For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.
Republic of Colombia
Area: 1.14 million sq. km. (440,000 sq. mi.); about three times the size of Montana; fourth-largest country in South America.
Cities: Capital--Bogot� (pop. 2004 projected: 7 million). Other major cities include Medell�n, Cali, Barranquilla, and Cartagena.
Terrain: Flat coastal areas, with extensive coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, three rugged parallel mountain chains, central highlands, and flat eastern grasslands.
Climate: Tropical on coast and eastern plains, cooler in highlands.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Colombian(s).
Population (2004 projected): 45 million
Annual population growth: 1.8%
Religion: Roman Catholic 90%.
Education: Years compulsory--9. Attendance--80% of children enter school. Only 5 years of primary school are offered in many rural areas. Literacy--93% in urban areas, 67% in rural areas.
Health: Infant mortality rate--25/1,000. Life expectancy--men 65 yrs., women 76 yrs.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo (58%), white (20%), mulatto (14%), black (4%), mixed black-Amerindian (3%), and Amerindian (1%)
Independence: July 20, 1810.
Constitution: July 1991.
Branches: Executive--President (chief of state and head of government). Legislative--Bicameral Congress.
Judicial--Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, Council of State, Superior Judicial Council.
Administrative divisions: 32 departments; Bogot�, capital district.
Major political parties: Conservative Party of Colombia, Liberal Party, and numerous small political movements (most of them allied with one or the other major party).
Suffrage: Universal, age 18 and over.
GDP (2004 projected): $83.01 billion
Annual growth rate (2004 projected): 4%.
Per capita GDP (2003 projected): $1,844.
Government Expenditures (2005 projected): 22.2% of GDP.
Natural resources: Coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, nickel, gold, silver, copper, platinum, emeralds.
Manufacturing (14.3 of GDP): Types--textiles and garments, chemicals, metal products, cement, cardboard containers, plastic resins and manufactures, beverages, wood products, pharmaceuticals, machinery, electrical equipment.
Agriculture (13.8% of GDP): Products--coffee, bananas, cut flowers, cotton, sugarcane, livestock, rice, corn, tobacco, potatoes, soybeans, sorghum. Cultivated land: 8.2% of total area.
Other sectors (by percentage of GDP): Financial services--17.6%; commerce--10.8%; transportation and communications services--8.2%; mining and quarrying--4.6%; construction and public works--4.8%; electricity, gas, and water--3.1%
Trade: Exports (2004 projected)--$15.1 billion: petroleum, coal, coffee, flowers, textiles and garments, ferronickel, bananas, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, gold, sugar, cardboard containers, printed material, cement, plastic resins and manufactures, emeralds. Major markets--U.S., Venezuela, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, . Imports (2004 projected)--$14.8 billion: machinery/equipment, grains, chemicals, transportation equipment, mineral products, consumer products, metals/metal products, plastic/rubber, paper products, aircraft, oil and gas industry equipment, and supplies. Major suppliers--U.S., Germany, Japan, Panama, Venezuela.
Colombia is the third-most populous country in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico. Migration from rural to urban areas has been prevalent. The urban population increased from 57% of the total population in 1951 to approximately 74% by 1994 (when the last census was held). Thirty cities have a population of 100,000 or more. The nine eastern lowlands departments, constituting about 54% of Colombia's area, have less than 3% of the population and a density of less than one person per square kilometer (two persons per sq. mi.). Ethnic diversity in Colombia is a result of the intermingling of indigenous peoples, European immigrants, and Africans. Today, only about 1% of the people can be identified as fully indigenous on the basis of language and customs.
HISTORY, GOVERNMENT, AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
During the pre-Columbian period, the area now known as Colombia was inhabited by indigenous peoples who were hunters or nomadic farmers. The Chibchas, as they were called, were divided into two major groups: The Muisca of the Bogot� region and the Tairona of the northern Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region. Social organization of both groups revolved around the cultivation of corn and potatoes, and had a matrilineal hereditary tradition.
