President Clinton, in a major speech to the United Nations, called Sunday for a global crackdown on international drug and terrorism gangs, and backed up his call with stiff financial penalties aimed at the Cali, Colombia, cocaine cartel.
Charging that “increasingly interconnected groups” are trafficking worldwide in drugs, crime, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, Clinton outlined a series of steps for fighting back.
The first step came at midnight Saturday, when Clinton signed an executive order freezing all U.S.-based financial assets held by four individuals known as principal leaders in the Cali cartel, as well as assets held by 76 foreign businesses said to be front groups for the cartel.
In his speech, the president also strongly affirmed the United Nations’ value to both the United States and the world, as the organization - under fire from the Republican Congress - celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Congress is trying to cut U.S. funding and is refusing to pay $1.3 billion in back dues to the United Nations. But Clinton voiced confidence that America will meet its U.N. obligations in the end.
The United Nations must reform itself, Clinton warned, but he said that America’s commitment to it will not flag.
“The United Nations has not been all that we wished it would be, but it has been a force for good and a bulwark against evil. … And so, for another 50 years and beyond, you can count the United States in,” he vowed.
As modern technology turns the world ever more into a “global village,” Clinton said, it can speed trouble as well as progress.
“Trouble on the far end of town soon becomes a plague on everyone’s house. We can’t free our own neighborhoods from drug-related crime without the help of countries where the drugs are produced,” Clinton said. “We can’t track down terrorists without assistance from other governments.”
Clinton said one aim of his order is to “put on notice nations that tolerate money laundering.” He said, “criminal enterprises are moving vast sums” through the international financial system, adding: “We must not allow them to wash the blood off profits from the sale of drugs, from terror, or organized crimes.”
Nations that do not comply with international standards against money laundering may be targeted for sanctions, Clinton said.
The president also invited all nations to join in a declaration against international crime. It would include a “no sanctuary pledge” to signal to global criminals and terrorists “you have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide,” Clinton said.
Clinton is to meet Russian Pres ident Boris Yeltsin today at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park.