December 3, 2002
A Report to Congress on United States Policy Towards Colombia and Other
Submitted to the Congress by the Secretary of State, in consultation with
the Secretary of Defense, pursuant to House Conference Report 107-593
accompanying HR 4775 enacted as the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act
Prepared by the U.S. Department of State
United States Policy Towards Colombia and Other Related Issues
House Conference Report 107-593 accompanying HR 4775, subsequently enacted
as the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act For Further Recovery From and
Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States(P.L. 107-206), on pages
152-153, expressed the Managers concern that the Administration has
inadequately articulated clear objectives of U.S. policy in Colombia, what
actions would be required, and what it would cost to achieve those
The Managers therefore directed that the Secretary of State, in consultation
with the Secretary of Defense, submit a report describing in detail:
the Presidents policy towards Colombia, the objectives of that policy, and
the actions required by and the expected financial costs to the United
State, Colombia, and any other country or entity to achieve those
objectives; and the expected time schedule for achieving those objectives;
specific benchmarks for measuring progress toward achieving the objectives
of the Presidents policy;
the expected reduction, if any, in the amount of cocaine and heroin entering
the United States as a result of the Andean Counterdrug Initiative within
the expected time schedule; and
the mission and objectives of United States Armed Forces personnel and
civilian contractors employed by the United States in connection with such
assistance, and the threats to their safety in Colombia.
Administration representatives from the Department of State, the Department
of Defense, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. Agency for
International Development, and others, have testified before Congress and
met with many Senators, Representatives and staff on these questions.
President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, during his visit to the United States in
September 2002, also met with Senators and Representatives and provided his
views on developments in Colombia and plans for his government. The
Department of State has also provided a separate report to Congress,
pursuant to Section 601(b) of the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act, on
President Uribes determination to take a number of specific actions, many
of which are already underway.
Congress has been a key partner in our efforts to help Colombia and this
report offers an opportunity to address more fully Congress concerns.
The Presidents policy towards Colombia, the objectives of that policy, and
the actions required by and the expected financial costs to the United
States, Colombia, and any other country or entity to achieve those
objectives; and the expected time schedule for achieving those objectives
United States Policy Towards Colombia
U.S. policy towards Colombia supports the Colombian Governments efforts to
strengthen its democratic institutions, promote respect for human rights and
the rule of law, intensify counter-narcotics efforts, foster socio-economic
development, address immediate humanitarian needs, and end the threats to
democracy posed by narcotics trafficking and terrorism.
This policy reflects the continuing bipartisan support received from the
Congress for our programs in Colombia.
Before addressing U.S. policy objectives in more detail, it would be useful
to describe Colombias importance to the United States, the challenges it
faces and its response to those challenges.
Why Colombia Matters...
At the 2001 Quebec Summit of the Americas, President Bush and the 33 other
freely elected leaders of this hemisphere forged a common vision of
democratic governance and free trade. There exists a remarkable hemispheric
consensus in favor of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and economic
progress through market economies and free trade.
Despite this broad consensus, democratic institutions face a wide variety of
challenges throughout the hemisphere, and nowhere are these more serious
than in Colombia, where the government, civil society and people are under
attack by illegal armed groups of narcotics traffickers and terrorists, who
are often one and the same, and whose methods include murder, kidnapping,
extortion, and bombing.
In addition to our support for a democratic government under assault, and
one with which we have strong and longstanding ties, Colombia is important
to the United States for a number of other reasons:
Colombia is responsible for some 75% of the worlds cocaine production and
90% of the cocaine entering the United States is produced in Colombia or
passes through Colombia. It is also a significant source of heroin. There
were 50,000 drug-related deaths in the United States in 2000; the United
States suffered $160 billion in economic losses in the same year due to
illicit drug use.
Terrorism in Colombia both supports and draws resources from the narcotics
industry, kidnapping and extortion, threatening U.S. citizens and economic
interests. Colombias terrorist groups have kidnapped 51 American citizens
since 1992, and killed 10.
Terrorist attacks resulted in over 3,000 Colombians killed in 2001. Another
2,856 were kidnapped, with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia), the ELN (National Liberation Army) and the AUC (United
Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), responsible for almost 2,000 of these.
Among the kidnap victims were 289 children, the youngest of whom was only
three years old.
Beyond drug trafficking, terrorism, illegal arms smuggling, and other
criminal activities, there are broad and important U.S. national interests
in Colombia that include stability in the Andean region, trade, immigration,
human rights, humanitarian assistance, and protection of the environment.
Colombia has four times the land area of California and a population of over
40 million people. Its gross domestic product is more than $90 billion a
Two-way trade between the United States and Colombia was Over $11 billion in
2001, with direct U.S. investment of more than $4 billion.
Colombia has important reserves of petroleum, natural gas and coal.
An estimated 50,000 U.S. citizens live in Colombia.
