Plan Colombia is not a model to be replicated

Have you heard of Plan Colombia? It was a foreign assistance plan crafted by the U.S. government to combat drug production fueling Colombia’s on-going armed conflict. It also involved billions of dollars in military and police aid.

Recently, Vice President Biden has been promoting Plan Colombia (that he helped craft in the Senate) as a successful model to be replicated in Central America. His rhetoric caught on, and many lawmakers are looking to the past experience of Colombia as they make plans for intervention in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, often referred to as the Northern Triangle.

The main thrust of the proposed $1 billion aid package to these three countries is to address root causes of migration that drive people to leave their homes and migrate North. The truth is there are a host of problems, like economic inequality, gang violence, and insecurity that compel people to flee.

The reality is that Plan Colombia was implemented in a drastically different environment than what the Northern Triangle countries face today. MCC partners in Colombia have told us about the negative effects of Plan Colombia in their churches and communities. They agree that this type of intervention is nothing they would wish on their Central American neighbors.

It’s not a pretty picture…but we made a picture to help explain it: A Plan for Central America

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