribes Missionaries have been taken 
into areas that are safe, and no one is out in those remote areas any 
more. Missionary work in Colombia has changed drastically over the 
last few years. BLUNT: Well, what about in other parts of the world? 
Do you send missionaries where there are State Department 
warnings against travel? 

GERMANN: No, we don't, Mr. Chairman.

BLUNT: You don't do that?

GERMANN: No, we don't.

BLUNT: Mr. Hargrove, did you have any knowledge of other hostages 
while you were a hostage?

HARGROVE: No, I did not. BLUNT: The guerrillas you were with never 
mentioned that there were other hostages in other places? You were 
just -- their world was them and you, right?

HARGROVE: No, no. That I had no contact with other hostages, 
although I was in one camp. There were two fellows down below and 
they told me not to even look at them because they were high FARC 
officials and that I would go back into chains if I -- you know, not to 
even look. This was in the volcano crater that we were in.

And I found out -- I never doubted the story. I found out later, after 
I came out, a negotiator who worked with them, I found out that this 
was a father and son, Colombian sugar mill owners, and they were in 
fact hostages themselves.

They -- had I known that they were other hostages, I would have 
tried to have communicated in some way but I did not know. I never 
had personal contact with anyone other than FARC.

BLUNT: In your situation, did your family have any assistance from 
the government or did they hire negotiators on their own, or how did 
that work out?

HARGROVE: Yes, they did have assistance from the government. The 
FBI gave my family all the assistance that they could. And in fact, 
during the course of my captivity, when my family became very, 
very close friends with the FBI agent who was looking on my case. 
But they hired professional negotiators to handle the negotiations.

BLUNT: OK. I'm going to turn this back over to the chairman. I'm also 
going to tell you that I'm going to be looking into what we can do to 
draft a sense in the Congress resolution that -- and I can only speak 
for myself, not for the committee here -- that goes into the specific 
areas that you asked about and see if we can get some more 
attention to this case.

I know I've written about half of the countries, their ambassadors 
that you have mentioned today, but I don't think I've written all of 
them. And maybe it's time for the Congress to step up and draw the 
kind of attention to this case that it needs to have and to the whole 
problem that Americans face in Colombia today.

Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Blunt, for chairing it 
during our absence. And I regret that we were called to a couple of 
other meetings while you were testifying, but I've been briefed a bit 
about it. 

Let me ask our good wives. How long had your husbands been in the 
missionary work in Colombia?

RICH: Mark and I had been living in Panama for a year... 

GILMAN: Would you put that mike a little closer to you? 

RICH: Yes. Mark and I had been living in Panama for only about a 
year and a half, but the Mankins, Dave and Nancy, had been living 
there for, I believe, seven years and the Tenenoffs for five. That's the 
time that we had been involved with the New Tribes Mission, 

GILMAN: And what sort of missionary work was he doing? 

RICH: All of us were there just trying to help the people, translating. 
Actually, the first job that Mark and I were still involved in was 
learning their language to be able to communicate to them in their 
heart language and then involved in teaching them the scriptures. 
They had been translating and translating other scripture portions 
into their language. And there to help the people. That's what we 
were really there. 

GILMAN: Have -- and I address this to all three of the wives. Have 
you received any information at all since they were taken away? 

RICH: We -- in the first year after they were taken, we heard -- not 
us personally, but the crisis committee, heard off and on. They came 
up over the two-way radio and made demands, the ransom demand 
and we heard our husbands' voice in Spanish, saying that they were 
alive and they were OK. But that was within the first year and since 

GILMAN: Where were you when you had that information? 

RICH: The information came in Panama and was recorded off of the 
two-way radio, so we heard it on a cassette tape and we were living 
here in the United States. As soon as the ransom demand was made, 
the ninth day after our husbands wereight that they took our 

GILMAN: And who was it from the -- your organization that 
negotiated with them?

RICH: Mr. Germann was part of the crisis management committee 
that was formed shortly after our husbands were taken and he was 
involved in some of what went on.