Colombias unique eco-system and environment are increasingly threatened by
cultivation of illicit drugs, whether it is the slash and burn cutting of
tropical forest reserves or the toxic chemicals poured by narcotics
processing into streams and rivers.
the Challenges it Faces...
Colombias problems are complex and do not lend themselves to any easy or
rapid solution. The countrys present-day troubles reflect numerous,
deeply-rooted problems including limited or non-existent government presence
and law enforcement capability in large areas of the interior, the dramatic
expansion of illicit drug cultivation contributing to endemic violence, and
deep social and economic inequities.
Yet, it is the growing threat posed by the countrys three designated
terrorist organizations, the AUC, ELN, and FARC, and fueled by narcotics
trafficking, extortion and kidnapping, that today most directly affects
Colombias ability to resolve its peoples economic and social needs.
The ongoing terrorist offensive against democratic institutions and civil
society has had tragic costs within Colombia. Each year the AUC, ELN and
FARC kill more than 3,000 persons. Their victims have included judges and
prosecutors, journalists, labor union leaders and human rights workers,
soldiers, police, and ordinary citizens. Even clerics and Red Cross workers
not been exempt from the violence. Before his election, the FARC attempted
to assassinate then-candidate Alvaro Uribe on several occasions and it
mounted an attack at his inauguration. The FARC still holds kidnapped
then-Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, whose present whereabouts are
&ldots;and Colombias Response
Nevertheless, Colombia is far from being a failed state. Its vigorous
democracy is addressing the countrys many problems. The Colombian people,
through their elected leaders, are working to reform the nations political
and legal systems, promote socio-economic development, protect human rights,
provide help to displaced persons, enlarge and professionalize the security
forces and combat narcoterrorism.
In 1999, then-President Andres Pastrana took the initiative in responding to
the crisis undermining Colombias democratic system, prosperity and security
by developing a long-term program which he called Plan Colombia. It was a
comprehensive strategy to deal with the countrys longstanding, mutually
reinforcing problems and called for: substantial social investment;
judicial, political and economic reforms; renewed efforts to combat
narcotics trafficking; and included some important first steps towards
modernizing Colombias Armed Forces.
The United States strongly supported Plan Colombias objectives of combating
the narcotics industry, promoting peace, reviving the economy, improving
respect for human rights and strengthening the democratic and social
institutions of the country with a $1.3 billion assistance package enacted
in July 2000.
The impressive first round electoral victory, on May 26, 2002, by Alvaro
Uribe confirmed the Colombian publics apparent recognition that greater
domestic sacrifices would be needed to end the violence and its readiness to
support a more vigorous and unified campaign against terrorism and narcotics
After assuming office on August 7, 2002, President Uribe appointed a cabinet
distinguished by its expertise and emphasis on results, and took a number of
Soon after his inauguration, in accordance with Colombian law, President
Uribe decreed a State of Internal Disturbance under which the government
then imposed a one-time tax on the wealthiest segment of Colombians. This
tax is expected to yield the equivalent of 1.2 percent of gross domestic
product (GD?), between $800 million and $1 billion, to be dedicated
exclusively to security.
President Uribes 2003 budget also calls for increased government defense
expenditures which would increase military and police spending from 3.5%
this year to a goal of 5.8% of GD? in 2003. The United States and Colombia
recognize more will need to be done, but these are decisive first steps.
Additionally, the Uribe Administration has introduced an extensive, longer
term tax and pension reform package, which has been submitted to the
Colombian Congress, and is moving to cut bureaucratic overhead by seeking
congressional and public approval in a referendum to reduce government
Still, Colombia will continue to need substantial U.S. help and support if
it is to succeed in defending its democracy and the rule of law from
narcotraffickers and terrorists, improve respect for human rights and
promote economic and social development. On September 19, 2002, President
Uribe wrote President Bush and, consistent with section 601(b) (1) of the
2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act, stated that his government will:
establish comprehensive policies to eliminate the cultivation and
manufacturing of and trafficking in illicit drugs (especially in terms of
providing economic opportunities offering financially viable and sustainable
alternatives to illicit cultivation) and to strengthen the presence of the
Colombian State and to ensure the primacy of the rule of law and respect for
human rights throughout Colombian territory, especially in areas under the
influence of guerrilla and illegal self-defense groups;
adopt major reforms with respect to the budget and personnel of the
Colombian military forces; and
furnish significant additional financial and other resources to implement
those policies and reforms, (especially in order to meet its earlier
commitments with regard to previously earmarked Plan Colombia assistance)
President Uribe also stressed the priority his government assigns to
complementing its security efforts with sustainable rural development
programs, based on a comprehensive approach to regional social and economic
development and to security. In writing to President Bush, he added that
these programs would be focused on regions of strategic importance to the
country, with special consideration given to vulnerable segments of the
population, such as indigenous peoples, victims of violence and displaced
The Government of Colombia, under President Uribes instructions, is
completing a broad national security strategy which includes those elements
described above as well as others needed to undertake a comprehensive
campaign to counter the actions of armed groups engaged in illegal
activities such as terrorism and drug production and trafficking that have
plagued Colombia for years. The strategy includes commitments to respect
human rights, dedicate more resources to the Colombian Armed Forces, and
reform the conscription laws to make military service universal and fairer.
