Key challenges facing Colombia include the cultivation of illicit crops, production and trafficking of illegal drugs, criminal activities of and associated violence committed by transnational criminal organizations, and a stressed judicial system. Colombia confronts a lack of governance in many areas, reinforced by difficult terrain, which allows criminals to operate with relative impunity in many areas. This lack of governance also contributes to the illicit cultivation of the coca plant. Through years of aerial and manual eradication and law enforcement support from the United States through INL programs, however, Colombia was able to reduce, by 52 percent, the estimated amount of coca cultivation from 167,000 hectares (ha) in 2007 to 80,500 ha in 2013. However, between 2013 and 2014, the last year for which data is available, there was a 39 percent spike in cultivation up to 112,000 ha due in large part to cultivation of coca migrating to areas off limits to aerial eradication. Similarly, while cocaine production potential also showed a decrease of 58 percent for the same time period, between 2013 and 2014, there was an associated increase of 30 percent from 185 metric tons (MT) to 245 MT. In 2014, Colombia eradicated 67,234 ha of coca, and 207.4 metric tons (MT) of cocaine and cocaine base were interdicted by Colombian authorities and/or with Colombian intelligence. The challenges facing Colombia directly impact the United States given that over 90 percent of cocaine in the United States comes from Colombia.
INL’s objectives in Colombia are to reduce coca cultivation and the production of cocaine, disrupt and minimize trafficking routes for illegal drugs, and build the capacity of the Colombian National Police (CNP) to dismantle criminal networks and investigate crime more effectively. INL also works to strengthen the ability of rule of law institutions, such as the Office of the Attorney General, to investigate and prosecute alleged perpetrators of narcotics violations and other serious crimes. Finally, INL seeks to enable and strengthen Colombia’s capacity to share its considerable security expertise with other countries, an effort made possible in part through the successes of Plan Colombia.
Colombia is our closest ally in the region and the United States is invested in maintaining this crucially important relationship. With INL support, Colombia has secured major achievements in security in the last decade. Between 2002 and 2014, homicides and kidnappings fell by 54 and 90 percent, respectively. From 2009 to 2014, the Colombian National Police reported training nearly 26,500 international police personnel from over 61 countries, most of which are in Latin America but also in Africa and Europe. The result of our strong bilateral partnership is a safer, more secure, and stable Colombia capable of stemming the flow of narcotics into the United States and throughout the region and capable of exporting its security expertise to the region and beyond.