Plan Colombia: Should policy aim at strengthening the Colombian Armed Forces?
The United States government decided in 1999 to implement a new policy to fight drug trafficking in Colombia, the violence that accompanies it, as well as to curb drug use in the United States. The policy, known as "Plan Colombia" was originally put into place by the Clinton administration, but is being built upon by current President George W. Bush. The majority of U.S. aid going to Colombia is to be used in assisting the Colombian military in their fight to eradicate the coca fields that exist in southern Colombia. This action by the United States has elicited many doubts from people of all walks of life, different countries, ages, professions, etc. These people don't believe that assisting the Colombian military is the way to solve the drug problem and fear it is only going to cause more disaster and destruction for the Colombian people. In deciding whether or not Plan Colombia is a defensible and justifiable policy, one must study four major aspects of Colombia and the U.S. plan. The first is the history of the armed forces, the guerrillas, and the paramilitaries of Colombia, and the human rights violations that have taken place as a result of their actions. This study is pertinent to the topic specifically because they have all contributed greatly in different ways to the existence and the continuation of the drug trade. This leads to the second important aspect which is the history of the drug trade, how it came to exist in Colombia, and what has accelerated it to the point of becoming 15-20% of Colombia's annual income. Third, is a study of US policy toward Colombia and the steps U.S. policymakers have taken to try and solve the problem of drug trafficking. Finally, the reactions of the Colombian people, their neighboring countries, and the European Union to Plan Colombia must be taken into account. In thoroughly studying these four topics, it is anticipated that the United States aid being sent to Colombia to improve the Armed Forces will prove to be counterproductive and detrimental to the Colombian people and supportive in continuing the successful business of drug trafficking.