Who Can Boast of the Success of Plan Colombia?

A recent headline from the press agency EFE notified the country that the United States and Colombia will soon celebrate 15 years of Plan Colombia in the White House.

The event will take place, according to the information, on February 4, 2016, in Washington, and its main attendees are Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia. Other invitees are former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, and the Colombians Andrés Pastrana and Álvaro Uribe.

According to statements by former President Andrés Pastrana to the same agency, it is strictly about celebrating the successes of Plan Colombia, agreed 15 years ago by President Clinton and himself. According to Pastrana, the successes he refers to are none other than “the strengthening of the military forces of the country as never before in history, which allowed us to have a democratic security policy and bring the guerrillas to the negotiating table.” He also assured that the plan allowed the strengthening of institutions that were “on the brink”, a “successful” social policy and “the free trade agreement with the US, which was the basis of Plan Colombia.”

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Pastrana’s declarations bring to mind the statements of General John F. Kelly, head of the Southern Command of the United States, who, in an article published in May last year in the Miami New Herald, said that Plan Colombia, the military aid package from the United States of an estimated nine billion dollars and approved in 2000, has “shown them the way” to defeat Islamic State, another “great challenge for the United States and its allies. ”

General Kelly, who entitled his article The solution in Colombia deserves support, says something revealing: “Colombia has taught us that the battle of the story is perhaps the most important of all.” That is, the most important thing is not what actually happens, but what we achieve to instil in the minds of people. A war can be lost or fail in its purpose, but what really counts is what you make the public opinion believe.

It is clear by now that the proclaimed success of Plan Colombia are only part of the battle of the story, one of whose main scenes will be the celebration of its anniversary.

This conclusion is easy to draw, since from the beginning the plan was based on falsehoods. As stated earlier this century, Plan Colombia was primarily aimed at combating drug trafficking within the general US strategy of the war against drugs. Because of Colombia being the main exporter of cocaine to the United States by then, the Plan appeared as a strong economic and military support from the USA to the government and the country, who were making an even bigger effort in the already long confrontation with the mafia cartels.

Fifteen years later, the reality is much the same regarding the production and export of cocaine and other narcotics from Colombia.

In mid-2015, when the monitoring report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was published, presented together with the Colombian government, its summary, in brief, was that coca crops and potential production of cocaine in Colombia increased in 2014. The first grew a 44%, as they increased from 48,000 hectares in 2013 to 69,000 hectares last year, while production of the alkaloid increased from 290 tons to 442, which means an increase of 52%. Sad picture to be qualified as a success. Besides, news reports show how in many regions farmers have abandoned the coca crops to replace them by marijuana, which grows exorbitantly due to other factors.

It should be borne in mind that one of the fundamental pillars of the plan for the eradication of illicit crops was focused on PECIG or Program to eradicate illicit crops, despite many reports of international institutions, NGOs, scholars and communities about serious affectation to human health, as well as environmental, social and economic harm, not only in Colombia but also in neighboring countries like Ecuador.

Well, in April 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans. Based on this information, the Colombian Ministry of Health recommended the Ministry of Justice to suspend the spraying. And on May 14, 2015, the National Drug Council decided to suspend aerial spraying of glyphosate against crops deemed illicit, facing the overwhelming evidence that the allegations were true. Who can then boast of the successes of Plan Colombia?

Meanwhile, according to the statements made by Andrés Pastrana, one of its mayor achievements was the unprecedented strengthening of the Colombian armed forces and the democratic security policy, which forced the guerrillas to sit down at the negotiating table. Surprising cynicism of this former President, knowing full well that when Plan Colombia was conceived and started to be implemented, the FARC-EP was in the midst of a peace process with his government. Mr. Pastrana knows perfectly well that it was rather the inconsiderate and shameless implementation of that plan, which embittered and finally broke down the peace process in El Caguan.

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What everyone knew by then was that Plan Colombia was not what it was said to be in public, but that it consisted of a huge counterinsurgency operation that sought absurdly two things. The first of them, the military defeat of the guerrillas, particularly the FARC-EP. And secondly, to provide the Colombian state with a crushing military, judicial, political and social apparatus of repression, which allowed, by force, to ensure the full implementation of the neoliberal economic plans arranged by the IMF and the World Bank. Pastrana’s cynical statement, saying that the foundation of Plan Colombia was the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, is no coincidence.

He had already taken off his mask, when in his memoirs about that period, he acknowledged that the purpose of the peace process in El Caguán mainly a distractor role, to gain time, while the Colombian military apparatus was growing to definitively defeat the insurgency. In that sense it is rather the opposite assertion. As for the defeat of this, the Colombia Plan proved in practice its absolute failure. Before reaching the victory, the Colombian armed conflict reached its highest peak in history, resulting in the most horrific campaign of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the most abhorrent violation of human rights by the Colombian State, against millions of compatriots who paid with their blood, their dispossession and suffering costs that adventure.

In early 2014, the Victims Unit of the Attorney General’s Office, a body inclined to award the insurgency the highest percentage of crimes on account of the conflict, published its figures for the victims of the Colombian conflict in the period between 1984 and 2013. During the period in which Plan Colombia was implemented, the company recorded 5,368,138 cases of forced displacement, 636,184 homicides, 93,165 enforced disappearances, among other long lists of horrors that the governments of the United States and Colombia will surely be celebrating February 4 as one of their greatest achievements.

While in 1985 the number of victims attributable to the conflict reached the number of 11,971 and the sum of all of them between that year and 1999 reached 1,140,661; in 2000, the first year of the implementation of Plan Colombia, produced the impressive figure of 455,776 victims. And the sum of all victims from that year to 2013, i.e. during the implementation of the plan that makes the ones who meet to celebrate its achievements so proud, produced the frightening number of 5,130,816 victims, i.e. five times more victims than all those produced by the conflict before that criminal monster called Plan Colombia entered into force.

For its part, the National Center of Historical Memory, created by the administration of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, reported 1982 massacres between 1980 and 2012, i.e. a total of 5.1 massacres per month, and we all know that that figure began to grow dramatically in the early 1990s, reaching its highest degree of dementia at the beginning of this century, precisely coinciding with the entry into force of Plan Colombia. Not once in this country, a combat was reported between the strengthened Colombian armed forces and paramilitary groups, which have caused the vast majority of the killings of humble Colombians.

No need to refer to the extrajudicial executions, euphemistically called false positives, unpunished killings of unarmed civilians by the National Army, to present them as guerrillas killed in combat. It is no secret that this practice became systematic after the entry into force of Plan Colombia.

It is no surprise that the US government cites its lackeys to celebrate their worst practices with them. The long and painful experience in Our America shows us that Washington’s geostrategic interests, its plans for looting our natural resources and biodiversity, the economic interests of transnational companies and its arms manufacturers, together with their desire for global domination, produce the most inhumane projects of intervention and destabilization in our countries.

The memory of our dead and the pain of millions of victims on behalf of Plan Colombia will not be forgotten. Colombia will regain its full sovereignty and its people will achieve real democracy and justice. The rose-coloured legend that is disseminated over the world today will crumble under the weight of his own infamy.

Secretariat of the Central High Command of the FARC-EP

Havana, February 1, 2016.

Last modified on Friday, 05 February 2016