Drugs and Conflict in Colombia: A Policy Framework Analysis of Plan Colombia
Preston IV, Charles Putnam
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Drug cultivation and trafficking combine with a complex civil war that endangers the internal security of Colombia and the legitimacy of the Colombian government. The geo-narcotics problem centered in Colombia adversely impacts not only the social and economic situation in Colombia, but also the regional stability of the entire Andean region and Latin America. The influence of drug trafficking extends throughout South America and the Caribbean into the United States and Europe. Past policies to address the instability in Colombia failed to produce significant results. Plan Colombia, a joint initiative of the Colombian and the US governments, was developed in response to a deteriorating situation in Colombia. A public policy of the Colombian government, funding for Plan Colombia is provided as a high priority of United States foreign policy. Plan Colombia is the foundation for implementation of a broad range of programs addressing security, drug production and trafficking, the peace process, social development, economic development and democratization. From a US policy perspective, Plan Colombia seeks to curb drug trafficking at its production sources and promote stability in Colombia. This paper evaluates Plan Colombia using the policy analysis framework presented by James Anderson (2000) in Public Policymaking. Anderson's framework entails systematically examining public policy using a five-stage process that includes identification, formulation, adoption, implementation, and evaluation. I focus on the evaluation of five broad goals found in Plan Colombia; these goals encompass the programs listed above. This paper concludes that progress has been made towards achieving four of the five goals of Plan Colombia. Improvements in illicit drug production, government legitimacy and control, and the economy have been significant. Progress toward democratization and social development is less dramatic, but still evident. The peace process is the only goal lacking significant progress. The results from a US perspective are mixed: while the Colombian government has been stabilized, it is not clear that there has been a reduction in the flow of illicit substances. Future research should consider prioritization of the objectives of Plan Colombia and long-term versus short-term policy outcomes. Security aspects and social development are both priorities of Plan Colombia that at times can be seen in opposition to one another; the appropriate balance of support provided to each requires further analysis.
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