Problems with Current U.S. Policy.Key Problems
* The U.S. policy debate has not adequately addressed the ties of paramilitary groups The list of paramilitary groups includes all organized armed groups not officially considered a national military force. Groups are listed alphabetically, with the common name as the primary entry. both to the Colombian military and to drug operations.
* Over the past decade, aerial eradication in Colombia has not proved effective, and it poses both health and environmental risks.
* Aid to Andean militaries is unlikely to improve regional security. Instead, it is having a destabilizing effect, particularly in Ecuador.
The Andean Regional Initiative is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the production and trafficking of drugs in the region. It continues U.S. support for eradication programs that have had little success, have angered rural communities, and are threatening human health and the environment. Moreover, the new package once again fails to address the major problem of the growth of paramilitary violence and associated human rights abuses.
The ARI ARI Acute respiratory infection, see there includes hundreds of millions of dollars for the Colombian Army and police, which continue to work hand-in-glove with paramilitary groups. Paramilitary squads often do what the military does not want to risk or be seen doing: gaining control of rural areas by killing or forcibly forc·i·ble
1. Effected against resistance through the use of force: The police used forcible restraint in order to subdue the assailant.
2. Characterized by force; powerful. evicting peasant families. Yet the well-documented links of paramilitary squads to the army, as well as to illicit drug illicit drug Street drug, see there operations, have been largely absent from the official U.S. debate.
Paramilitary organizations are deeply involved in all phases of the drug trade: they tax drug production, run cocaine laboratories, protect trafficking routes, and even run drugs themselves. The Drug Enforcement Administration The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was established in 1973 by President richard m. nixon as part of the Justice Department, thus uniting a number of federal drug agencies that had often worked at cross-purposes. (DEA DEA - Data Encryption Algorithm ) called Carlos Castano, leader of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC AUC
area under curve ) paramilitary group, a "major drug dealer in his own right." It concluded that he is closely linked to the drug syndicates now responsible for shipping "tons of cocaine and heroin into the U.S." Washington's counternarcotics strategy, however, is focused on the southern regions where leftist left·ism also Left·ism
1. The ideology of the political left.
2. Belief in or support of the tenets of the political left.
left guerrillas have established a stronghold while ignoring the northern regions, where paramilitary forces Forces or groups distinct from the regular armed forces of any country, but resembling them in organization, equipment, training, or mission. control the drug trade.
And paramilitary violence is increasing. The Colombian Commission of Jurists The following lists are of prominent jurists, including judges, listed in alphabetical order by jurisdiction. See also list of lawyers. Antiquity
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a Colombian government human rights agency, civilian deaths by armed actors rose 75% in 2000, with paramilitaries responsible for almost all of the increase.
In a particularly brutal incident in April 2001, a paramilitary squad killed at least 40 peasants in the Alto Naya region of southwestern Colombia, dismembering some with chainsaws. Less than a month before, UN and Colombian government representatives had warned the security forces of possible paramilitary attacks in the region, but the Colombian Army arrived five days after the slaughter began. Bogota has failed to take the necessary measures--including prosecuting military officers involved in paramilitary activity--to stop paramilitary violence. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office has found that "the paramilitary phenomenon continues to expand and consolidate. The government's commitment to confronting these groups has been weak and inconsistent."
The ARI will continue aerial fumigation fumigation: see disinfectant. programs, which began in Colombia in 1992 and have expanded since December 2000. But aerial eradication has not proved effective in stopping coca production, and its human and environmental cost is high. In recent years, coca cultivation has dramatically increased, as aerial eradication--without accompanying alternative development programs--shifted production from Guaviare province in south central Colombia to the Putumayo region along the Ecuadorian border. State Department officials concede that eradication is causing a shift in cultivation to new areas in Colombia and is also likely to reactivate re·ac·ti·vate
1. To make active again.
2. To restore the ability to function or the effectiveness of.
re·ac production in traditional areas in Bolivia and Peru. Coca prices have recently risen in Peru, and government officials there fear that thousands of peasant families may be tempted to return to coca cultivation, because alternative development programs have failed to establish other sustainable cash crops.
Both Bogota and Washington measure success not in terms of decreased drug flows to the U.S. but in terms of a reduced rate of coca expansion. Even so, achievements have been nominal, at best. By mid-2001, Colombian and U.S. officials boasted that they had sprayed 125,000 acres. Yet coca cultivation in Colombia, estimated by the U.S. and UN to cover 336,000 to 402,000 acres in late 2000, was far higher than earlier U.S. calculations. "Everywhere we look there is more coca than we expected," conceded U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson in July 2001. Cultivation of heroin poppies is also increasing. Moreover, the price of cocaine in the U.S. remained unchanged since Plan Colombia The term Plan Colombia is most often used to refer to controversial U.S. legislation aimed at curbing drug smuggling by supporting different Drug War activities in Colombia. was launched, according to a May 2001 DEA report.
Six governors from Colombia's southern provinces have repeatedly called for a halt to U.S.-funded aerial fumigation, complaining that it is destroying farmers' legal cash, food, and animal feed crops. The governors do support manual eradication if accompanied by serious alternative development programs. Officials and human rights activists in the region worry that fumigation is exacerbating social tensions and dislocations and that peasants are losing trust in the government, fleeing their homes, and may be joining either the guerrillas or paramilitaries.
The ARI aims to improve security in surrounding countries and to guard against the collateral damage collateral damage Surgery A popular term for any undesired but unavoidable co-morbidity associated with a therapy–eg, chemotherapy-induced CD to the BM and GI tract as a side effect of destroying tumor cells of Plan Colombia, but this approach has little chance of success. Ecuador, in particular, is being drawn into the Colombian conflict. Ecuador's army has clashed with Colombian guerrillas in the border area, and increasing numbers of refugees are fleeing into Ecuador's Amazon region. In addition, Ecuadorian legislators have expressed concern about the U.S. military's new "operational facility" in Manta, on Ecuador's coast near the border with Colombia. The Manta base serves as the main hub for U.S. counterdrug surveillance flights, and up to 400 U.S. military personnel may be stationed there.
Gina Amatangelo <GAmatangelo@wola.org> is a Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is an American non-governmental organization (NGO) whose stated goal is to monitor the impact of US foreign policy on human rights, democracy and equitable development in Latin America. , specializing in international drug control programs in the Andes region.