The Spanish sailed along the north coast of Colombia as early as 1500, but their first permanent settlement, at Santa Marta, was not established until 1525. In 1549, the area was a Spanish colony with the capital at Santa Fe de Bogot�. In 1717, Bogot� became the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, which included what are now Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. The city became one of the principal administrative centers of the Spanish possessions in the New World, along with Lima and Mexico City. On July 20, 1810, the citizens of Bogot� created the first representative council to defy Spanish authority. Full independence was proclaimed in 1813, and in 1819 the Republic of Greater Colombia was formed.
The new Republic of Greater Colombia included all the territory of the former Viceroyalty. Simon Bolivar was elected its first president with Francisco de Paula Santander as vice president. Conflicts between the followers of Bolivar and Santander led to the formation of two political parties that have since dominated Colombian politics. Bolivar's supporters, who later formed the nucleus of the Conservative Party, sought strong centralized government, alliance with the Roman Catholic Church, and a limited franchise. Santander's followers, forerunners of the Liberals, wanted a decentralized government, state rather than church control over education and other civil matters, and a broadened suffrage.
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, each party held the presidency for roughly equal periods of time, during which three notable statesmen stand out: Tom�s Cipriano de Mosquera, Rafael Nu�ez, and Rafael Reyes. Colombia maintained a tradition of civilian government and regular, free elections. Notwithstanding the country's commitment to democratic institutions, Colombia's history also has been characterized by widespread, violent conflict. Two civil wars resulted from bitter rivalry between the Conservative and Liberal parties: The War of a Thousand Days (1899-1902) claimed an estimated 100,000 lives, and La Violencia (1946-1957) cost another 300,000 Colombian lives.
La Violencia (The Violence)
The assassination of Liberal leader, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, in 1948 intensified the period of bloody conflict between liberals and conservatives known as La Violencia (The Violence). An archconservative dictator, Laureano Gomez, came to power in 1950, when the disjointed Liberal Party failed to put forward a presidential candidate. Most historians label Gomez as the belligerent driving force behind La Violencia in his quest against the spreading "basilisk" of Communism in Colombia. It was also during this period in Colombian history that the two major present day insurgent groups were born.
In 1953, Gomez fled into exile when ousted by a military coup led by General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. The new president was a lead actor in reducing the conflict during La Violencia. When he failed to restore democratic rule after four years and became implicated in corrupt schemes, however, he was overthrown by the military with the backing of the Liberal and Conservative Parties. It was out of this alliance between the two parties that the National Front emerged.
The National Front
In July 1957, former Conservative President Laureano Gomez (1950-53) and former Liberal President Alberto Lleras Camargo (1945-46) proclaimed the "Declaration of Sitges," in which they proposed a "National Front" whereby the Liberal and Conservative parties would govern jointly. The presidency would be determined by regular elections every 4 years; the two parties would have parity in all other elective and appointive offices.
The National Front ended "La Violencia," and National Front administrations instituted social and economic reforms in cooperation with the United States' Alliance for Progress. Although the system established by the Sitges agreement was phased out by 1978, the 1886 Colombian Constitution--in effect until 1991--required that the losing political party be given adequate and equitable participation in the government. The 1991 Constitution does not have that requirement, but subsequent administrations have included members of opposition parties.
Post-National Front Years
Between 1978 and 1982, the government focused on ending the limited, but persistent, Cuban-backed insurgencies that sought to undermine Colombia's traditional democratic system. In 1984, President Belisario Betancur, a Conservative who won 47% of the popular vote, negotiated a cease-fire that included the release of many guerrillas imprisoned during the effort to overpower the insurgents. The cease-fire ended when Democratic Alliance/M-19 (AD/M-19) guerrillas resumed fighting in 1985.
An attack on the Palace of Justice in Bogot� by the AD/M-19 on November 6-7, 1985, and its violent suppression by the army, shocked Colombians. Of the 115 people killed, 11 were Supreme Court justices. Although the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) renewed their truce in March 1986, peace with other revolutionary movements, in particular the AD/M-19--then the largest insurgent group--and the National Liberation Army (ELN) was remote as Betancur left office.