GILMAN: Mr. Germann, did you have direct negotiations with them? 

GERMANN: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

GILMAN: And where did that take place?

GERMANN: At the time of the capture, they took a radio, which also 
had the frequency that the missionaries communicated regularly on. 
So, it was easy for them to appear a few days later to say that they 
were responsible for having the three men. They wanted to speak 
with someone who had the authority to address the issue of their 

GILMAN: And did they identify themselves? 

GERMANN: They never did, neither during the taking of the 
missionaries nor during this entire process, which lasted about a 

GILMAN: And did you recall what their demand was? 

GERMANN: They demanded $5 million.

GILMAN: And how and when was that supposed to be paid? 

GERMANN: They never stated exactly where or how that was to be 
paid. They never varied either from the demand of that amount 
ofwhere they were located at all?

GERMANN: No, they didn't, though it was possible to ascertain that 
they were communicating to us from the northern part of Colombia. 

GILMAN: Did you ask for any police help in the negotiation? 

GERMANN: To my knowledge, every single conversation that I had 
with the captors, I was accompanied by a professional FBI negotiator. 
I don't think that I had any conversations without an FBI negotiator 

GILMAN: And were those discussions taped? 

GERMANN: That would be information that you could probably obtain 
from FBI. Yes.

GILMAN: And was there any attempt to triangulate where the 
messages were coming from?

GERMANN: Those type of efforts were taken by other agents. We 
weren't responsible for that type of endeavor.

GILMAN: Was our Federal Bureau of Investigation involved, you 

GERMANN: Yes, they were. Yes.

GILMAN: And who was the agent working on this? 

GERMANN: We had several over the course of that year. They were 
sent from the Miami bureau.

GILMAN: And when was the last of the conversations? 

GERMANN: The 16th of January, 1994.


GERMANN: Yes, sir.

GILMAN: How did they happen to break off? 

GERMANN: It made no sense to us because at that conversation, they 
left the impression that they would be right back. And so, we've 
waited by that radio until April of 1994, expecting them to return. 
The last communication was not really one of the more hostile 
engaging conversations, so there is a possibility that there was some 
interference by some people that made a contact with the captors, 
entered into a negotiation, and we had no knowledge of it. But they 
came to us some months later and said that they were indeed 
negotiating. It's a... 

GILMAN: Negotiating about...

GERMANN: For the release of the men.

GILMAN: Who was doing that?

GERMANN: It was an individual from Europe who had a contract with 
the United Nations to mine sweeping. A disturbing development for 
us, because we realized that we were now in a delicate situation to 
try to explain to them that the people you've been talking to were 
indeed not in contact with the family and in no way were authorized. 
They came to us and asked us for $2.5 million in order to reach this 
settlement that they had been discussing with FARC.

GILMAN: And what date was that?

GERMANN: That was in 1994.

GILMAN: Was there any further discussion after that? 

GERMANN: Not directly with them. No, sir. 

GILMAN: Well, was there any discussion with anyone after 94? 

GERMANN: We knocked on hundreds and thousands of doors seeking 
support and help in the release of these three men. Considerable 
effort was spent in Colombia, making trips up into the area of Udaba 
(ph), where we believe the men were being held, contacting officials 
in that area, trying to gain some link to the people that held our men. 

We have more recently, in 1997, sought support on international 
levels to see if other countries couldn't aid us in this effort to gain 
their release.

GILMAN: You heard the message. It concluded legislative business 
for the day.

Dr. Hargrove, when you were in captivity, did you see any narcotics 
trafficking taking place with any of your captors? 

HARGROVE: I didn't see actual trafficking, but I was in two camps 
that I'm almost certain were actually drug laboratories. 

GILMAN: How did you know that?

HARGROVE: Well, for one thing, the first six months, the guerrillas -- 
there were seven guerrillas, later 10 -- they would just hang around 
the camp all day. They weren't doing anything. They didn't do any 
training or anything.