These initiatives will build on the restructuring of the Armed Forces begun
during the administration of President Pastrana (1998-2002).
President Uribe stressed that Colombia is undertaking these commitments to
ensure the effectiveness of joint efforts with the United States Government
to achieve our common goals in combating narcotics trafficking and
During his visit to Washington in late September 2002, President Uribe met
with President Bush and members of the Cabinet as well as Senators and
Representatives and the majority and minority leadership. The Administration
conveyed to President Uribe its strong support for the policies he has
United States Policy Objectives
The United States shares Colombias vision of a prosperous democracy, free
from the scourges of narcotics and terrorism, which respects human rights
and the rule of law.
To help Colombias democracy achieve these aims, U.S. objectives include
programs that will:
Continue assistance to combat illicit drugs and terrorism, defend human
rights, promote economic, social and alternative development initiatives,
reform and strengthen the administration of justice, and assist the
Enhance counterterrorism capability by providing advice, assistance,
training and equipment, and intelligence support to the Colombian Armed
Forces and the Colombian National Police through ongoing programs as well as
implementing the new authorities and the pipeline protection program; and
Promote economic growth and development through support for market-based
policies and implementation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
and the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) as well as the Andean Trade
Program and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA).
Substantially reduce the production and trafficking of cocaine and heroin
from Colombia by strengthening counter-narcotics programs that: assist with
eradication of illegal coca and opium poppy; advise, train, and assist
counterdrug organizations and units; dismantle drug trafficking
organizations; disrupt the transportation of illegal drugs, precursor and
essential chemicals, trafficker supplies, and cash; address major
cultivation regions; and respond rapidly to shifts in cultivation regions;
Increase institutional development, professionalization, and enlargement of
Colombian security forces to permit the exercise of governmental authority
throughout the national territory while ensuring respect for human rights;
The United States is committed to helping Colombia in its fight against
narcotics trafficking and terrorism through these assistance programs.
United States policy responds to Colombias social, economic, governmental,
narcotics and terrorism challenges in a balanced and comprehensive manner.
Our support reinforces, but does not substitute for, the broader efforts of
Colombian government and society, and is provided in accordance with
legislation that includes:
Title III, Chapter 2 of the Emergency Supplemental Act, 2000, enacted in the
Military Construction Appropriations Act, 2001, (P.L. 106-246);
Title II of the Kenneth M. Ludden Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and
Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2002, (P.L. 107-115); and
The 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act, (P.L. 107-206).
The 2003 Department of Defense Appropriations Act (P.L. 107-248)
To support U.S. policy, goals and objectives, the United States has
undertaken a wide variety of programs assisting Colombia. These provide
training, equipment, infrastructure development, funding, and expertise to
the Government of Colombia and Colombian civil society in areas that include
alternative development, interdiction, eradication, law enforcement,
institutional strengthening, judicial reform, human rights, humanitarian
assistance for displaced persons, local governance, anti-corruption,
conflict management and peace promotion, the rehabilitation of child
soldiers, and preservation of the environment.
In implementing these programs, the Administration and Congress increasingly
came to understand that the terrorist and narcotics problems in Colombia are
intertwined and must be dealt with as a whole. Working with Congress, the
Administration sought and Congress enacted new authorities in the 2002
Supplemental Appropriations Act that would help to more readily address the
combined threat and facilitate the use of FY 2002 funds available for
assistance to the Government of Colombia for supporting Colombias unified
campaign against narcotics trafficking and U.S.-designated terrorist
organizations. These provisions also apply to the unexpired balances and
assistance from prior years Foreign Operations Appropriations Acts for
Colombia and were renewed in the FY 2003 Department of Defense
In practical terms, the training, equipment, intelligence support and other
U.S. programs described in this report will now be available to support
Colombias unified campaign against narcotics trafficking and designated
terrorist organizations. The new authorities will provide some additional
flexibility to help the Colombian government address narcotics trafficking
and terrorism more efficiently and more effectively.
In doing so, the United States will continue its human rights vetting of all
Colombian military units receiving U.S. assistance and will not exceed
present statutory limits of 400 U.S. military personnel and 400 U.S.
civilian contractors providing support to Plan Colombia.
