Thursday, March 09, 2017

U.S. Aid to Colombia

U.S. diplomats were in Colombia to discuss two issues. The first was the rise in coca cultivation in Colombia and the second was the strong possibility that the U.S. would drastically cut its promised contribution to the Colombian peace process.

The reasons for the increase are complex and in part return us to the age-old supply/demand dispute. Largely because of years of abuse and distrust, farmers are in no mood to be sprayed and don't want the government come in and manually eradicate. The delicate nature of the peace process has meant the Santos administration hasn't pushed back. Budget cuts also play into this. But good old demand in the U.S. is also up, so there is always a strong incentive to stay in the coca industry.

Cutting U.S. aid for the peace process would be counterproductive. However, so is throwing millions of dollars at the Colombian military. In other words, cuts won't necessarily alarm me if what's sent is aimed primarily at confidence building, infrastructure, economic development, and the like. There is a deep divide between the urban and rural Colombia, between those that suffer the most from the potent mix of drug trafficking and the wars against it and those that don't. Rural Colombia needs to be better integrated into the rest of the country, and U.S. aid should focus on achieving that.


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