Monday, March 26, 2007

Plan Colombia II

The links of Colombian officials to the paramilitaries is creeping closer and closer to President Uribe, with the leaked information that his army chief collaborated with them (see Plan Colombia and Beyond for details).

Most likely not coincidentally, from Colombia we are also hearing about a proposed “Plan Colombia II,” which is supposed to back off the current mostly military-oriented strategy and include much more funding for economic development. The price tag is hefty at $43 billion over six years, but the idea is to get European help, which was not forthcoming with the first Plan Colombia. Here is the link (in Spanish) to the proposal.

The original Plan Colombia also had those lofty economic development goals, but then ditched them, so Plan Colombia II should be viewed with some skepticism. Since its genesis coincides with the implication of so many officials to paramilitaries, it may also be intended as a distraction.

And, of course, none of this can put a serious dent in drug trafficking and the associated violence as long as people in the U.S. keep snorting cocaine in very large quantities.


Justin Delacour 6:54 PM  

(There's an interesting article at the Guaridan --"Key US ally 'helped Colombian traffickers'"-- about the Uribe government's ties to paramilitaries.

I hope that House Democrats will take a serious look at the thousands of paramilitary assassinations of Colombian trade unionists --combined with the Colombian government's failure to prosecute the assassins-- and then decide to cut military funding to Colombia.

Greg Weeks 4:40 PM  

Very hard to predict--evidence is overwhelming that Plan Colombia is failing, not to mention the paramilitary ties to the government, but as yet I don't think enough members of Congress are willing to stick their necks out.

Justin Delacour 1:32 AM  

You're probably right about that, Greg. I read a piece recently by the economic historian Robert Brenner --"Structure vs. Conjuncture: The 2006 Elections and the Rightward Shift"-- in which Brenner points out that most of this new batch of House Democrats are "Blue Dog Democrats" (i.e. not so pro-labor and not so critical of U.S. foreign policy), so the likelihood that they'll torpedo Plan Colombia seems fairly slim to me too. Since the new "blue dog" types do not have safe congressional seats, they undoubtedly don't want to open themselves up to the charge that they're "soft on drugs." Never mind that Plan Colombia isn't really about fighting drugs. Unfortunately, perception tends to trump reality in American politics (and particularly with regard to foreign policy).

I wouldn't be surprised, however, if the House scuttles the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement negotiated by Bush and Uribe. I hope they scuttle it, anyway.

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