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Diplomacy in Action

Summary of a Report to Congress on United States Policy Towards Colombia and Other Related Issues

February 3, 2003


Read the full report 
February 03, 2003

This report compiled by the Department of State for the U.S. Congress provides information on U.S. policy objectives in Colombia, including measurements for determining progress on our policy, expected reduction in cocaine/heroin entering the U.S. and U.S. Armed Forces as well as civilian contractor personnel mission and objectives, as requested by the Managers in House Conference Report 107-593. The Department of State sent the report to Congress on December 3, 2002.

Section 1: U.S. policy towards Colombia and the objectives of that policy, expected financial costs and time schedule. U.S. policy is to support the Colombian Government's efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions, promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, foster socio-economic development and address immediate humanitarian needs, and end the threats to democracy posed by narcotics trafficking and terrorism.

Before reviewing policy objectives, the report explains Colombia's importance to the United States, the challenges it faces and its response to those challenges.

The report describes how the Government of Colombia (GOC), under President Uribe's instructions is completing a broad national security strategy which includes commitments to respect human rights, dedicate more resources to the Colombian Armed Forces, intensify counternarcotics efforts and reform the conscription laws to make military service universal and fairer.

To help Colombia achieve these aims, U.S. objectives include programs that will:

  • Continue assistance to combat illicit drugs and terrorism, defend human rights, promote economic, social and alternative development initiatives, reform and strengthen the administration of justice, and assist the internally displaced;
  • Increase institutional development, professionalization, and enlargement of Colombian security forces;
  • Substantially reduce the production and trafficking of cocaine and heroin from Colombia by strengthening counter-narcotics programs;
  • Enhance counter-terrorism capability by providing advice, assistance, training and equipment, and intelligence support; and
  • Promote growth and development through support for market-based policies and implementation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) as well as the Andean Trade Program and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA).
    The report also states that although much remains to be accomplished, U.S. assistance to "Plan Colombia" has resulted in substantial progress to date and provides a comprehensive review of those achievements. It also emphasizes that human rights concerns continue to be a central element in our Colombia policy.

    In addressing expected financial costs, the report describes funds already appropriated by Congress and our FY 2003 request. Additionally, the report points to long-existing nature of the conflict and the necessity for U.S. financial support to help Colombia meet its objectives, emphasizing that this is a long-term commitment. Extensive details are provided on the early efforts of the Uribe Administration to increase the resources it makes available, especially for the security forces, as well as contributions by the international community.

    Section 2: Specific benchmarks for measuring progress. In broad terms, the success of our programs will be measured by improvements in all areas of Colombian life and reduction in illegal drug cultivation and terrorism. Among the specific benchmarks provided are:

    --Substantially reduced coca and poppy cultivation and production and corresponding reductions in the financial benefits this provides terrorist groups.
    --Significant increases in the resources (financial and manpower) the GOC devotes to its security forces.
    --Continued progress by the Colombian Armed Forces to protect human rights, end military-paramilitary collusion, and reduce overall number of violent civilian deaths.
    --Expansion of alternative development programs in areas northwest of Putumayo to increase licit employment and income opportunities.
    --Strengthened civilian criminal justice system jurisdiction over military personnel accused of human rights violations.
    --Significant reduction of illegal arms shipments to and from Colombia.
    --Improved efficiency, agility, and reach for Colombia's criminal justice system.

    Section 3: The expected reduction, if any, in the amount of cocaine and heroin entering the United States. If present programs are sustained, the report states that Plan Colombia's original goals of reducing coca cultivation in Colombia by 50% by the end of 2005 can be met or surpassed. President Uribe's commitment is demonstrated by his call for total eradication of coca by the end of his term of office in 2006. While predictions are difficult, the implications for cocaine and heroine imports into the United States and reduction in profits available to designated terrorist organizations could then be dramatic.

    Section 4: The mission and objectives of U.S. Armed Forces personnel and civilian contractors in Colombia and the threats to their safety. U.S. military personnel and U.S. individual civilian contractors in Colombia are undertaking activities to implement specific aspects of the programs described in the report. The report describes the programs they are engaged in and the risks they face. The dangers are well understood by the U.S. Government and by the individuals themselves.

    The report highlights that we have been fortunate to date, but that losses as a result of our engagement in Colombia cannot be precluded. Casualties could occur as the result of a direct attack by narcotics trafficking or terrorist organizations or as the result of violence not specifically aimed at U.S. personnel.

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