Plan Colombia was touted as a success by US lawmakers. However, despite billions spent to fight the war on drugs at its origin, there has been little to no change in total cocaine exported from Colombia. Additionally, the aerial fumigation of coca crops had caused irreparable environmental damage, economically and politically marginalized an already vulnerable population of campesinos (peasants), and escalated the war with the guerrilla. It was only years after Plan Colombia and the Uribe administration in 2012 that the current peace process with the largest guerrilla organization, the FARC, began.
The catalyst of the agreed upon talks was not Colombian militarization and marginalization of leftist groups, but rather a series of land reforms, political participation, and services provided to the marginalized rural poor in Colombia. In good faith to the 2016 Peace Accords signed between the FARC and the Colombian government, the FARC have disarmed and have transformed from an armed group to a political party. This is a direct result of a change in strategy by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his administration. After over a half-century of war, they concluded the guerrilla could not be defeated militarily. Only by acknowledging the guerrilla cause, motivations, and grievances, could they begin to carve out the conditions for a negotiated peace.
(photo cred: Tanner Semmelrock)