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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tom Riley / Brian Blake (202) 395–6618
August 2, 2002

DRUG CZAR HAILS BIPARTISAN PASSAGE OF ANDEAN TRADE PREFERENCE ACT

JOHN WALTERS CLAIMS BILL "WILL HELP STIMULATE LEGITIMATE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN THE ANDEAN REGION WHILE REDUCING THE PRODUCTION, TRAFFICKING, AND ABUSE OF ILLICIT DRUGS."

(Washington, D.C.)—John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy, praised Thursday's Senate passage of the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA). The Senate's action has broad implications for efforts to reduce drug use in the United States and the region. Expansion of legitimate business will strengthen economies in the Andean countries and empower governments there to confront the drug trade. Walters said:

"The passage of ATPA demonstrates our commitment to helping the Andean region develop economic alternatives to drug crop production. We know that drug production in this region is tied to increased worldwide abuse of cocaine and heroin and that the United States has a major responsibility to reduce its demand. But as we work to cut the demand for drugs in the United States, we must support our southern neighbors in their efforts to build their economies and promote democracy.

"ATPA will help our Andean neighbors enjoy legitimate economic growth while providing additional strength to act against the purveyors of illegal drugs. To make progress in the fight against illegal drug production we must provide alternative and expanded job opportunities to support economic growth and democratic institutions in the Andean region. For the past ten years, ATPA has been a powerful trade tool in the fight against illicit drug production and trafficking. It helps our Andean allies, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, develop legitimate commercial exports as alternatives to the illegal drug industry-an industry that supplies Colombia's leading terrorist group, the FARC, with over $300 million a year."

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