The AD/M-19 and several smaller guerilla groups were successfully incorporated into a peace process during the late 1980s, which culminated in a national assembly to write a new constitution, which took effect in 1991. The FARC had declared a unilateral cease-fire under Betancur, which led to the establishment of the Union Patriotica (UP), a legal and non-clandestine political organization. After growing violence against its UP members, when an estimated 1,000-3,000 members were killed, the truce with the FARC again ended in 1990. Following administrations had to contend with the guerrillas, paramilitaries, and narcotics traffickers. Narco-terrorists assassinated three presidential candidates before Cesar Gaviria Trujillo was elected in 1990. Since the death of Medell�n cartel leader Pablo Escobar in a police shootout in December 1993, indiscriminate acts of violence associated with his organization have abated as the "cartels" now are broken up into multiple, smaller and often-competing trafficking organizations. Nevertheless, violence continues as these drug organizations resort to violence as part of their operations, as well as to protest against government policies, especially extradition.
President Ernesto Samper assumed office in August 1994. However, a political crisis relating to large-scale contributions from drug traffickers to Samper's presidential campaign diverted attention from governance programs, thus slowing, and in many cases, halting progress on the nation's domestic reform agenda.
The Pastrana Administration and Peace Process
On August 7, 1998, Andres Pastrana became President of Colombia. A member of the Conservative Party, Pastrana defeated Liberal Party candidate Horacio Serpa in a run-off election marked by high voter turnout and little political unrest. During his administration, high unemployment, increased countrywide guerrilla attacks by the FARC and ELN, widespread drug production and the expansion of paramilitary groups all hindered the Pastrana administration's ability to solve the country's problems.
No single explanation fully addresses the deep roots of Colombia's present-day troubles, but they include limited government presence in large areas of the interior, the expansion of illicit drug cultivation, endemic violence, and social inequities. In order to confront these challenges, the Pastrana administration unveiled its "Plan Colombia" in late 1999, a comprehensive strategy to deal with these longstanding, mutually reinforcing problems. The main objectives of Plan Colombia are to promote peace, combat the narcotics industry, revive the Colombian economy, improve respect for human rights, and strengthen the democratic and social institutions of the country.
In November 1998, Pastrana ceded an area the size of Switzerland in south- central Colombia to the FARC's control as a goodwill gesture, but the rebels negotiated with the government only fitfully while continuing to mount attacks and expand their coca production, essentially establishing a parallel government in the region under their control. Negotiations with the rebels in 2000 and 2001 were marred by rebel attacks, kidnappings, and fighting between rebels and paramilitaries for control of coca-growing areas in Colombia. As a result, popular disenchantment with Pastrana increased.
In February 2002, after the FARC hijacked an airplane and kidnapped a senator, Pastrana ordered the military to attack rebel positions and reassert control over the rebel zone. FARC withdrew into the jungle and began attacks against the power grid, telecommunications facilities, and other aspects of Colombia's infrastructure in an attempt to disrupt the lives of the largely urban population while avoiding a direct conflict with the military.
The Uribe Administration
President Alvaro Uribe, a Harvard and Oxford-educated lawyer, was elected President of Colombia in May 2002 on a line platform to restore security to the country. An independent, he was elected with more than 50% of the vote, giving him a strong mandate. Among his promises was to continue to pursue the broad goals of the Pastrana administration's Plan Colombia, but within the framework of a long-term security strategy.
His inauguration on August 7, 2002 brought about violent attacks. Though Uribe was spared, the rockets launched at the presidential palace by FARC terrorists killed 19 people and injured many more. Uribe declared a state of limited emergency as a first step toward strengthening the country's law enforcement and military capabilities.
In the fall of 2002, the administration released the much-awaited Colombian national security strategy, entitled Democratic Security and Defense Policy. The Plan fit within the broader social, economic, and political goals of Plan Colombia. Though much attention has been focused on the security and military aspects of Colombia's situation, the administration also is spending significant time on issues such as expanding international trade, supporting alternate means of development, and reforming Colombia's judicial system.
