Washington, D.C.—Today, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama to promote the peace process, mark the 15th anniversary of the assistance package known as Plan Colombia, and discuss the potential for new aid to meet Colombia’s post-conflict needs. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) will be closely following the visit, in which President Obama is expected to ask Congress for an expanded aid package to Colombia.
"This is a historic moment for Colombia, with an end to 52 years of armed conflict in sight. The Obama administration and Congress need to come together and be just as generous in peacetime as they were in wartime," said Adam Isacson, WOLA Senior Associate for Regional Security. "U.S. officials are talking about a "Plan Colombia 2.0" with a big focus on rural development, justice, human rights, and support for excluded communities. This is the right way to go: it's what didn't get enough resources from Plan Colombia 1.0, which achieved only mixed results after 15 years."
As WOLA has noted in an interactive data presentation, Plan Colombia was accompanied by grave human rights abuses on the ground since its start in 2000. One of the most infamous examples is the “false positives” scandal, in which thousands of Colombian civilians were killed or forcibly disappeared between 2002 and 2008, often to boost body counts by falsely presenting them as armed-group members killed in combat.
Obama administration officials have said that new aid to the country will be used to address some of Colombia’s biggest post-conflict challenges, including threats against human rights defenders and the historic exclusion of indigenous and Afro-Colombians.
“The issues faced by Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, which account for a disproportionate share of conflict victims and the displaced population, won’t go away overnight. They need to be fully integrated in this process to guarantee peace on the ground,” said WOLA Senior Associate for the Andes Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli.