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Analysis: Colombia's Parapolitics

Council on Foreign Relations

March 30, 2007
Prepared by: Stephanie Hanson

Cocaine is back in fashion among the rich and fabulous, according to W magazine. The music community is abuzz as well; so many hip-hop artists are rapping about dealing “snow” that critics have dubbed a new subgenre—cocaine rap (New Yorker). Such anecdotal evidence suggests the United States is losing the war on drugs. Yet Colombia—the source of nearly 90 percent of the cocaine entering the United States—remains the United States’ closest ally in Latin America, not to mention the recipient of some $5.4 billion in aid since 2000 through Plan Colombia, an ambitious and widely criticized counternarcotics initiative.

On a much-publicized visit to Bogota in mid-March, President Bush spent just a few hours with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe but praised his efforts to combat narcotics trafficking and improve security. “I’m proud to call you a personal friend,” he said, “and I’m proud to call your country a strategic ally of the United States.” The Colombians were less enthusiastic: Local media offered biting criticism (The Week) of Bush and remarked on the necessity of bringing over twenty thousand police in for security despite the billions in counternarcotics aid the United States has poured into the country.

The Colombian population may be anti-Bush, but it’s adamantly pro-Uribe. Since taking office in 2002, Uribe has increased security in Colombia’s three primary cities and precipitated an economic upturn, changes most attribute to his crackdown on the country’s left-wing guerrillas and initiation of a disarmament program for its right-wing paramilitaries. Some 72 percent of the population still approve (Angus Reid) of their president’s performance, despite the paramilitary scandal currently rocking the country.


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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.



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