Halfway through his four-year term, President Uribe enjoys record high popularity ratings around 70% as a result of improvements in public security. Between May 2002 and September 2004 Colombia saw a decrease in homicide by 17.6%, massacres by 55.4%, kidnappings by 35.1%, and acts of terrorism by 18.4%. The economy is projected to grow by over 4% in 2004, compared to 3% in 2003. Coca and poppy cultivation has decreased by 33% since 2001.
Colombia's Constitution, enacted in July 1991, strengthened the administration of justice with the provision for introduction of an accusatory system that will ultimately replace the existing Napoleonic Code. Other significant reforms under the new Constitution provide for civil divorce, dual nationality, the election of a vice president, and the election of departmental governors. The Constitution expanded citizens' basic rights, including that of "tutela," under which an immediate court action can be requested by an individual, if he/she feels that his/her constitutional rights are being violated, and there is no other legal recourse. The national government has executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as an independent Attorney General (fiscal) elected for a 4-year term by the Congress. The president is elected for a 4-year term and cannot be re-elected. The 1991 Constitution reestablished the position of vice president, who is elected on the same ticket as the president. By law, the vice president will succeed in the event of the president's resignation, illness, or death.
Colombia's bicameral Congress consists of a 102-member Senate and a 161-member House of Representatives. Senators are elected on the basis of a nationwide ballot, while representatives are elected in multimember districts co-located within the 32 national departments.
The country's capital is a separate district and elects its own representatives. Members may be re-elected indefinitely. Congress meets twice a year, and the president has the power to call it into special session, if required. Colombia's legal system has recently begun to incorporate some elements of an oral, adversarial system. The judicial branch's general structure is composed of four distinct jurisdictions (civilian, administrative, constitutional, and special). Colombia's highest judicial bodies include the co-equal Supreme Court, the Council of State, the Constitutional Court, and the Superior Judicial Council. This sometimes leads to conflicting opinions since there is no court that has clear authority over the decisions of the other three.
Principal Government Officials
President--�lvaro URIBE V�lez
Vice President--Francisco SANTOS Calder�n
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Carolina BARCO Isakson
Minister of Defense--Jorge Alberto URIBE Echavarr�a
Ambassador to the United States--Luis Alberto MORENO
Ambassador to the Organization of American States--�lvaro Tirado Mej�a
Ambassador to the United Nations--Mar�a Angela HOLGUĺN
Colombia maintains an embassy in the United States at 2118 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-387-8338). Consulates are located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, San Juan, and Washington.
Colombia's Ministry of Defense, charged with the country's internal and external defense and security, has an army, navy--including marines and coast guard--air force, and national police under the leadership of a civilian Minister of Defense. In 2000, Colombia assigned 3.2% of its GDP to defense, according to the National Planning Department. Real spending on defense has increased every year since 2000, but specifically so under Uribe. According to the most recent Ministry of Finance figures, Colombian spending on defense has grown over 30% from 6 trillion pesos in 2001 to more than 8 trillion in 2004. The security forces number about 350,000 uniformed personnel: 190,000 military and 160,000 police. President Uribe instituted a one-time wealth tax in 2002, which raised over USD 800 million (1.8 trillion pesos), with 70% used to increase 2002-2003 defense spending. Actual Ministry of Defense spending in 2004 has increased to 16.3% of the overall national budget, up from 12.9% in 2002, and is the third largest expenditure after social protection programs and education.
Many Colombian military personnel have received training in the United States or in Colombia. The United States has provided equipment to the Colombian military and police through the military assistance program, foreign military sales, and the international narcotics control program.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that more than 80% of the worldwide powder cocaine supply and approximately 90% of the powder cocaine smuggled into the United States is produced in Colombia. It is also a significant source of over 70% of the heroin consumed east of the Mississippi.
Terrorism in Colombia both supports and draws resources from the narcotics industry, kidnapping, and extortion, threatening U.S. citizens and economic interests. Colombia's terrorists have kidnapped over 50 American citizens since 1992, and killed at least 10. Three American citizens, who had been working on counternarcotics programs, are still being held hostage in Colombia, captured by the FARC in February 2003.