Then we moved to another camp and something changed. They 
would go off every day and leave just two or three to guard me, and 
come back. Then we went back to the camp that we had left, and 
things changed completely. One part of it -- by then, I was out of 
chains and I could walk around in an area about like a football field.

One area off to this side, they said I wasn't to even look there and 
they started -- they build two buildings that I could barely see 
through the forest that were covered with black plastic. And it was 
by a stream, leading into a river down below.

And I was almost sure that these were drug laboratories. Then, one 
day one of the guerrillas -- they were playing a game. And one of the 
fellows, he disappeared, and he came back, bringing a barrel, an 
orange-colored, 25-gallon barrel that he set up to play this game on. 

Well, later, the other guerrillas came in and they said, you know, 
where did that come from? I said that Munyo (ph) brought it. And 
they were very upset. That barrel disappeared rigs guy's face. One 
time, I -- just by accident, I came face to face with him, and 
everybody stood in front, like that, and I caught on pretty quick that 
it might not be healthy for me to try to get a good look at this guy. I 
always felt that he was running the drug laboratories.

GILMAN: So, you never saw any direct evidence except seeing this 
barrel and maybe a building in the area? Besides that, you never saw 
any direct evidence of narcotrafficking?

HARGROVE: No, I never saw direct evidence of narcotrafficking. In 
my opinion, it was obvious they were doing it. 

GILMAN: And were there any dishe peasants who were growing coca 
and opium poppies because the people needed the money and so 
they -- that they were neutral on it, is what they told me.

GILMAN: In other words, they weren't harming the peasants who 
were growing?

HARGROVE: They didn't say, we are in the narcotrafficking business, 

GILMAN: While you were being held, were you aware of any other 
people being held as hostages?

HARGROVE: I knew that other hostages were being held. 

GILMAN: How did you know that?

HARGROVE: Well, I heard about Uncie (ph), a Colombian political 
congresswoman who had been kidnaped and released. I heard about 
the two New Tribes missionaries being -- who were killed. And I was 
told, by the way, that the Colombian army had killed them so it could 
be blamed on FARC.

They always told me, by the way, that they were protecting me, that 
if the Colombian army found me, then the Colombian army would kill 
me and so that they could blame it on FARC.

I personally would have preferred to take my chances with the 
Colombian army.

GILMAN: What year were you held?

HARGROVE: From September '94 through August '95. 

GILMAN: And you heard about the missionaries being held, you say? 

HARGROVE: Yes, being killed.

GILMAN: When did you hear that?

HARGROVE: I think it was June or July. It was while I was still being 

GERMANN: Mr. Chairman, we had two New Tribes missionaries that 
were killed in Colombia almost three years ago.


HARGROVE: That's the ones that I'm referring to. 

GILMAN: Mrs. Rich, did you want to add any more information? 

RICH: I guess I would just like to thank you all for the opportunity of 
being here and ask for continued interest and support on the things 
that we feel are really important right now. And I believe that there 
are many people here on this committee who are very interested, 
and we are very thankful for that.

And I am looking forward to going back and telling my girls that I 
had an opportunity to tell a lot of people about their dad, and that 
they will work hard to get him back.

GILMAN: How many children do you have, Mrs. Rich? 

RICH: I have two girls. They are 6 and 7 now. They were 2-1/2 and 
11 months old.

GILMAN: And do our other missionary wives have children, too? 

RICH: Nancy and Dave have two grown children who are married 
now, and Rich and Patty Tenenoff have three. And their oldest is now 
13 and their youngest 6.

GILMAN: Since 1994, have you had any further contact by any of the 
captors with regard to your husbands?

RICH: We have not had any direct contact with the captors, but we 
have heard via other people, private contacts between the guerrilla 
group in different countries and NGO's, non-government 
organizations, that have been told by FARC that our husbands are 
alive and that they are OK, as recently as December.

GILMAN: December of this past -- this past December? 

RICH: Yes. Yes.

GILMAN: And which group told you that?

