In 1999, the administration of Andres Pastrana and the UnitedStates had developed “Plan Colombia” a “Marshall-style plan,” used to combatthe problems of drug cultivation, insurgency, and lack of economic development.With the backing of the United States, the main objectives of this plan were toreduce production and trafficking of illegal drugs by 50% in a six-year periodand to improve security conditions from armed rebel groups.
To furtherdiscourage coca production, the United States and Colombia agreed to the AndeanFree-Trade Pact, which lowers US tariffs on agricultural goods from Andeancountries. Moreover, rebel forces known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces ofColombia (FARC) and other groups opposing them (National Liberation Army (ELN),United Self-defense forces of Colombia (AUC), and criminal bands) areresponsible for the killings and kidnappings of tens of thousands and of peoplein Colombia. According from a report from the US government accountabilityoffice from 2000 and 2008 funding by the US government for the militarycomponent of plan was around US$540 million/year, while the Colombiangovernment has invested around US$812 million/year around 1.2% of Colombia’sannual GDP. Results show that Plan Colombia was effective in decreasing theamount 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 ofPresident 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 ColombiaAs the United States is one of the largest drug consumers in theworld they view drugs particularly cocaine as a threat to US national securitythat undermines US economy, value, and identity. With this in mind, the US usesan approach that assumes that if there is no supply then there would be nodemand, contradicting the capitalist concept of supply-demand. US drug policyis divided into two groups from policies of control to policies of aid. InColombia, the United States has been using its political and economic influencemainly through economic assistance since Andean states generally have a weakeconomy when compared to their counterpart. This approach tends to be overlyrealistic with policies following the self-interests of the US rather than hostcountry. Plan Colombia under Bush and ObamaAfter 9/11, the United States began to focus onthe international fight against terrorism, losing interest in Colombia’s war ondrugs.
With a change in viewpoint the United States began to see the armedrebel groups such as FARC as “narco-terrorists,” changing the focus of USengagement which was only about the drugs. President George Bush along withcongress began to allocate funds to counter-insurgency. This particular shiftchanged US policy, from a “war on drug” to a “war on terror.” With no statutoryending date for the plan, the plan programs continued through the AndeanCounterdrug Initiative (ACI). During the Bush’s second term, the administrationchanged 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 beensignificant 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 nationsto decrease US strategic dependence on Colombian alliance.
Overall, theadministration and the US congress in 2010 has signaled intentions to turn overthe majority of Plan Colombia’s responsibilities to the Colombian Government. Plan Colombia US FundingThe Andean Regional Initiative (ARI) was proposed by PresidentGeorge Bush in April 2001. The proposal asked for US$882 million, with 45% toColombia and the rest to neighboring nations to contain the violence within theregion. With the approved version issued by the US congress in December 2001,$783million USD was allocated to the ARI, with around $215 million being sentto the USAID to assist and promote economic and social development. The USfunding components of Plan Colombia includes reduction of illicit Narcotics andimprove security (4,860 million USD), promotion of social and economic justice(1,032 million USD), and promotion of rule of law (238 million USD). From2000-20008 the United States has provided around $6 billion USD to bothmilitary and nonmilitary assistance which is managed through different USdepartments and agencies. USAID Successes since 2000· 30% decrease inrural poverty levels· Increase in privateinvestment in rural Colombia, $600 millions of private capital with around $47millions of USAID investments· 350,00 hectares offarmland with licit crops to provide security and economic benefit to farmers· $487 million dollarsinvested in 1,400 community-led projects creating new economic opportunitiesand strengthen communities from areas that has faced conflict.
· Ensured governmentprotections for individuals at risk or threatened (journalists, union leaders,municipal leaders, etc)· Establishment ofmore than 100 justice centers· Supported thereintegration of 13,000 demobilized ex combatants and more than 20,000 peopleback into society· Ensured financialcompensation from the Colombian government to victimsConclusion”According to Derek Reveron, a professor at the Naval Warcollege, the plan is a failure in terms of stemming the flow of drugs. On theother hand, if judged by preventing state and supporting a fragile democracy,it might be considered a success. (Sramkova pg 83)” From this, afterdecades-long campaign on counternarcotic, Colombia has experienced new andimproved security especially when the Colombian government had signed a peaceaccord with FARC. AS stated in the Monroe doctrine the US mentioned that LatinAmerica belonged to its sphere of influence. Its influence comes from economicand political arrangements and agreements that follows their interests.
With USinvolvement within the country, we see that its primary interest in Colombiafollows strategic geopolitical and economic fundamentals. Overall, the Unitedstates was able to improve security and development, but the drug problem isfar from being resolved.