The Colombian government, with United States Government's support, is making progress to guarantee the rule of law throughout the country. Its citizens are safer than ever before, and the country enjoys effective guarantees for the exercise of political pluralism. Between May 2002 and September 2004 Colombia has seen a decrease in homicide by 17.6%, massacres by 55.4%, kidnappings by 35.1%, and acts of terrorism by 18.4%.
The government has also committed itself to the eradication of all illicit crops, interdiction of drug shipments, and financial controls to prevent money laundering. Also between May 2002 and September 2004, Colombian security forces have interdicted 558 metric tons of cocaine, coca base, and heroin. Coca and poppy cultivation has decreased by 33% since 2001.
There has been some progress towards peace negotiations with illegal armed groups. Formal peace talks between the government and the Colombian Self-Defense Forces (AUC) paramilitary group began in July of 2004 in Santa Fe de Ralito, in the northern department of Cordoba. The government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrilla group (FARC) have also been negotiating a humanitarian agreement that would include the release of American hostages.
Colombia is a free market economy with major commercial and investment ties to the United States. Transition from a highly regulated economy has been underway for more than a decade. In 1990, the administration of President Cesar Gaviria (1990-94) initiated economic liberalization or "apertura," and this has continued since then, with tariff reductions, financial deregulation, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and adoption of a more liberal foreign exchange rate. Almost all sectors became open to foreign investment although agricultural products remained protected. Colombia, with its Andean neighbors Peru and Ecuador, is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States.
Unlike many of its neighboring countries, Colombia has not suffered any dramatic economic collapses. The Uribe administration seeks to maintain prudent fiscal policies, and has pursued tough economic reforms include tax, pension and budget reforms. The administration has chosen to finance much of its increased spending on security through a one-time tax on the nation's wealthiest citizens. The administration also has pledged to invest heavily in the country's infrastructure. GDP growth for 2004 is projected to be 4% and as of July 2004, unemployment has declined to 12.9%.
In addition to the domestic goals of keeping inflation low and maintaining a stable currency (the Colombian peso), the administration has put a heavy emphasis on increasing trade liberalization. The administration's strong fiscal management helped it to be ranked by the World Bank in 2004 as having made the largest strides in Latin America in simplifying the requirements to start a business. The Colombia economy, which has stagnated since 1999, has started to rebound, as indicated by a 2004 second quarter GDP growth of 4.5%. Much of this impressive growth can be attributed to the Andean Trade Preference and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), which will expire in 2006. The ATPDEA-benefited exports to the U.S. fueled industrial production during the first quarter ($700 million in exports in the first quarter of 2003 vs. $700 million annually since the late 1990s). The GOC along with other Andean Nations and the US are currently engaged in Free Trade Negotiations, which are expected to be finished in 2005.
Colombia's balance of trade between January and July of 2004 showed a $333.4 million surplus. Total projected 2004 imports were $14.8 billion, while exports were $15.1 billion. Colombia's major exports continue to be petroleum, coffee, coal, nickel, gold, and nontraditional exports (e.g., cut flowers, semiprecious stones, sugar, and tropical fruits). The United States remained Colombia's major trading partner, with 42% of exports heading there. Exports to the U.S. have increased over 1.5 billion dollars since the inception of ATPDEA benefits. US exports to Colombia have also increased over 25% since that time. The EU, Japan, and the Andean Pact countries also are important trading partners.
Mining, manufacturing industries and oil have attracted the greatest U.S. investment interest in 2004. U.S. investment accounted 14.5% of the total $1.7 billion in foreign direct investment at the end of 2003.
Colombia has improved protection of intellectual property rights through the adoption of three Andean Pact decisions in 1993 and 1994, but the United States remains concerned over deficiencies in licensing, patent regulations, and copyright protection.
Mining and Energy
Colombia continues to have vast amounts of mineral resources and sufficient amounts of energy resources, specifically natural gas reserves. Although Colombia maintains its position as a net exporter of petroleum, Colombia's oil reserves have diminished dramatically, from 3.1 billion barrels in 1995 to less than 1.4 billion by the end of 2004. Total crude oil production has fallen to 541,000 b/d in 2003 from a high of 816,000 b/d in 1999. If a major oil discovery is not found in the next couple of years, Colombia will become a net oil importer by 2009.