RICH: I honestly don't know which one. I'm sorry. I just know that 
there have been several claims made that our husbands are still 
alive, and there have been a few made that they have been killed, 
but none have been able to be followed up or substantiated at all. 

GILMAN: Has the international committee of Red Cross helped you in 
any manner?

RICH: They have had letters and pictures from us since the beginning 
of this that they have never been able to deliver for us, so they have 
really not been able to help us at all in getting any messages to or 
from our husbands. We've not been able to send them any letters or 
get any letters back from them. We feel like that's something -- in 
almost every other Ahostage case that we've heard about, they've 
been able to at least get letters out or receive some kind of 
information, at least. 

GILMAN: Has Amnesty International been able to help you? 

RICH: In the first years, they were not very helpful. But recently, 
when we went to Venezuela for the Iberian-American human rights 
summit, they did sign on to a statement declaring this as an 
unhumanitarian thing to do, as holding our husbands.

GILMAN: Dr. Hargrove, were you released upon payment of a 

HARGROVE: Was I released after payment of ransom? 


HARGROVE: Yes. It was paid twice.

GILMAN: How much was the ransom?


GILMAN: How much was the ransom that you paid? 

HARGROVE: I'd rather not say that here in public, but the common 
rule of negotiation that professionals use is, they wind up usually 
paying 10 percent -- about 10 percent of what the initial demand 
was. My ransom was considerably less than 10 percent. The initial 
demand was $6 million. 

GILMAN: What work were you doing at the time you were seized? 

HARGROVE: I was the head of communication and publications at the 
International Center for Tropical Agriculture. But I was in charge of 
the scientific publication, the public awareness to try to make people 
aware of the need for international agricultural research, and the 
visitors' services. I'm an agricultural editor and an agricultural 
journalist by profession, and I ran that operation for this 
international company. 

GILMAN: Were you able to communicate with your family at all 
while you were held hostage?

HARGROVE: Oh, no. Except for the proof of life video that was made to 
give, and twice when they had me -- they made me write letters, 
you know, to my family, that were all part of the ransom demand. 
But that's all. I never got any word, any communication from my 
family at all. They got two letters and one video from me over the 
year. Each time, you know, it was a big thing. They came up and 

GILMAN: And who negotiated on your behalf? 

HARGROVE: Well, my family, essentially. My wife, my two sons, our 
next-door neighbors, who were Germans, with their two children. 
Then, along with two professional negotiators that were hired from 

GILMAN: What year were you released?

HARGROVE: I was released in 1995.

GILMAN: How long were you held?

HARGROVE: Eleven months.

GILMAN: Did they inflict any torture on you in any manner, or any 
pressure on you?

HARGROVE: Well, I was never physically tortured, but I would 
consider being locked in a box this wide, this long, this wide, 6 feet 
high, no windows, for as long as about 48 hours at a time, pretty bad 
treatment. Because as I said, I was on a -- after I got out, then they 
would let meNew Tribes Mission. These are probably some of the 
longest-held American hostages in the history of our nation. And 
they should not be ignored because they were not wealthy, they are 
not well-positioned, they are not government officials. But we should 
care about them, and we should do everything we can to secure their 
release and bring their situation to the attention of every 
international organization and country. 

So, I want to thank you again, Mr. Chairman. Unless our witnesses 
have any comments, again, I'd just say thank you from the bottom of 
my heart. 

GILMAN: Well, thank you, Mr. Mica, for assisting us in arranging for 
the witnesses to be with us. And I want to thank Dr. Hargrove and 
Dan Germann and Tania Rich and Mrs. Mankins, Mrs. Tenenoff for 
being -- making yourselves available to us so that we could explore 
this issue. 

And we will keep this issue before us in the Congress and we will try 
to do our best to help you seek the release of your loved ones. 

Thank you very much. The hearing stands adjourned. 


???? - Indicates Speaker Unkown
- Could not make out what was being said. off mike - Indicates Could 
not make out what was being said. ++++++++

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