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The second phase of Plan Colombia


So, we’ve had seven years of Plan Colombia which was initiated, famously, with 1.3 billion from the US and an additional 4-5 billion of Colombians’ money. The money paid for helicopters, mainly, and other military hardware and support to the Colombian army to fight ‘drugs’ – mainly to provide military support for aerial fumigation. It’s been 7 years with no effect on drug supply or demand, though there have been ‘successes’ in other realms – to which I’ll return. But first, the news – that after 7 years of Plan Colombia, they’re entering a second phase, according to El Tiempo, Colombia’s national newspaper. Its features:

-It is around $44 billion pesos to start, which is about $23 million USD
-The “international community” will provide 30%
-It is a 6-year plan, going to 2013
-Over the course of the plan, some $3.6 billion USD will come from the US, $9 billion USD from Europe and Asia
-86% of the plan will go to ‘development’, 14% to military expenditure against ‘drugs’.

The first plan had the following features.

-Between 2000-2006, the US put $4.7 billion USD into Plan Colombia, the Europeans about $1 billion, and Colombia $7.5 billion.
-57% of this went to ‘fighting drugs’, 43% to ‘social investment’

In the very same edition of El Tiempo, we get a sense of the success of Plan Colombia. I have been a bit derilect in covering this here, but the shining jewel in the crown of Plan Colombia is the government’s negotiation with the paramilitaries, by which these mass murderers, who were always supported and trained and armed by the army and the US, confess their crimes, ‘reintegrate’ into society, and ‘put down their weapons’. The major media event in this is paramilitary commander Salvatore Mancuso’s ongoing confessions of his massacres, torture, and assassinations. This process, in which the government negotiates with itself and gives itself some benefits, has given rise to a movement of victims, families of victims of paramilitary massacre who have demanded truth and justice and who have entered the judicial process to have their voices heard.

One such courageous witness was Yolanda Izquierdo, who was murdered yesterday by a couple of gunmen on motorcycles. Her husband is dying. She had been threatened and had announced the threats in El Tiempo. Others: Freddy Abel Espitia, president of the Committee of the Displaced of Cotorra, killed on December 28.

The same article on Izquierdo’s murder provides a summary of some of the statistics from the Colombian Commission of Jurists, a human rights group, for the past 4 years.

20,102 killed
11,292 killed outside of combat
75.1% of killed outside of combat attributed to the state
397 per year, on average, killed by the guerrillas
1060 per year, on average, killed by the paramilitaries
1741 people killed in massacres
823 people tortured
6192 people arbitrarily detained

More than anything, this is a (partial) balance sheet of Plan Colombia itself, and one of the measures of its success. A full balance sheet would include the territories and resources that changed hands in the ‘agrarian counter-reform’ by which the paramilitaries displaced 4 million people from their land by way of these killings and massacres in order to hand the territory over for megaprojects. It would also include 3 more years of this. And changes to the constitution, the mining code, the labor law. The destruction of the labor movement and the social organizations. Someone is certainly profiting from all this, and wants to ensure that it continues, all the way to 2013.

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