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The War on Drugs. Colombia. US Drug War in Colombia. United States has been pursuing an anti-drug (supply-side) policy toward Colombia since the 1970s US Drug War Policy in Colombia, Prior to Year 2000 Crop eradication has been a major component of policy

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US Drug War in Colombia

  • United States has been pursuing an anti-drug (supply-side) policy toward Colombia since the 1970s

  • US Drug War Policy in Colombia, Prior to Year 2000

    • Crop eradication has been a major component of policy

    • Extradition of drug traffickers a key US goal in 1980s


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Impact of Eradication Policy

  • Despite fumigation, area under cultivation has increased annually (until recently)

  • Non-drug crops, even those that are part of alternative development programs (models to get producers away from coca), have been destroyed

  • Growing concern in Colombia about environmental and health consequences of aerial eradication


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Impact of Extradition Policy

  • Punishment of Colombians in US seen as protection against corruption by US

  • Extradition seen as an affront to national sovereignty by some

  • Source of fear for narcotraffickers; led to narcoterrorism (deliberate acts of violence by traffickers to weaken the state & make it overturn extradition laws)

  • Most society-wide violence in 1980s due to extradition issue


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Elements of Colombian Policy

  • Colombia is the primary recipient of U.S. anti- narcotics assistance in the hemisphere

  • The U.S. now gathers intelligence throughout Colombia, which it shares with the Colombian military intelligence, which has the worst human rights record within the Colombian armed forces and has the closest links to right-wing paramilitary groups

  • The U.S. is heavily involved in training and advising the Colombian military and police forces: it has about three hundred military personnel on the ground in Colombia at any given time

  • Increasing use of private military corporations.


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Funding: Andean Counterdrug Initiative

FY 2002

April 2002

COLOMBIA$380.500M

BOLIVIA$81.000M

BRAZIL $6.000M

ECUADOR$25.000M

PANAMA$5.000M

PERU$142.500M

VENEZUELA $5.000M

TOTAL$645.000M


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U.S. Support for Plan Colombia

April 2002

Boost Governing Capacity - $122 million

  • Human Rights Protection

  • Administration of Justice Programs

  • Security for Witnesses, Judges and Prosecutors

  • Investigative Training

  • Implementing Initiative

  • in the South - $449 million

  • Train & Equip 2 CN BNs

  • 14 BlackHawk Helos

  • 15 UH-1N Helos

  • 25 Huey II Helos

  • Intel Support

  • Force Protection

  • Secure Communications

  • $25 M in Alt Development

  • Alternative Economic Development

  • $174 million

  • Voluntary Eradication/Licit Alternatives

  • Local Government Strengthening

  • Support for Internally Displaced

  • Bolivia ($85 million)

  • Ecuador ($8 million)

  • Colombian National Police

  • Support - $116 million

  • 2 BlackHawk Helos

  • 12 Huey II Helos

  • Upgrade Existing Aircraft

  • Spray Aircraft

  • Training

  • Drug Trafficking

  • Interdiction - $459 million

  • Aircraft and Airfield Upgrades

  • Ground Based Radar

  • Secure Communications

  • Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Others

  • FOLs (Manta, Curaçao)

Total Funding

$1,319 million*

* from the supplemental passed by Congress on July 13, 2000.





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Details of the Plan

  • Emphasis is "push" into southern Colombia, where coca is grown for the production of cocaine

  • This area predominantly controlled by the FARC guerillas

  • Previously, U.S. counter-narcotics efforts in this region focused primarily on aerial fumigation of coca crops, working with the Colombian national police

  • In Plan Colombia, U.S. government is essentially setting up, equipping, and training three counternarcotics battalions within the Colombian army, tasked with pushing the FARC out of this region of the country and thereby cutting off the income it derives from coca production


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Key Problems with the Plan

  • U.S. policy is contradictory: it presses for human rights action while giving aid to those implicated in violations.

  • U.S. military aid is ostensibly for counternarcotics operations but will more than likely support counterinsurgency and result in human rights violations.

  • The narco-guerrilla thesis (unsupported by facts) was a necessary argument for supporting aid to the Colombian Army since the U.S. Congress wanted nothing to do with counterinsurgency.


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What Does the Future Hold?

Last week in Colombia:

  • Tens of thousands of people march in Bogota, launching a campaign against a proposed constitutional amendment allowing President Uribe Velez to run for re-election in 2006.

  • Miguel Arroyave, a top leader of Colombia's paramilitaries, is assassinated, throwing into further doubt the ongoing peace process with the government. The bodies of Arroyave and his bodyguards were found in remote parts of the eastern province of Meta. One of the theories being put forward by police is that he was killed by some of his own men, opposed to peace talks with the government.

  • The Colombian Prosecutor's Office (Procuraduria) present charges against three officials of the Colombian air force for bombing a building in the municipality of El Carmen (Norte de Santander). A ten-year-old boy was killed and two more injured in the attack that happened in February 2003.

  • At the same time that 400 unarmed indigenous guards were arriving in Bogota from the southwestern province of Cauca, the Attorney General's office freed Alcibiades Escue, one of the indigenous leaders detained two weeks ago prior to the indigenous ‘Minga' march that has mobilised more than 60,000 people and that the government had tried to stop.


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