U.S. Policy Achievements
In describing U.S. policy objectives it is also important to review the
accomplishments U.S. programs have had in support for Plan Colombia. U.S.
programs have provided Colombia with assistance to combat narcotrafficking,
strengthen democratic institutions, protect human rights, help internally
displaced persons, and foster socio-economic development. Although much
remains to be accomplished, U.S. assistance to Plan Colombia has resulted
in substantial progress to date, including:
Deployment of the Colombian Armys First Counternarcotics Brigade (made
mobile and effective by the simultaneous provision of USG-funded
helicopters). This U.S.-trained brigade, arguably the best unit in the
Colombian Army, is highly motivated and professional, and has also not been
subject to any credible human rights abuse allegations. The brigade has
moved aggressively against drug labs and other illegal facilities working in
support of the Anti-Narcotics Directorate (DIRAN) of the Colombian National
Police, as well as moving independently against narcotics and associated
Delivery has been completed of the 65 helicopters made available to the
Colombian Army (54) and Colombian National Police (11) to support Plan
Colombia under the 2000 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L.
The DIRAN continues its excellent record against trafficking organizations
and drug processing labs, destroying some 84 HCL labs and over 1,000 base
labs, as well as seizing nearly 23,000 kilos of cocaine, in CY 2001 alone.
So far in 2002 the DIRAN has destroyed 51 HCL labs.
Eight AT-802 spray aircraft are being acquired with funds from the 2000
Emergency Supplemental Act (P.L. 106-246) , with 3 already in Colombia, 2
planned to arrive by the end of 2002, and 2 more by March 31, 2003. These
new spray aircraft and the 9 OV-10s and 4 T-65s already available, are
contributing to surpassing the record 94,000 hectares of coca crop sprayed
in 2001. Aerial spraying figures for 2002 are well ahead of this and have
already reached nearly 120,000 hectares. Voluntary eradication has accounted
for another 9,000 hectares of coca.
Recent reports from Putumayo Department indicates that the regions coca
dependent economy has suffered a significant downturn. Business owners (a
good general barometer) in four towns in the heart of the coca cultivation
district complained that commerce was dying, and pointed to a major decrease
in bus traffic, low occupancy rates in hotels, supermarkets moving less
goods, fewer diners in restaurants, reductions in money transfers, and
increases in loan defaults. There is also a reported upswing in the number
of coca worker families leaving the area. While anecdotal, this information
indicates that the spray program does appear to be disrupting the coca
Nearly 2,300 hectares of opium poppy have been sprayed so far this year,
already more than in 2001, and the goal of 5,000 hectares should be reached.
USAID alternative development assistance has been refocused to make it more
effective; hectares of licit crops and livestock supported by this program
increased from about 4,500 in mid-2002 to nearly 12,000 by the end of
September. This quickened pace of implementation is expected to continue.
We have opened 20 Casas de Justicia (Justice Centers) to provide
cost-effective legal services to Colombians who have not previously enjoyed
access to the countrys judicial system.
>From May 2001 through October 2002, a USAID-funded program operated by
Colombias Ministry of the Interior has provided protection to 3,043 human
rights activists, journalists, and union leaders, ranging from soft such
as relocation assistance to hard with, for example, armored vehicles.
Working with non-governmental organizations and international agencies, U.S.
assistance has been provided to over 500,000 Colombians displaced by
violence since mid-2001.
Initial steps have been taken in a program to rehabilitate former child
soldiers. A USAID-funded center has been established to receive those
children captured by the army or who have deserted from the illegal armed
groups. Some 300 children have entered the reception center where they have
received treatment, education and shelter.
An Early Warning System (EWS), to help Colombia avert massacres and other
human rights abuses, is being expanded and has had some successes; during
the period June 2001 through September 2002, a total of 150 warnings were
issued through the EWS that identified threats to communities across
Colombia, especially in rural areas, and which resulted in 115 responses by
the military, police and/or relief agencies.
Our justice sector reform programs have provided assistance to the
Government of Colombia to: reform its judicial system and strengthen local
government capacity; implement a comprehensive program to investigate and
prosecute kidnapping and extortion offenses; develop and implement legal
reforms, improve the Prosecutor Generals ability to investigate and
prosecute criminal cases through the development of a well-trained cadre of
professional prosecutors; enhance maritime enforcement capabilities with
respect to international narcotics smuggling; and improve witness and
judicial protection programs.
There has been unprecedented cooperation in extraditing Colombians to the
United States on serious criminal charges; 29 Colombian nationals have been
extradited to the United States so far this year; Since November 1999 there
have been 64 Colombian nationals extradited here for trial.
We are also helping the Prosecutor Generals Office to establish dedicated
human rights units throughout the country to facilitate the investigation
and prosecution of human rights abuses. Eight of these units are now
operating. The Prosecutors Office is eager to expand the program to
additional regions in 2003.
The creation of over 140,000 new jobs between 1992-1999 is attributable to
the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and Colombia expects to continue to
be a beneficiary with its recent promulgation by the President for inclusion
in the Andean Trade Program and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA).