The Pastrana and the Uribe administration have significantly liberalized Colombia's petroleum sector, leading to an increase in exploration and production contracts from both large and small hydrocarbon industries. In 2002, royalties were linked to the size of the discovery as opposed to a flat rate. In 2003, a new oil policy created the National Agency for Hydrocarbons, which as of 2004 administers all exploration and production contracts instead of Ecopetrol, the state owned hydrocarbon company. Ecopetrol must now compete along side other hydrocarbon companies for exploration and production contracts, separating state roles as investor and resource administrator. State association contracts have dropped from 30% to 0%, allowing private companies 100% ownership upon exploration success. Refining capacity can satisfy domestic demand for gasoline, but as of October 2004, Colombia's domestic demand for diesel outpaced its refining capacity. Colombia is in the process of renovating and expanding their Cartagena refinery in order to meet its domestic demands and eventually export more refined products.
The country's oil industry has continuously been a target of extortion and bombing campaigns by the ELN and the FARC; however, strong security polices and an offensive military posture have recently reduced attacks on pipelines. In the first eight months of 2004, there have been 66 attacks on oil pipelines, which is a decrease of 16% from 2003. Comparing the first eight months of 2003 and 2004, attacks against the Ca�o Lim�n-Cove�as pipeline significantly dropped from 24 to 15 attacks due to increased military presence and quicker military reaction to pipeline attacks.
Colombia has the largest coal reserves in Latin America. It also possesses significant amounts of ferronickel, gold, silver, platinum, and emeralds. For 2003, Colombia's production levels increased for carbon, gold, platinum, silver, emeralds, and nickel. Carbon production reached 49.4 million tons, a 25% increase from 2002. Gold production also experienced a major increase of 124% from 2002 to 2003, primarily due to the increase in the price of gold.
Foreign Direct Investment in the first semester of 2004 was USD 1.4 billion, a 73% increase over 2003. The bulk of the new investment, 77%, is in the mining and petroleum sectors. In 1991 and 1992, the government passed laws to stimulate foreign investment in nearly all sectors of the economy. The only activities closed to foreign direct investment are defense and national security, disposal of hazardous wastes, and real estate--the last of these restrictions is intended to hinder money laundering. Colombia established a special entity-CoInvertir--to assist foreigners in making investments in the country.
Industry and Agriculture
The most industrially diverse member of the five-nation Andean Community, Colombia has four major industrial centers--Bogot�, Medell�n, Cali, and Barranquilla--each located in a distinct geographical region. Colombia's industries include textiles and clothing, leather products, processed foods and beverages, paper and paper products, chemicals and petrochemicals, cement, construction, iron and steel products, and metalworking.
Colombia's diverse climate and topography permit the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. In addition, all regions yield forest products, ranging from tropical hardwoods in the lowlands to pine and eucalyptus in the colder areas. Cacao, sugarcane, coconuts, bananas, plantains, rice, cotton, tobacco, cassava, and most of the nation's beef cattle are produced in the hot regions from sea level to 1,000 meters elevation. The temperate regions--between 1,000 and 2,000 meters--are better suited for coffee; flowers; corn and other vegetables; and fruits such as citrus, pears, pineapples, and tomatoes. The cooler elevations--between 2,000 and 3,000 meters--produce wheat, barley, potatoes, cold-climate vegetables, flowers, dairy cattle, and poultry.
In 1969, Colombia, along with Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, formed what is now the Andean Community. (Venezuela joined in 1973 and Chile left in 1976.) In the 1980s, Colombia broadened its bilateral and multilateral relations, joining the Contadora Group, the Group of Eight (now the Rio Group), and the Non-Aligned Movement, which it chaired from 1994 until September 1998. In addition, it has signed free trade agreements with Chile, Mexico, and Venezuela.
