[The following is a press release from the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights monitoring organization. DRCNet is distributing their press release as a public service; please note, however, that the two organizations are not otherwise affiliated.]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 1996
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
400 C Street, NE Washington, DC 20002
Tel (202) 544-8045
Fax (202) 546-5288
Contact: Coletta Youngers Bill Spencer (202) 544-8045
Human Rights Group Questions Drug-Czar Choice in the Absence of Policy Change
The Washington Office on Latin America released the following statement concerning President Clinton's nomination of Army General Barry R. McCaffrey as the nation's "Drug Czar." As Commander in Chief of the United States Southern Command, General McCaffrey has overseen the U.S. military's antinarcotics operations in Latin America.
"The nomination of General McCaffrey as the nation's 'Drug Czar' may take the steam out of recent Republican attacks on President Clinton for abandoning the war on drugs, but will not by itself solve the problem of drug abuse and drug-related violence. 'General McCaffrey has an impressive record of service to this country,' said George R. Vickers, Executive Director of the Washington Office on Latin America. 'But what is needed is a fundamental shift in U.S. anti-narcotics policies, away from failed military strategies that have had little impact on the supply of illicit drugs coming into the United States.'
"The nomination of a military officer to lead U.S. anti-narcotics efforts is particularly troubling at a time when the involvement of Latin American militaries in anti-drug campaigns has led to widespread corruption and abuse of human rights. Civilian governments in the Andean region are attempting to keep restive militaries in the barracks. 'Regardless of his personal qualities, McCaffrey's nomination symbolizes the misguided militarization of U.S. drug policy,' notes WOLA Senior Associate Colleta Younger, 'and suggests a continued erosion of civilian control over law enforcement efforts in this field.'"
The "Drug Czar" heads the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which coordinates anti-drug efforts. His nomination must be confirmed by the United States Senate.
The Washington Office on Latin America has monitored human rights and United States policy in Latin America since 1974, and has produced numerous reports on U.S. anti-narcotics policy in the Andes.
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