Friendly fire or foul play? From southern Colombia to northwest Washington
May 252006

Here is where Colombia’s four principal presidential candidates stand on Colombia’s relations with the United States, especially issues like Plan Colombia, drug policy, and free trade.

Álvaro Uribe, Primero Colombia

Drug policy: (September 24, 2002) “Colombia has to destroy narcotics. This is the only way for us to take terror away from our country. I have supported Plan Colombia, because this is the first time we go from rhetoric to practical procedures, to practical actions. However, when Plan Colombia was put in place, the goal was to destroy 50 percent of Colombia’s production of cocaine. Our goal is to destroy 100 percent. … We will not stop. We will spray and spray. We will intercept. We will seize. We will do all the best every day and every night to destroy narcotics in Colombia. … We have to maintain Plan Colombia and to expand it.”

Plan Colombia: (April 25, 2006) “We will maintain the international community’s support for the Democratic Security policy and the continuation of Plan Colombia.”
(September 15, 2005) “The results and the effort Colombia needs is what is called the second phase or consolidation phase of Plan Colombia.”

Free trade: (February 27, 2006) “Colombia is a noble brother in solidarity with Latin America and a loyal ally of the United Status. This treaty that we have now agreed with the United States, and which enters into the signing, ratification and constitutional revision phase, gives us access to the largest market in the world. Many formerly socialist countries, now capitalist, yearn to enter those markets. It is Colombia’s good fortune to be able to begin to access the U.S. market.”

Carlos Gaviria, Polo Democrático Alternativo

Relations with the United States: (April 9, 2006) “I’m not anti-United States. We should have very good relations. But that is different from alienating our sovereignty.”

Plan Colombia: (April 25, 2006) “I think that aid from foreign countries is welcome, especially when it is directed toward a country’s economic and social development. Plan Colombia has a strong military element and, from that perspective, it is undesirable.”
(April 9, 2006) “Semana magazine: And Plan Colombia?
Gaviria: It has a strongly military ingredient that helps intensify the war. I don’t like the presence of foreign troops in the country.”
Semana: Would you revise it or end it?
Gaviria: I would revise it, we’d figure out later how much to do so, but I would no doubt revise it.”

Drug policy: (May 22, 2006) “We are enemies of the fumigations that have done away with biodiversity while proving to be inept at eradicating drugs.”
(April 17, 2006) “In the short term there needs to be a substitution of illicit crops for legal, but profitable, crops. Colombia must begin to propose the need to discuss the decriminalization of drug distribution and consumption.”
(April 9, 2006) “Semana magazine: Would you maintain extradition?
Gaviria: It is a very useful instrument in the fight against globalized crime and against impunity, but Colombia’s extradition policy is not a serious one. … A serious policy would prioritize the national justice system when the crimes are committed here. We are extraditing anybody whom the United States requests, even though they may have committed their crimes in Colombia.”

Free trade: (April 9, 2006) “The idea of a free-trade agreement cannot be discarded, but the one that Colombia negotiated with the United States is not good for the country. President Uribe owes favors to Bush, and they are being paid back in the free-trade agreement.”

Horacio Serpa, Partido Liberal

Relations with the United States: (April 25, 2006) “We must modify the image Colombia has in the region of being subordinated to the United States.”

Plan Colombia: (2000) “The plan is a reality, it is a fact and it is going to happen.”

Drug policy: (April 17, 2006) “We must build consensus around an international strategy of co-responsibility, apply social criteria against cultivation (the cultivators of coca do not traffick coca), and come closer to debating decriminalization.”
(May 22, 2006) “We will gradually diminish the use of glyphosate; now, I know that this requires international consensus, and I will take the lead.”
(February 2, 2006) “Suspend aerial fumigations in national parks. We will come to agreement with communities on the eradication of illicit crops; only in exceptional, extreme cases will we authorize fumigation by aerial spraying, and when we do we will take necessary measures to mitigate its impact.”

Free trade: (March 8, 2006) “I don’t like this free-trade agreement that has been discussed with the United States because it isn’t really a free-trade agreement. The term ‘free trade’ can’t be used when it has internal aid and subsidies for U.S. agricultural products mixed in, when it maintains the protection of its sugar markets and other agricultural goods, as well as the other non-tariff barriers that impede access for our exports.”

Antanas Mockus, Alianza Social Indígena

Relations with the United States: (April 25, 2006) “I will maintain a good relationship with the United States.”

Drug Policy: (April 23, 2006) “We have to explore other scenarios: what would Colombians do if the narcotrafficking problem were entirely in their hands? Without narcotrafficking in Colombia, peace with the FARC could happen in less than four years. Many think that if it were not for U.S. pressure, we would all enrich ourselves with narcotrafficking. Today the equation is narcotrafficking against fumigtion, eradication, environmental impact. But that doesn’t matter to the United States.”
(April 17, 2006) “We have to discuss what we would do if the problem were entirely up to us, to exercise social pressure as a mechanism of partially subsituting technical and military actions, and to evaluate policies together with other countries.”
(April 23, 2006) “Without ignoring international agreements, we want to re-open the issue. That does not mean legalizing drugs. Anti-narcotics policy is being carried out without education, only with repression.”

Free trade: (Undated but recent press release from the Mockus campaign): “The candidate is convinced that the signing of the free-trade agreement is good for the country, but not just with the United States; ‘We must seek these kinds of agreements and consolidate economic relations with Venezuela, with MERCOSUR, with Europe and with the rest of the world in general.’”

3 Responses to “Colombia’s candidates and the United States”

  1. jcg Says:

    Nice work on presenting their main views.

    I guess you could say that Mockus is the more pragmatic one and Gaviria the more idealistic, as far as Colombia-U.S. relations are concerned.

    Serpa doesn’t really seem that convincing, and Uribe’s policies have some pretty self-evident flaws (though not everything he’s done qualifies as a flaw, I might add).

  2. Geraldo Rivera Says:

    Hi guys,

    This article really put me in the picture. For a solid overview check this report from the BBC:


  3. jcg Says:

    The BBC piece isn’t that bad, but there are a couple of errors: voting isn’t compulsory at all, the Colombian population is aprox. 41 million, and Carlos Gaviria isn’t an admirer of Hugo Chávez.

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