Plan Colombia, he U.S. financial and military aid program aimed at helping Colombia fight drug trafficking and leftist guerrillas, donated $8 billion worth of aid to the Andean nation over the last ten years.
The aid program, which entered its tenth year on Tuesday, initially focused on eliminating narcotics production and aimed to cut ilegal drug plantations by half in five years.
In 2002, following a change authorized by the U.S. Congress, the aid began to be used to combat “narcoterrorism.”
According to El Tiempo, government statistics show an 84% reduction in terrorists attacks, an 88% reduction in kidnappings and 45% reduction in homicides since 2002.
“At the time we started to work in this there were many doubts about the challenge that faced Colombian society. There was a security situation related to three types of insurgency, a large economic crisis, where they were already saying that the war of guerillas had become a war of movements. Looking at it in retrospect I think it was a great success,” explained Arturo Valenzuela, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
The increase in national security is reflected in the increase in foreign investment, which has risen over $5 billion from $2.123 billion in 2002 to $7.201 billion in 2009-2010, according to La Silla Vacia.
A major criticism of Plan Colombia is that it resulted in the displacement of drug production instead of its eradication.
Peruvian President Alan Garcia said his nation “suffers the effects of Plan Colombia.”
“Over six or seven years the U.S. have invested $5 billion in Colombia to eradicate drug trafficking and attack cocaine cultivation. That’s why some production sectors of coca leaf production have been established in [the border region of] Putumayo, taking advantage of the jungle and so, due to this effect, if a lot of money is squeezed into Colombia, evidently there will be a displacement [into Peru]” Garcia explained.
In April the Colombian government released information showing that Colombia had around 68,000 hectares of coca production in 2009, the lowest level since 1996, and representing a 16% decrease from 2008 levels.
Since Plan Colombia was first implemented, there has been a 58% reduction in coca production.