Human rights concerns continue to be a central element in U.S. policy. Our
human rights message is making a difference. Then-President Pastrana and now
President Uribe have worked to end collusion between the Colombian military
and the paramilitary AUC.
The Colombian military captured 590 paramilitaries and killed 92 in combat
during 2001. For the period January through September 2002, these figures
have increased with 828 paramilitaries captured and 154 killed.
Eight military personnel, including two colonels and a lieutenant colonel,
were charged in civilian courts with collaborating with paramilitaries or
with committing gross human rights violations in 2001.
The Uribe Administration has successfully sought the extradition from Spain
of a former Colombian cabinet minister charged with aiding and abetting
paramilitary groups in Colombia.
Then-President Pastrana made a determined effort to negotiate peace with the
FARC, a designated terrorist organization, which repeatedly demonstrated it
could not or would not negotiate in good faith. President Uribe has made
clear his intention to pursue a peace process on the GOCs terms, which
include commitments by the AUC, ELN, or FARC.
The United States fully supports President Uribes stated conditions for
such a peace process. To the extent that our assistance helps Colombia
reinvigorate its economy, enhances its governing ability, encourages respect
for human rights and weakens narcotics trafficking and designated terrorist
organizations, it will also promote the broader search for a negotiated
settlement to the conflict.
Expected Financial Costs
The newly-elected Colombian Government has a strong popular mandate to deal
decisively with the countrys national crisis. Nevertheless, the complexity
of Colombias problems will require substantial financial support from the
United States and the international community.
The United States supports the Colombian Governments plans to implement its
policy of providing democratic security by devoting increased government
resources to the security forces, developing a strategy aimed at
establishing the rule of law throughout its national territory, protecting
human rights, assisting its internally displaced persons, and waging an
aggressive and comprehensive campaign against illicit drugs.
To do so, since 2000, the United States has responded to that need and
provided Colombia with over $1.7 billion in economic, humanitarian and
security assistance to support Plan Colombia. The progress described
earlier in this report has been encouraging, but it needs to be sustained.
The FY 2003 Foreign Operations Appropriations request for the Department of
State seeks $439 million in International Narcotics Control and Law
Enforcement (INCLE) funds to sustain and reinforce our programs and $98
million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) funds to train and equip
Colombian military and police units to protect the important Cano Limon
pipeline, a major source of Colombian government export revenues. The $439
million INCLE request includes $275 million for the Colombian military and
police and $164 million for democracy programs, alternative development,
assistance to vulnerable groups, human rights protection and promotion of
the rule of law.
Of already appropriated funds for FY 2003, the Department of Defense
estimates that it may spend $102 million to support programs in Colombia.
The Department of State and the Department of Defense are preparing their
budget submissions for FY 2004, and expect to request substantial financial
resources to support the Uribe Administrations courageous anti-narcotics
and anti-terror agenda.
The Government of Colombia developed Plan Colombia and, under the Pastrana
Administration, committed to spending $4.5 billion over five years on
programs for counterdrug efforts, institution building, and social and
economic development. The Government of Colombias contribution to Plan
Colombia is being used for counter-drug efforts and social and economic
development projects. The GOC is estimated to have spent $426.5 million to
date on social and institutional development and has spent or has plans to
spend an estimated $2.6 billion for infrastructure projects related to Plan
With an estimated Colombian contribution of approximately $3 billion spent
or in the pipeline through 2002, the GOC appears to be largely on track to
fulfill its previously undertaken financial obligations under the plan.
In addition, President Uribe has committed to increase resources for
security forces as well as to wage a comprehensive counter-terrorism and
counter-narcotics campaign, which will include funding for programs to
defend human rights, promote economic, social and alternative development
initiatives, reform the administration of justice, and assist the internally
displaced. He has already taken serious steps to meet these commitments.
Minister of Defense Ramirez announced in mid-October that she has set a goal
for defense spending to reach 5.8% of GDP in 2003, up from 3.5% in 2002.
While the GOC awaits the full collection of the one-time tax, resources are
being diverted from other areas to fund increased security needs.
The wealth tax will be paid in four tranches. Since August, the GOC has
raised approximately $240 million through this tax, all of which will
augment the security budget. The GOC reports that it is receiving voluntary
contributions from individuals not subject to the tax (those with net assets
The GOC also dedicated an additional $213 million by reducing other programs
to finance defense spending:
$183 million will go to MOD to build and improve security infrastructure and
purchase new equipment;
$22 million to acquire new equipment and make security improvements for the
$6 million for Interior/Justice Ministry to support activities related to
the security strategy;
$1.8 million for the Finance Ministry to support activities related to the
The GOC proposes to cut expenditures by 1.3% of GD? (approximately $1.15
billion) through a restructuring and downsizing of the State. The savings,
combined with a tax reform package, should give the GOC the additional
funding (an estimated $600 million) required to maintain an enhanced
security posture after 2005, when the money from the onetime wealth tax
will have been spent.
