Challenges: The cultivation of illicit crops, the production and trafficking of illegal drugs, the existence of transnational organized crime and illegally armed groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the violence associated with these groups, and a stressed judicial system are challenges facing Colombia in 2013, all of which intersect with the work and mission of INL. Colombia also confronts a lack of governance in many rural areas, reinforced by difficult terrain, which allows criminals to operate with impunity and facilitates the illicit cultivation of the coca plant. Through years of aerial and manual eradication and the support of the United States through INL programs, however, Colombia has been able to reduce, by 53 percent, the estimated amount of coca cultivation from 167,000 hectares (ha) in 2007 to 78,000 ha in 2012, the last year for which data is available. In 2012, Colombia eradicated 130,157 ha of coca and interdicted 279 metric tons (MT) of cocaine. The challenges facing Colombia directly impact the United States because over 90 percent of cocaine in the United States comes from Colombia.
Goals: 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 investigate crime more effectively. We also work to strengthen rule of law institutions, such as the Office of the Attorney General, and their ability to investigate and prosecute criminals and violators of human rights. Facilitating Colombia’s exportation of its considerable security expertise, made possible in part through the successes of Plan Colombia, is also of paramount importance to the United States.
Accomplishments: With INL support, Colombia has secured major achievements in terms of improved security in the last decade. Homicide, political assassinations, and kidnappings have all been drastically reduced by 48, 84, and 89 percent, respectively, from 2002 to 2012. Colombia is experiencing the lowest level of coca cultivation since 1996 – a 53 percent reduction since 2007. It is now the second largest cocaine-producing Andean country, behind in Peru and ahead of Bolivia, for the third consecutive year. Cocaine production potential is down 60 percent since 2007 to 175 MT in 2012. 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 Central America and beyond.