Plan Colombia should not be seen as a model for US foreign policy in Mexico as its success in Colombia is “greatly overstated,” a group of Washington-based think tanks on Latin America said Thursday.
The report, compiled by the Center for International Policy, the Washington Office on Latin America and the Latin America Working Group, issues a warning against the temptation for policy makers and politicians in Washington to see Plan Colombia as a success to be replicated in U.S. policy in Mexico.
According the study the “successes” of Plan Colombia have been greatly overstated, with many improvements in security, drug production and human rights being incorrectly attributed directly to U.S. foreign policy in the country.
“If you look at Plan Colombia’s impact on the total tonnage of drugs that go to the market of international consumers, or the total number of hectares of coca in Colombia, I think that without risk of angering our Colombian friends we can say that Plan Colombia has not had an impact on the mitigation of production or trafficking,” The study quoted the Mexican ambassador to Washington as saying.
The report also argues that the U.S. needs to devise policies that prioritize the protection of local populations and the preservation of human rights.
“The success of the past several years in Colombia is only a partial, and fragile, victory at best and it has come at an exceptionally high human and institutional cost,” says the report.
The report argues that the voracious appetite for cocaine in the U.S. has made off shore drug eradication policies particularly inefficient and that it is essential “to clean your own house.” An ongoing failure by the U.S. to invest in prevention and treatment to reduce domestic drug demand has served to seriously undermine anti-drug policies in places such as Colombia and Mexico, the think tanks said.
The report, titled “A Cautionary Tale: Plan Colombia’s Lessons for U.S. policy toward Mexico and Beyond,” argues that the very different political and social contexts of Colombia and Mexico would make the application of the Plan Colombia policy to Mexico ineffectual and potentially destructive for the lives of thousands of Mexicans.
According to the report, “The blueprint and strategy behind the Colombia aid package makes little sense when applied to Mexico.”
Plan Colombia is a multi-million dollar, multi-faceted drug eradication program implemented in 2000 with the intention of combating drug trafficking groups, insurgencies and paramilitary groups in the country. It has been largely hailed as a success in reducing drug violence and reducing coca production.