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Plan Colombia: Whatís The Real US Agenda? 
A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski (03-24-01)

Plan Columbia, which provides extensive military aide to the Columbian Army to fight the drug war, is Internationally controversial and is not strongly supported within Columbia.  There are strong indicators that this money would be better spent by implementing drug courts and expanding the community-based drug treatment programs needed to support them.

<Mr. Gorski Is Available To Speak Or Consult On 
Public Health Addiction Policy As An Alternative To The War On Drugs>

I recently read an article published in The Irish Times published on August 23, 2000 which raised some disturbing questions concerning the real agenda behind U.S. Plan Columbia.  I have read similar views of Plan Columbia in the international press over the past year, but I have not seen these views reported in the U.S. main-stream media.  

I believe that it's important for addiction and mental health professionals to be aware of the international controversy over Plan Columbia and other aspects of America's Drug War.  It's also important to recognize that Plan Columbia and other the supply reduction programs of the war on drugs are draining money that would be better spent implementing drug courts and expanding the community-based addiction treatment programs needed to support them.  

<Click here to review the proposed budget and government rationale for Plan Columbia>

Plan Columbia is the biggest aid package every offered to a Latin American country.  This money is being made available for paramilitary antidrug activities at time when treatment funding is inadequate to meet the needs of the addicts who want treatment.  

When it was launched by President Clinton in 2000, he said it would combat drug abuse in the United States while underscoring America's support for Colombia's efforts to seek peace, fight illicit drugs, build its economy, and deepen democracy.  International critics, however, see Plan Columbia as a vehicle to permit the US to enter the counter-insurgency war against the guerrilla factions in Columbia under the cover of "counter-narcotics". Plan Colombia is.  

The plan is opposed by many in Colombia who believe it will escalate and prolong 30 years of armed conflict. Far from bringing peace, they believe it will drag the country deeper into bloodshed.  In July of 2000, a coalition of 37 Colombian human rights and other NGO groups signed a statement rejecting Plan Columbia citing ethical and political difficulties in receiving aid from this program. Their message to Europe: withhold support from Plan Colombia and become actively involved in the search for alternatives.

Far from helping Colombia to "strengthen its democracy", U.S. policies may have done the opposite.  Much of the US Military Aide could end up in the hands of an army with a record of human rights abuses that refuses to disengage from drug trafficking and from the notorious "paramilitaries" - Colombian jargon for right-wing death squads.  American involvement has not and probably will not end the reign of terror being imposed upon Columbian citizens who continue to be terrorized, driven into exile and slaughtered with impunity. There were 402 reported massacres involving the slaughter defenseless villagers in 1999 attributed to "paramilitaries".

There are three revolutionary forces that threaten the elected government in Columbia: the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the ELN (Army of National Liberation) guerrillas, and the newly emerging "paramilitaries".  Plan Columbia will supply arms and military training that will probably escalate rather than end the blood shed related to the military operations of these three groups.  The U.S. could very well become entrapped in a Viet Nam style no-win civil insurgency.

When the Communist threat vanished with the collapse of the Soviet Union, justification for funding US international paramilitary operations was lost.  A new threat emerged justifying these operations.  That threat was narco-terrorism.  The response to that threat was the expansion and redirection of the War On Drugs.

Domestically, the war on drugs has become a war on addicts that is fought by police and has resulted in the long-term incarceration of over 500,000 non-violent drug offenders.  Internationally the war on drugs has become a vehicle to support US paramilitary intervention in third world countries. 

The War on Drugs has not been effective in reducing drug abuse in the United States.  There is strong evidence that implementation of Public Health Addiction Policy based upon treatment alternatives to incarceration would be far more effective and less costly.  

Click Here To Review Gorskiís Slide Show That Presents The Most Recent Research

It's important for the providers of addiction, mental health, and social service programs to recognize that Plan Columbia and other the supply reduction programs of the war on drugs are draining money that would be better spent implementing drug courts and expanding the community-based addiction treatment programs needed to support them.  It would be wise to start lobbying to direction War On Drugs dollars into community based treatment and social programs.

<Mr. Gorski Is Available To Speak Or Consult On 
Public Health Addiction Policy As An Alternative To The War On Drugs

 

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