The tax reforms include raising value added taxes (VAT) on many items (20%
for luxury goods and cellular phones) as well as increasing the universe of
goods covered by the VAT.
The tax reform penalizes, for the first time, tax evasion, setting prison
terms of 4-8 years.
A limit on exemptions will be imposed.
The GOC has frozen salaries, cut travel budgets and limited phone use to
fund enhanced security measures.
The GOC is working with the IDB, World Bank, IMF, and Andean Development
Corporation (CAF) to obtain additional resources (approximately $1.5 billion
a year through 2006) aimed at strengthening the governments presence
throughout the country, an integral part of the Presidents proposed
strategy to restore government authority throughout the country.
The Uribe Administrations National Security Strategy (NSS), expected to be
released shortly, calls for guaranteeing the security of all Colombians
committed to the rule of law. The NSS incorporates the essential elements of
Plan Colombia: it seeks to force the cultivators of illicit crops out of
business while at the same time developing alternative economic
opportunities and employment. The GOC will create incentives for the hiring
by the private sector of those who leave the cultivation of illicit crops
and abandon the ranks of the illegal armed forces.
The GOC intends to use the additional taxes collected as well as new IFI
resources to fund both Plan Colombia efforts and related follow-on programs
to bring basic services to communities throughout Colombia. It has taken
specific steps to strengthen Plan Colombias implementation.
The Uribe Administration has created a cabinet-level Plan Colombia
Coordinator who has clarified the roles of other implementing entities and
the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment now have important alternative
It has also reorganized the relief and social rehabilitation organization,
the Red de Solidaridad (Solidarity Network), to concentrate on the
emergency phase of the Internally Displaced Program (IDP), e.g., the first
90 days, and has developed a return/re-establishment initiative for an
initial thirty thousand ID? families. These families would be encouraged to
return to the areas from which they fled. The GOC will provide security,
housing and productive projects in these declared safe areas. The first
safe area has been declared in northern Antioquia.
The GOC has tried to make asset forfeiture an easier, more streamlined
process. It has passed a law allowing only four months for individuals to
contest the confiscation of narcotics financed property. As a result,
properties in question for years, including lands owned by Pablo Escobar and
his family, are now being seized.
Currently, there are 350,000 hectares of narcotics-tainted land being
contested in the courts. Although it is not yet known what percentage of
this land could ultimately be turned over to displaced persons and ex-coca
and poppy growers, this would help solve the land problem and punish drug
The primary responsibility for human rights programs is in the Vice
Presidents office, which will oversee additional resources aimed at
protecting those currently in increased danger, such as city mayors and
Vice President Santos is also leading a campaign to increase transparency in
the government and plans to expand this culture against corruption to the
private sector. One of his initiatives is a fiscal responsibility law
currently before the Congress that stiffens penalties for malfeasance and
also makes it easier to dismiss corrupt employees.
The United States is not alone in providing needed assistance to Colombia.
There is international consensus that Colombias democracy deserves help.
Individual European nations, the European Union, Canada, Japan and the
United Nations have pledged up to $600 million to Colombian development
programs. Unfortunately, disbursements of these resources has been slower
than hoped, due to bureaucratic, programmatic, and security issues. The
United States will work with these like-minded nations and international
entities to ensure that their commitments are fulfilled.
International Financial Institutions (IFIs) including the IMF, World Bank,
Andean Development Corporation (CAF), and Inter-American Development Bank
(IDB) are all active in Colombia and the Uribe government is seeking to
extend or expand current programs. The World Bank, CAF, and IDB already
provide hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to support social,
humanitarian and infrastructure development, as well as economic
revitalization. The IMF has signed a letter of intent renewing Colombias
Extended Fund Facility.
As Colombias deep-seated internal conflict dates back almost 40 years, it
would be misleading to attempt to provide an expected time schedule for full
achievement of United States objectives in the country.
In other regions of the world such as Angola, Central America, South Africa
and Eastern Europe, the United States has shown that with sustained
engagement, accompanied by political will and courage, we have been able to
respond successfully to entrenched conflicts.
Full realization of U.S. policy goals will require a concerted Colombian
strategy and effort -- backed by sustained U.S. assistance over a period of
years -- to establish control over its national territory, eliminate
narcotics cultivation and distribution, end terrorism, and promote human
rights and the rule of law.
Specific benchmarks for measuring progress toward achieving the objectives
of the Presidents policy
As described earlier, U.S. policy is to help Colombia become a prosperous
democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law, and is free from
narcotics trafficking and terrorism. In broad terms, the success of our
programs will be measured by improvements in all areas of Colombian life and
reduction in illegal drug cultivation and terrorism.
Benchmarks for measuring progress on the achievement of these policy goals
-- Development and implementation by the Government of Colombia (GOC) of a
comprehensive National Security Strategy, outlining its plans to
progressively establish democratic state authority throughout the country.
