Plan Colombia is a failure according to a study conducted by independent Colombian think tank organization Fedesarrollo.
The study sought to analyze the impact of drug trafficking on Colombia and determine if Plan Colombia had had an impact on the chain of production and prohibition of cocaine.
Fedesarrollo found that the multi-billion-dollar counter-narcotics
aid package needs a policy shift away from the spraying of coca plants.
Daniel Mejia, a professor at the Universidad de los Andes, who was involved in Fedesarrollo’s research, said that a hectare of coca plants must be sprayed 40 times before it is destroyed.
“If the objective is to reduce the amount of cocaine that reaches the consumer, then Plan Colombia has not worked, because the producers have devised all sorts of strategies to increase the productivity of coca plants,” the professor said.
The study recommended resources be channeled away from the spraying of coca crops and military control of land, and towards stopping the flow of drugs from reaching consumers.
Vice Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon defended Plan Colombia,
saying the government had achieved its objectives. He added that all
that was required was to fine tune the system for measuring success in
coca plant eradication.
Pinzon criticized Fedesarrollo’s study as lacking in statistics, because it only analyzed the situation between 2000 and 2006
“It must be remembered that in the
past year, the process has been consolidated and we have seen
significant results in development and defense,” the official said.
According to Fedesarrollo cocaine producers earn between 36 to 40 million dollars a year after production costs, which include fighting the armed forces. The key traffickers are estimated to earn 11.2 billion dollars a year.
Fedesarrollo sees this as an indication that the objective of stopping drug trafficking has not been achieved.
The study also estimated that the FARC controls 50 to 55 percent of cocaine trafficking in Colombia, while the paramilitary control 45 to 50 percent.
Mejia said that 1.5 percent of Colombian’s GDP, 1.2 billion dollars a year, was invested in the fight against drugs. Three quarters were contributed by the Colombian government and the rest by the U.S.
He added that the domestic security situation had improved but that “the one that’s losing out, in our opinion, is the U.S. government because the quantity of cocaine that gets through their border has not reduced”.
The academic was in favor of legalization as a means of overcoming the problem of drug trafficking.
“We must completely rethink the fight against drug production and
the trafficking of drugs, and begin to raise before the international community
the idea of potential legalization,” he said.