Plan Colombia, the multi-billion dollar U.S. plan to fight drug production and trafficking in Colombia, will definitely be cut back, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Johnson said Wednesday.
In an interview with television station Caracol, the anti-narcotics boss of the White House said that cuts in Plan Colombia were inevitagble, not because of human rights violations in Colombia, but because of the financial crisis and the need for help to fight drugs in Mexico, where the drug war is soaring and taking thousands of lives.
“Right now, Obama’s focus is on Mexico and the extremely serious security problems this country has because of drug trafficking. In fact, he will travel to the Mexican capital to meet with his counterpart Felipe Calderon next month,” Johnson told Caracol.
The effectiveness of Plan Colombia, that has cost the U.S. taxpayer US$7 billion since it was initiated by the Clinton administration in 2000, is being criticized by the Democratic majority in U.S.Congress.
“The war on drugs is a horrible mistake. Here in the U.S. we have not been able to prevent our people from consuming drugs and destroying their lives,” Democratic senator Connie Mack said.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on the other hand speaks of an “incredible success.” According to former DEA operations director Michael Braun “the strengthening of the security forces in Colombia is evident.”
Success or not, the amount of dollars that have been pumped into Colombia to combat drug trafficking already has been going down, Johnson said. “The last two or three years there’s been a reduction of help. Programs that Washington financed have been nationalized,” the White House anti-narcotics boss said.
Meanwhile, 72 million dollar of Plan Colombia was frozen because the U.S. is not satisfied with Colombian efforts to prosecute members of the security forces that are suspected of murdering innocent civilians, El Tiempo reported Wednesday.
Colombia’s Interior and Justice Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio regrets this and told Colombian press it would be unfair to punish an entire country because “five or ten” members of the security forces “broke the law”, . Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating at least 700 murders allegedly committed by army officials to make the war against illegal armed groups look more efficient.
The United Nations’ representative in Colombia, Bruno Moro, called on Colombia to change its tactics to battle the drug trade. According to the UN official, the ever changing strategy of the drug lords calls for new ideas to decrease the drug production and trafficking in the country.