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Plan Colombia

Published March 28, 2000

The U.S. State Department released this fact sheet on the Plan Colombia on March 28, 2000.

Plan Colombia

The Government of Colombia developed "Plan Colombia" as an integrated strategy to meet the most pressing challenges confronting Colombia today -- promoting the peace process, combating the narcotics industry, reviving the Colombian economy, and strengthening the democratic pillars of Colombian society. Plan Colombia is a $7.5 billion program. President Pastrana has pledged $4 billion of Colombian resources and has called on the international community to provide the remaining $3.5 billion to assist this effort.

U.S. Support

In response to Plan Colombia, and in consultation with the Colombian Government, President Clinton has proposed a $1.6 billion package of assistance to Colombia.

Adding to previously approved U.S. assistance to Colombia of over $330 million, the new initiative requests $954 million as an emergency supplemental for FY 2000 and $318 million in additional funding for FY 2001. The proposed U.S. assistance package will help Colombia address the breadth of the challenges it faces -- its efforts to fight the illicit drug trade, to increase the rule of law, to protect human rights, to expand economic development, to institute judicial reform, and to foster peace.

Five Components of Proposed U.S. Assistance

I. Improving Governing Capacity and Respect for Human Rights

The U.S. assistance package proposes $93 million over the next 2 years to fund programs administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Departments of State and Justice to strengthen Colombia's human rights record and judicial institutions. Specific initiatives include protecting human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), supporting human rights NGOs' information and education programs, creating and training special units of prosecutors and judicial police to investigate human rights cases, and training Colombian public defenders and judges. The U.S. assistance package proposes $15 million to support the Colombian Government and NGOs that are specifically focused on protecting human rights. These funds will also be used to train and support Colombian law enforcement personnel in anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, and anti-kidnapping measures.

II. Expansion of Counter-Narcotics Operations Into Southern Colombia

The U.S. assistance package proposes $600 million over the next 2 years to help train and equip two additional Colombian counter-narcotics battalions, which will move into southern Colombia to protect the Colombian National Police as they carry out counter-drug missions. The program will provide 30 Blackhawk helicopters and 33 Huey helicopters to make the counter-narcotics battalions air mobile so they can access the remote areas of coca cultivation and cocaine processing in southern Colombia. This assistance will also enhance intelligence for counter-narcotics activities.

Funding for this element of Plan Colombia includes important humanitarian assistance and development components. It proposes $15 million to help persons displaced by conflict in the region. That funding is in addition to funds previously provided by the U.S. Government to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to assist internally displaced persons in Colombia. This funding component also proposes $16 million in developmental assistance, including technical and agricultural assistance to the farmers of southern Colombia.

III. Alternative Economic Development

The U.S. assistance package proposes $145 million over the next 2 years, including more than $45 million of new funds to provide economic alternatives for small farmers in Colombia who now grow coca and opium poppies plus another $30 million for regional efforts. As interdiction and eradication make narcotics farming less profitable, these programs will assist communities in transition to legal economic activity. This component includes programs to build schools, roads, and clinics as well as $15 million to strengthen local governments. This component of U.S. assistance to Plan Colombia also includes funds to protect fragile lands and watersheds.

IV. Increased Interdiction in Colombia and the Region

The U.S. assistance package proposes $340 million for interdiction of narcotics. The program includes funding over the next 2 years for radar upgrades to give Colombia a greater capacity to intercept traffickers, and also to enhance intelligence to allow the Colombian police and military to respond quickly to narcotics activity. It will support the United States' forward operating locations in Manta, Ecuador, which will be used for narcotics-related missions. These funds will also provide $46 million to enhance interdiction efforts in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

V. Assistance for the Colombian National Police

The U.S. assistance package proposes additional funding of $96 million over the next 2 years to enhance the ability of the Colombian National Police to eradicate coca and poppy fields. This additional assistance will upgrade existing aircraft, purchase additional spray aircraft, provide secure bases for increased operations in the coca-growing centers, and provide more intelligence on narcotics traffickers.

Related Issues

The Peace Process. The U.S. and Colombian Governments agree that ending the civil conflict is central to solving Colombia's problems. A peace agreement would stabilize the nation, would speed economic recovery, and would help assure the protection of human rights. A successful peace process would also restore the authority and control of the Colombian Government in the coca-growing region. The U.S. Government is hopeful that the peace negotiations now going on between the Colombian Government and the FARC guerrilla group and the Colombian Government and the ELN guerrilla group prove successful.

U.S. assistance in support of Plan Colombia is intended to counter the illicit trade in narcotics. All U.S. counter-narcotics assistance to Colombia will continue to be in the form of goods and services. The counter-narcotics components of Plan Colombia will be implemented by the Colombian police and the Colombian armed forces. U.S. assistance for Plan Colombia includes no plans for the use of U.S. armed forces to implement any aspect of Plan Colombia.

Human Rights. U.S. assistance to Colombian military and police forces is provided under strict application of U.S. law designed to protect human rights -- the so-called "Leahy Amendment." No U.S. assistance is provided to any unit of the Colombian security forces for which there is credible evidence of gross human rights violations, unless the Secretary of State is able to certify that the Government of Colombia has taken effective measures to bring those responsible to justice. The U.S. Government has in place a rigorous process to screen those units being considered to receive assistance or training.

Displaced Persons. NGOs report that Colombia has the fourth-largest population of internally displaced persons in the world. The vicious conflict between paramilitaries and guerrillas is largely responsible for the forced displacement of Colombians. As many as 300,000 persons, mostly women and children, were driven from their homes in 1998 by rural violence. The U.S. Government provided, in 1999, $5.8 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross' Western Hemisphere Operations for assistance to internally displaced persons, with an additional $3 million earmarked for Colombia. The U.S. contributed another $4.7 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) general fund for the Western Hemisphere, a portion of which was used for institutional capacity building in Colombia. New U.S. Government assistance for Plan Colombia includes an additional $15 million to help those displaced by conflict in southern Colombia.

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