Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Plan Colombia is Problematic

Michael Shifter writes of Brent Scowcroft in glowing terms for his role in promoting Plan Colombia. One thing I've noticed over the years is that advocates know Plan Colombia had some massively negative consequences, and so feel obligated to at least make some mention, but without going into detail and then head straight back to compliments. Examples from his short essay:

  • "however seriously flawed"
  • "Criticism centered around human rights concerns"
  • "failed to achieve its highest priority objective"
  • "for all of its flaws in conception and implementation"
That's a lot of qualifiers. More specifically, let's look at the most recent data from the International Displacement Monitoring Centre:

This is Plan Colombia in action--it created a disaster along Syrian lines for millions of Colombians, but they just don't get much attention. President Alvaro Uribe, who was largely responsible for implementing it after he took office in 2002, is a thug who oversaw major human rights violations, and is currently under house arrest for bribing members of paramilitaries so that he wouldn't be implicated for his involvement with them.

I understand fully that Plan Colombia served to ramp up the government's side in the civil war, and as a result it was able to weaken the FARC sufficiently to force it to negotiate, which stabilized the country. I am not trying to pretend that didn't happen. But it definitely needs to be seen as only side of a violent coin.


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