-- Preparation by the United States, upon publication of the Colombian
Governments National Security Strategy of an interagency political/military
plan for U.S. support to the GOC National Security Strategy that will
contain additional details and more specific benchmarks.
-- Substantially reduced coca and opium poppy cultivation and production,
and corresponding reductions in the financial benefits such cultivation
provides the terrorist groups.
-- Sustainment of current enhanced levels of aerial eradication of coca and
-- Expansion of alternative development programs in areas northwest of
Putumayo Department to enhance economic development and increase licit
employment and income opportunities.
-- Significant increases in the financial and manpower resources the GOC
devotes to its security forces. Possible goals would include a schedule for
substantially increasing the size of the Colombia National Police and the
Armed Forces, and raising security spending from its current 3.5% of GDP to
at least 5% of GDP.
-- Continued modernization and expansion of Colombian Armed Forces and
National Police, improving training, recruitment, doctrine, equipment, and
inter-service cooperation (e.g. increasing the number of professional
soldiers; removal of legislative restrictions on nature of service of some
draftees; longer enlistment periods) . Creation of more mobile and effective
Colombian Army units.
-- Continued progress by the Colombian Armed Forces to protect human rights,
end military-paramilitary collusion, and reduce overall number of violent
civilian deaths. Key measures include: increased military/police actions
against the AUC and; suspension of those military personnel credibly alleged
to have committed gross human rights violations or to have collaborated with
-- Strengthened civilian criminal justice system jurisdiction over military
personnel accused of human rights violations; improvements in average time
from initial investigation through final prosecution, especially those with
allegations of egregious human rights violations, military-paramilitary
collusion or high-level drug trafficking.
-- Significant reduction of illegal arms shipments to and from Colombia.
-- Improved efficiency, agility, and reach for Colombias criminal justice
system. Important steps would include: reforming criminal code and
procedure; expanding capabilities and numbers of prosecutors; developing
prosecutor/police task forces to address complex crimes; protecting judicial
personnel and witnesses; increasing number of municipalities served by the
justice system; providing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for
matters that need not be heard in criminal justice system; ensuring greater
security in prisons; reducing the number of prison escapes; enactment and
implementation of accusatorial code and procedural reforms.
-- Development of general principles that would apply to possible peace
processes with the ELN, FARC and AUC, and an aggressive, effective
demobilization program targeting rank and file members of all three groups.
-- Concerted GOC-led diplomatic effort to persuade European and other
countries to provide greater financial support for ongoing programs.
The expected reduction, if any, in the amount of cocaine and heroin entering
the United States as a result of the Andean Counterdrug Initiative within
the expected time schedule
U.S. counter-drug objectives in Colombia, through a range of programs, seek
to significantly reduce illegal drug production and to make it economically
unprofitable and are supported by both eradication and interdiction efforts.
Effectively eradicating coca leaf and opium poppy as well as interdicting
their movement and that of precursor supplies, cash or final product can be
expected to reduce the amount of cocaine and heroin entering the United
States. Maintaining effective demand reduction programs will also be key.
In pursuit of these objectives, the Colombian National Police have sprayed
about 120,000 hectares of coca so far this year, and may reach up to 150,000
by the end of 2002. In the first part of 2002 the herbicide used was diluted
so that it was less than fully effective, and the coca treated may not have
been wholly eradicated. Beginning in August 2002, the rate of spraying
increased and herbicide concentration was restored to earlier strength. If
coca eradication continues at the August 2002 rate for the next 12 to 24
months, with annualized spraying of up to 200,000 hectaries, it can be
expected to have a substantial impact on the economic viability of coca
The Colombian National Police have also sprayed nearly 2,300 hectares of
opium poppy so far in 2002, with expectations of spraying up to 5,000
hectares by the end of the year, and 10,000 hectares in 2003.
The aerial spray program now also has the strongest possible support at the
most senior levels of the GOC. We believe that the progress that will now
result from the combination of greatly increased aerial spray capability on
our part, the planned addition of new, high capacity aircraft and the new
political determination of the GOC, will help us to achieve our objectives
of substantial reductions.
Additional pressure can be brought against the illegal drug industry by more
effectively controlling transportation corridors across the Andes that are
used to import chemicals, supplies and cash into the growing areas, or to
move illegal drug products out. If the drug producing areas are isolated
from markets and necessary supplies, the costs and risks of moving narcotics
products will increase. Isolation of the growing areas would contribute to
significantly disrupting the market.
Interdiction of cocaine and heroin at sea and ashore is another important
element for drug market disruption. With U.S. assistance, technology,
intelligence support, and law enforcement training, the Government of
Colombia should be able to maintain increasing pressure on drug warehousing
sites and go-fast boat movements, also resulting in increased seizures of
cocaine and heroin.
