April 27, 2001


Another Drug War Lesson in Peru

by Jacob G. Hornberger

The war on drugs has now taken two more casualties - 35-year-old missionary Veronica Bowers and her 7-month old child Charity. Last Friday, April 20, a Peruvian interceptor jet attacked and shot down a defenseless single-engine Cessna in which Bowers and her baby were traveling. Surviving the attack were her husband James, their six-year old son Cory, and the pilot Kevin Donaldson, who was shot in both legs.

While details over the attack are still surfacing, what is clear beyond any doubt is that the attack and the killings are a direct consequence of the war on drugs, one of the most destructive wars that governments have ever waged against their own people. Under a cooperative drug-war program, a U.S. military plane, staffed by CIA officials and a Peruvian military man, reported the unarmed plane to the Peruvian military. Accounts differ as to what happened after that but everyone agrees that the CIA plane was operating in Peru pursuant to the war on drugs, that the CIA plane reported the Cessna to the Peruvian military, and that the attack was designed to help bring "victory" to the war on drugs.

How many more deaths must be suffered before people finally realize that this immoral and destructive war is destroying not only the United States but Latin America as well? When is enough enough? Will shooting down small planes, even those with drugs, finally bring "victory" to the war on drugs?

Isn't that what we have been told for the last 30 years every time a drug kingpin has been arrested or whenever another "record" drug bust has taken place? After decades of death, destruction, government corruption, regrets, sorrow, and abject failure, there is no better time than the present to finally bring the war on drugs to an end. We owe it to ourselves and to the people of Latin America. And we owe it to the memory of Veronica and Charity Bowers.

Mr. Hornberger is president of The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) in Fairfax, Virginia.

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