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In 1999, the administration of Andres Pastrana and the United
States had developed “Plan Colombia” a “Marshall-style plan,” used to combat
the problems of drug cultivation, insurgency, and lack of economic development.

With the backing of the United States, the main objectives of this plan were to
reduce production and trafficking of illegal drugs by 50% in a six-year period
and to improve security conditions from armed rebel groups. To further
discourage coca production, the United States and Colombia agreed to the Andean
Free-Trade Pact, which lowers US tariffs on agricultural goods from Andean
countries. Moreover, rebel forces known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) and other groups opposing them (National Liberation Army (ELN),
United Self-defense forces of Colombia (AUC), and criminal bands) are
responsible for the killings and kidnappings of tens of thousands and of people
in Colombia.

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According from a report from the US government accountability
office from 2000 and 2008 funding by the US government for the military
component of plan was around US$540 million/year, while the Colombian
government has invested around US$812 million/year around 1.2% of Colombia’s
annual GDP. Results show that Plan Colombia was effective in decreasing the
amount of coca plants, but ineffective in decreasing cocaine production. Also,
violence and human rights violations by armed rebel groups has fallen as well.

Recently, with the peace accords made between the Colombian government of
President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC, the new program “Peace Colombia” has replaced “Plan Colombia,”
changing US foreign policy within the country.


The US Approach in Colombia

As the United States is one of the largest drug consumers in the
world they view drugs particularly cocaine as a threat to US national security
that undermines US economy, value, and identity. With this in mind, the US uses
an approach that assumes that if there is no supply then there would be no
demand, contradicting the capitalist concept of supply-demand. US drug policy
is divided into two groups from policies of control to policies of aid. In
Colombia, the United States has been using its political and economic influence
mainly through economic assistance since Andean states generally have a weak
economy when compared to their counterpart. This approach tends to be overly
realistic with policies following the self-interests of the US rather than host


Plan Colombia under Bush and Obama

After 9/11, the United States began to focus on
the international fight against terrorism, losing interest in Colombia’s war on
drugs. With a change in viewpoint the United States began to see the armed
rebel groups such as FARC as “narco-terrorists,” changing the focus of US
engagement which was only about the drugs. President George Bush along with
congress began to allocate funds to counter-insurgency. This particular shift
changed US policy, from a “war on drug” to a “war on terror.” With no statutory
ending date for the plan, the plan programs continued through the Andean
Counterdrug Initiative (ACI). During the Bush’s second term, the administration
changed its focus to face the economic issues by implementing a Free Trade Area
(FTA) within the Americas.


Later on, under President Barack Obama there has been
significant changes since the Bush’s administration strategy was unsuccessful.

Military cooperation with Colombia has increased with the Obama administration.

Moreover, Obama focus more on rebuilding ties with other Latin American nations
to decrease US strategic dependence on Colombian alliance. Overall, the
administration and the US congress in 2010 has signaled intentions to turn over
the majority of Plan Colombia’s responsibilities to the Colombian Government.


Plan Colombia US Funding

The Andean Regional Initiative (ARI) was proposed by President
George Bush in April 2001. The proposal asked for US$882 million, with 45% to
Colombia and the rest to neighboring nations to contain the violence within the
region. With the approved version issued by the US congress in December 2001,
$783million USD was allocated to the ARI, with around $215 million being sent
to the USAID to assist and promote economic and social development. The US
funding components of Plan Colombia includes reduction of illicit Narcotics and
improve security (4,860 million USD), promotion of social and economic justice
(1,032 million USD), and promotion of rule of law (238 million USD). From
2000-20008 the United States has provided around $6 billion USD to both
military and nonmilitary assistance which is managed through different US
departments and agencies.



USAID Successes since 2000

30% decrease in
rural poverty levels

Increase in private
investment in rural Colombia, $600 millions of private capital with around $47
millions of USAID investments

350,00 hectares of
farmland with licit crops to provide security and economic benefit to farmers

$487 million dollars
invested in 1,400 community-led projects creating new economic opportunities
and strengthen communities from areas that has faced conflict.

Ensured government
protections for individuals at risk or threatened (journalists, union leaders,
municipal leaders, etc)

Establishment of
more than 100 justice centers

Supported the
reintegration of 13,000 demobilized ex combatants and more than 20,000 people
back into society

Ensured financial
compensation from the Colombian government to victims


“According to Derek Reveron, a professor at the Naval War
college, the plan is a failure in terms of stemming the flow of drugs. On the
other hand, if judged by preventing state and supporting a fragile democracy,
it might be considered a success. (Sramkova pg 83)” From this, after
decades-long campaign on counternarcotic, Colombia has experienced new and
improved security especially when the Colombian government had signed a peace
accord with FARC. AS stated in the Monroe doctrine the US mentioned that Latin
America belonged to its sphere of influence. Its influence comes from economic
and political arrangements and agreements that follows their interests. With US
involvement within the country, we see that its primary interest in Colombia
follows strategic geopolitical and economic fundamentals. Overall, the United
states was able to improve security and development, but the drug problem is
far from being resolved.

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