Polo Democratico Declaration on Plan Colombia Phase II
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Original available here
Translated by Dan Whitesell
At the beginning of 2007 the Colombian government presented the Strategy to Strengthen Democracy and Social Development 2007-2013, better known as Phase II of Plan Colombia. The goal of this strategy is to seek support from the international community for the consolidation of what the (Colombian) government considers the achievements of both Plan Colombia I (1999-2006) and the policy of Democratic Security.
Just as happened with the first phase of Plan Colombia, the second phase is now being discussed in the United States Congress without having been presented to the Colombian Congress. Nevertheless, just as in the case of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), its passage faces serious difficulties, due to opposition by Democrats stemming from persistent human rights violations, particularly of union leaders and labor organizers in Colombia, and because of the para-political scandal, which has seen an important number of Congress members who are part of the Uribe government being prosecuted or in prison for their ties to paramilitary groups.
The PDA welcomes the position of different political, social and public opinion sectors in the United States that have been opposing the passage of these plans for Colombia. With respect to Phase II of Plan Colombia, we would like to call attention to its fundamental points, which, if put in practice, will contribute to increasing the humanitarian and social crisis, making more remote the possibilities for obtaining a negotiated settlement to the Colombian armed conflict that has lasted for decades now.
Plan Colombia has nine objectives and six primary components: the fight against drugs and terrorism; strengthening of law and justice and promotion of human rights; opening of markets; comprehensive social development; comprehensive assistance for the displaced population; and demobilization, disarmament and reintegration. According to the Plan's official document, presented by PlaneaciÃ³n Nacional, its central goal consists of "consolidating the achievements obtained, and extending the effective authority of the State and the new law and order model to the whole country, with the ultimate goal of protecting the population and promoting its welfare" (p. 41). Yet these components can be reduced to two basic policies, in accordance with the strategies of the United States in Colombia and with President Uribe's policy of Democratic Security: first, the war against drugs and terrorism, and second, the deepening of neoliberal policies through the passage and implementation of the FTA.
The first component of Plan Colombia provides for the fusion of the antidrug war with the counterinsurgency strategy, under the designation "narcoterrorist threat." Around this component the document defines two lines of action: the policy of consolidating Democratic Security and the policy of the war on drugs. On this point, it should be emphasized that the government's so-called war on terrorism incorporates the Doctrine of Integrated Action, based on the new ( U.S.) doctrine of the Southern Command Partnership for the Americas, and seeks the coordination of military, political, security and defense actions with state civil actions.
Just as has been widely documented and denounced, the application of Plan Colombia and the policy of Democratic Security has meant permanent human rights violations in the communities targeted for forced crop destruction, primarily in the areas of health, environment and food security. Thousands of people find themselves forcefully displaced to neighboring countries, particularly to Ecuador, as a consequence of aerial fumigation. This adds to the country's serious humanitarian crisis: three million internally displaced persons, the highest figure in the entire Western Hemisphere. The official policies of assistance for the displaced included in the Plan are no more than superficial measures, completely insufficient to deal with the magnitude of the problem.
As for the war on drugs, various reports, national as well as international, show that the eradication of crops for illicit use has been a failure in terms of drug availability on the international market. There hasn't been a substantial change in the drug supply coming out of Colombia.
Furthermore, drug-trafficking organizations, far from being dismantled, have been strengthened by their ties with paramilitary groups, which under President Urine's two terms have achieved greater political, economic and social control of different regions of the country, as can be deduced from the discovery of mass graves and from the outcomes of recent regional elections. In this regard, the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration strategy of Phase II of Plan Colombia contains two structural faults: the impossibility of national reconciliation based on impunity and contempt for the rights of victims and the idea that this strategy is being applied in a postconflict scenario in which the problem has supposedly been resolved. The so-called emerging or "new generation" paramilitary groups cannot be considered occurrences that are collateral to the process; rather they are the consequence of the institutionalization of the paramilitary strategy. Negotiation with paramilitary groups, under the protection of the Law of Justice and Peace, is included in the new phase of Plan Colombia and is the issue around which great international controversy has been raised.
Consistent with the position of Alvaro Uribe Velez's government, the antiterrorist component of the Plan flatly denies the existence of the internal armed conflict in Colombia, which has serious implications for the application of International Humanitarian Law and, consequently, makes the achievement of the Humanitarian Treaty more difficult. The armed conflict, far from being resolved, manifests itself in different regions of the country, with very serious consequences for indigenous peoples, peoples of African descent and the peasant population in general.
The economic component, presented as the "opening of markets," focuses on the promotion of the FTA and the preparation of the Colombian economy for its implementation. This is articulated through a series of "reforms," among them the recent reform of the General Fund Sharing System, better known as the Transfer Reform, which will seriously cut back the social investment resources that go to institutions of the different regions. With this strategy they are seeking to privatize, hand over natural resources to multinationals, provide cheap Colombian labor and also legalize the plunder of extensive zones of national territory, where entire populations have been victims of paramilitary vigilante groups that took over their lands.
Finally, Phase II of Plan Colombia will have a cost of $43,836,000, most of which will be assumed by Colombia, and the United States will be allowed to participate in the management of our national budget resources and to move Colombia toward a patronage system. The Plan is being presented at a time when Washington is announcing a cut in military aid to Colombia, which will lead to increased military spending by the state and, as a result, to a greater reduction in public and social spending.
Thus Plan Colombia Phase II, instead of helping to solve the conflict and bring peace to the country, comes as a war plan that will strengthen the dynamics of the conflict, with ever more blatant intervention by the United States in the affairs of Colombia.