BÓGOTA -- Inspired by the recently-proposed boost in US military aid to stamp out drugs in Colombia, Colombian Senator José Cañusi has proposed a $500 million demand-eradication package for the United States. From the Senate floor, Cañusi declared that his bill would "eliminate Colombia's drug problem at its source -- the gringo drug user."
Cañusi, a "Third Way" centrist in the mold of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, proudly points out that his five-point plan contains more carrots than sticks. "We want to give druggies every incentive to quit," he said. "If they won't, well, that's what the sticks are for."
Among the senator's innovative incentives:
- "Reading is Psychedelic" ($1.3 million). This program would distribute hundreds of thousands of Gabriel Garcia Marquez novels at rave clubs and other hangouts for hallucinators. "If they want to journey to the center of their mind, the easiest, safest trip is 'One Hundred Years of Solitude,'" said Cañusi.
- Hobby substitution ($1.2 million). "By teaching crackheads and junkies pinochle, soccer and the full repertoire of Latin dances, we will give them something to enjoy besides crack and smack. Any guy who thinks heroin is the ultimate high hasn't put on a puffy shirt and meringued the night away with sensuous señoritas."
- Education ($1.1 million). "We will distribute flyers with the following message superimposed on Dirty Harry's face: 'Drugs are dangerous. Don't believe me? Keep using and make my day.' It's not as catchy as Nancy Reagan's 'Just say no,' but it gets the point across."
For those drug users who won't bite on these juicy carrots, Cañusi's bill includes two whacking sticks:
- Aerial spraying with machine guns ($250 million). Special forces pilots in Blackhawk helicopters will hover over known places of drug-taking activity, such as country clubs, congressional offices and fashion shows, and gun down the druggies when they step out for air.
- Ground-based death squads ($246.4 million). "The death squads will operate vast networks of informants to discover who is taking drugs," explains Cañusi. "Once a user has been identified, the death squads will know what to do."
In an exclusive interview after the Senate session, Cañusi addressed some of the controversial aspects of his proposal.
Q: Doesn't your bill constitute intervention in the internal affairs of the US?
A: Yes, but our Bolivar Doctrine grants us the right to intervene when our national security is at stake, and your druggies have rendered it so.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish?
A: A drug-free America.
Q: When you say "America," are you referring to all of the Americas, North and South?
A: Don't be absurd! True, we South Americans are annoyed by your practice of using "America" as a synonym for the United States. But my answer was in keeping with your custom, for it is only the US that desires to be "drug free."
Q: Colombia does not wish to be drug free?
A: Please. My brother Alfredo and his wife, they enjoy their marijuana. Maybe two or three times a month. Me, I enjoy wine with dinner. I see nothing wrong with any of this, but if the gringos wish to live drug free, the Colombian people would like to help.
Q: I don't think the US wishes to be free of alcohol.
A: Correct. The US wishes to bar addictive, mind-altering drugs manufactured by Colombians while expanding domestic and international markets for addictive, mind-altering drugs manufactured by the Busch and Coors cartels. We have brought this to the attention of the WTO.
Q: Do you envision a key role for paramilitary death squads?
A: Yes, and here we owe you a deep debt of gratitude. Throughout the Third World your CIA and special forces have worked with local armies and intelligence agencies to hone the death-squad technique. If political activists, labor agitators and peasant organizers can be eliminated, why not drug users?
Q: Who will man the squads?
A: Yankees. Colombians who have trained at the School of the Americas will return to the School to instruct your soldiers.
Q: Why not let Americans -- sorry, I mean Yankees -- train Yankees? Are the Colombian teachers really necessary?
A: Frankly, no. But by participating directly we Colombians can prove we are indeed "good neighbors."
Q: Like Mister Rogers?
A: Yes, but with an Uzi under his sweater.
Dennis Hans is a satirist, pundit and adjunct professor of mass communications and American foreign policy at the University of South Florida.