If present programs are sustained, then Plan Colombias original goals of
reducing coca cultivation in Colombia by 50% by the end of 2005 should be
achieved. In fact, we believe it will be possible to spray even more coca
and poppy in 2003, and have established spray targets of 200,000 hectares of
coca and 10,000 hectares of opium poppy. President Uribe has called for
total eradication by the end of his term of office in 2006.
If these eradication and interdiction objectives are achieved we would
expect to see a major reduction in the amount of cocaine available for the
United States, with corresponding impacts on cocaine price and purity in the
U.S. market. Reductions in Colombian heroin availability might not produce
comparable effects because of the availability of ample heroin supplies from
other parts of the world.
The mission and objectives of U.S. Armed Forces personnel and civilian
contractors employed by the United States in connection with such
assistance, and the threats to their safety in Colombia
U.S. military personnel and U.S. individual civilian contractors in Colombia
are undertaking activities to implement specific aspects of the programs
described earlier in support of Plan Colombia. The dangers they face are
well understood by the U.S. Government and the individuals themselves and
extensive security measures are taken to provide for safety.
As described in the bi-monthly reports provided to the Congress in
accordance with the provisions of section 3204(f) of Title III, Chapter 2,
of the Emergency Supplemental Act, 2000, the U.S. Government is carrying out
a wide variety of programs in Colombia in support of U.S. policy objectives.
U.S. military personnel provide training as well as equipment,
infrastructure development, and planning, logistical and intelligence
support, while U.S. civilian contractors are employed by the Departments of
Defense, State, Treasury, Justice, and Commerce, are engaged in programs
that include alternative development, narcotics interdiction and
eradication, law enforcement, institutional strengthening, judicial reform,
human rights, humanitarian assistance for displaced persons, local
governance, anti-corruption, conflict management and peace promotion, the
rehabilitation of child soldiers, and preservation of the environment.
Present ceilings of 400 permanent and temporary U.S. military personnel and
400 U.S. citizen civilian contractors in Colombia in support of Plan
Colombia remain in effect for these purposes. Administration representatives
have also testified to the Congress on several recent occasions that there
are no plans for engagement of U.S. military personnel or U.S. civilian
contractors in a combat role in Colombia.
U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilian contractors do not participate in
combat missions in Colombia. Current Department of Defense policy guidance
prohibits U.S. military personnel in Colombia from accompanying Colombian
military forces during such operations.
Programs with the Colombian armed forces and police are undertaken at bases
where Colombian units provide security. There have, however, been situations
in which U.S. citizen civilian contractors were subject to hostile fire,
although it bears repeating that they do not have any combat role. As a
matter of firm policy, the Administration does not intend to use U.S.
citizen civilian contractors in any combat role.
However, in conducting counternarcotics aerial spraying, the spray aircraft,
piloted by U.S. citizen or third country national contractors, are
accompanied by escort helicopters that carry combined U.S. citizen civilian
contractor or third country national contractors and Colombian National
Police (CNP) crews. On a typical mission, U.S. citizen civilian contractors
accompany the spray operations in these helicopters as pilots or medics, but
not as gunners. The contractors provide support for CNP antinarcotics and
law enforcement operations. U.S. citizen civilian contractors and third
country national contractors have occasionally been subject to hostile fire
in the course of providing their services, for example, in undertaking
search and rescue (SAR) and medical evacuation missions.
U.S. citizen civilian contractors also provide training and logistical
support for the 32 USG-provided UH-1N helicopters that provide air mobility
for the three counterdrug battalions of the Colombian Army. However, these
aircraft are piloted by either Colombian military personnel or Colombian and
third country national contractors.
Since 1998 three U.S. citizen civilian contractors have died in Colombia,
two on July 27, 1998 in an aviation accident when their T-65 aircraft
crashed during a training flight, and a third in an August 2002 runway
accident. Another U.S. citizen civilian contractor died of natural causes on
August 15, 2000, as a result of a heart attack. In 1999 a U.S. military
aircraft crashed in Colombia resulting in five U.S. military fatalities.
We have been fortunate to date to have suffered no killed, wounded or
captured U.S. military personnel or U.S. civilian contractors, or other USG
personnel, as a direct consequence of the violence and conflict in Colombia.
However, casualties cannot be precluded, either as a direct attack by
narcotics trafficking or terrorist organizations or as the result of
violence not specifically aimed at U.S. personnel.
Colombia is a high-risk assignment and the U.S. military personnel, U.S.
civilian contractors and the permanent and temporary United States
Government personnel assigned to Colombia are well aware of this. Our
personnel and official facilities maintain a high state of alert, take every
possible precaution, and are very proactive in matters regarding safety.
They deserve our recognition and we appreciate the support they receive from
the Congress and the American public for their dedication and willingness to
Senior Associate, Demilitarization Program
Center for International Policy
1755 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 312
Washington DC 20036
+202-232-3317 fax 232-3440