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Plan Colombia: Reality of the Colombian Crisis and Implications for Hemispheric Security

Authored by Dr. Luz E. Nagle.

December 01, 2002

68 Pages

Brief Synopsis

The author analyzes Colombia's problems and makes recommendations regarding what it will take to achieve stated U.S. and Colombian objectives in that crisis situation. She also examines the concomitant issue of "spillover" from the Colombian crisis into the rest of the Latin American region. The results and recommendations of this analysis go well beyond prescribing a simple military solution to the complex political-economic-social-moral-security issues of this 50-year-old war. In these terms, it becomes clear that the military in general and the U.S. Army in particular must change in order to operate more effectively in the full spectrum of current and future conflict.


In this new monograph, Professor Luz Nagle examines the status of Plan Colombia within the context of Colombia’s political and social turmoil. Intended as an ambitious program to achieve decisive results in a war against illegal drugs fought in amajor source country, Plan Colombia’s implementation has been wrought with corruption, delays, and problems in program implementation, tactical shortcomings and oversights, and lack of backing by the Colombian elites. Plan Colombia was also meant to define President Pastrana’s legacy to his country. But his failure to bring the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other irregular combatants into serious peace negotiations, his inability to curtail institutional corruption in the civilian and military branches of government, and his lack of support from the Colombian people further conspired to prevent Plan Colombia from achieving the desired results.

It is now up to a new administration headed by President Alvaro Uribe to determine how best to do two things. First, the Uribe administration must come to terms with the corruption that has rendered the Colombian government ineffective for decades, and has precluded the success of Plan Colombia and past aid programs. At the same time, it must seek and utilize new U.S. aid, intelligence resources, and military equipment in the fight against the narcoterrorists/narcoguerrillas, and fulfill its commitment as a reliable ally in the international war on terror.

Nagle concludes that the war against international terrorism is being fought on Colombian soil, and makes a series of observations and recommendations about what it will take for Colombia to overcome its own internal crises of armed conflict and institutional corruption, fulfill its regional security and counternarcotics obligations, and fight the global war against terror.

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