Colombia has traditionally played an active role in the United Nations and the Organization of American States and in their subsidiary agencies. Former President Gaviria became Secretary General of the OAS in September 1994 and was re-elected in 1999. Colombia was a participant in the December 1994 and April 1998 Summits of the Americas and followed up on initiatives developed at the summit by hosting two post-summit, ministerial-level meetings on trade and science and technology.
In 1822, the United States became one of the first countries to recognize the new republic and to establish a resident diplomatic mission. Today, about 25,000 U.S. citizens are registered with the U.S. embassy as living in Colombia, most of them dual nationals.
Currently, there are about 250 American businesses conducting operations in Colombia. In 1995-96, the United States and Colombia signed important agreements on environmental protection and civil aviation. The two countries have signed agreements on asset sharing and chemical control. In 1997, the United States and Colombia signed an important maritime ship-boarding agreement to allow for search of suspected drug-running vessels.
During the period 1988-96, the United States provided about $765 million in assistance to Colombia. In 1999, U.S. assistance exceeded $200 million. This funding supported Colombia's counter-narcotics efforts, such as arresting drug traffickers, seizing drugs and illegal processing facilities, and eradicating coca and opium poppy.
During the Pastrana administration, relations with the United States improved significantly. The United States responded to the Colombian Government's request for international support for Plan Colombia by approving a $1.3 billion aid package in July 2000, in addition to previously programmed assistance of nearly $300 million for FY 2000. U.S. programs consisted of a combination of military and police assistance designed to increase counter-narcotics capabilities and included a package of nearly $230 million for human rights, humanitarian assistance, alternative development, and economic and judicial reforms. These programs were an integral component of U.S. support for Plan Colombia's overall goals.
U.S. support for Colombia continues to evolve under the Uribe administration. Recognizing that terrorism and the illicit narcotics trade in Colombia are inextricably linked, the U.S. Congress granted new expanded statutory authorities in 2002 making U.S. assistance to Colombia more flexible in order to better support President Uribe's unified campaign against narcotics and terrorism.
Close cooperation continues with passage by the United States of legislation providing about $560 million in additional funding for these programs. Moreover, since the end of the FARC safe haven, the United States has responded to the Colombian Government's request for increased intelligence support, expedited delivery of spare parts paid for by Colombia, and support for counter-narcotics operations in the former demilitarized zone.
The results thus far have been impressive, but there is still a lot of work remaining. U.S. policy toward Colombia supports the Colombian Government's efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions, promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, intensify counter-narcotics efforts, foster socioeconomic development, address immediate humanitarian needs, and end the threats to democracy posed by narcotics trafficking and terrorism. Promoting security, stability, and prosperity in Colombia will continue as long-term American interests in the region.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--William Braucher Wood
Deputy Chief of Mission--Milton K. Drucker
Political Counselor--Jeffrey A. Delaurentis
Economic Counselor--Francisco Fernandez
Consul General-- Raymond G. McGrath
Commercial Counselor--Larry Farris
Management Counselor--Paul Rowe
Military Group Commander—Col. Simeon Trombitas
Narcotics Affairs Section Director—Phyllis M. Powers
Defense Attach�--Col. William Graves
Public Affairs Officer--Anne T. Callaghan
Regional Security Office--Mark Hunter
USAID Director--Michael Deal
Calle 22D Bis, No. 47-51
(tel: (571) 315-0811; fax: (571) 315-2197).
The mailing address is APO AA 34038.
U.S. Consular Agency in Baranquilla
Calle 77, No. 68-15
(tel: (575) 353-0970 or 0974; fax: (575) 353-5216).
Other Contact Information
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Main Switchboard: 202-647-4000 (http://www.state.gov)
U.S. Department of Commerce, Trade Information Center, International Trade Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue
Washington, DC 20230
(tel: 800-USA-TRADE, Internet: http://www.ita.doc.gov)
Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce
Calle 98, @2264, Oficina 1209
Apartado Aereo 8008
(tel: (571) 621-5042/7925/6838, fax: (571) 612-6838, email: email@example.com) Chapters in Cali, Cartagena, Medell�n.