We now know that the Colombian government has begun to circulate a 77-page Spanish document called "Strategy of Strenghtening Democracy and Social Development (2007-2013)." This alone is a step forward from the 30-page document that presented the first "Plan Colombia" in September 1999, which was available in English for months before someone got around to translating it.
The "Strategy of Strengthening…" – whose title is so long that everyone is just going to call it "Plan Colombia 2" – calls for $43.8366 billion in new investment over the next six years. That money fits into six categories:
- Social: $20.6614 billion, 48%
- Economic internationalization (probably trade capacity-building): $12.0066 billion, 27%
- Fight against terrorism and narcotrafficking: $6.1724 billion, 14%
- Strengthening of justice and human rights: $2.7492 billion, 6%
- Attending to the displaced population: $1.2013 billion, 3%
- Reintegration (of ex-combatants): $1.0457 billion, 2%
That’s what we know – an overall six-year plan that would be only 14 percent military or police funding.
Before we view this as a sea change in Colombia’s approach to violence and narcotrafficking, let’s recall the makeup of the original Plan Colombia. While the U.S. contribution to Plan Colombia has been more than 80 percent military and police aid over the years, U.S. and Colombian officials always insisted that the overall six-year, $7.5 billion Plan Colombia – which was to include investment from the Colombian government and aid from other countries – was only a 25 percent military and police proposal.
Moving from 75 percent to 86 percent is not a dramatic change, though the overall increase in investment appears significant. Also significant is that the first "Plan Colombia," in practice, ended up becoming a mostly military endeavor. By 2006, according to the Colombian government, only 43 percent of Plan Colombia funds actually ended up going to non-military, non-police programs. Moving from 43 percent to 86 percent – if it actually happens – would an important change.
At this point, the answers we have heard only raise more questions, especially about the expected U.S. contribution.
- How much of this $43.8366 billion is expected to come from Colombian funds, and how much from foreign donors?
- Of this 86 percent economic-aid investment, how much is actually "civic action" construction projects and other military-led endeavors?
- How much is expected from the United States specifically?
- Of the money requested from the United States, is Colombia’s government expecting Washington to move away from the lopsided 80-20 split in military versus economic aid? Is Colombia asking, for instance, for a 50-50 package?
- Will this new plan, with new proportions between types of aid, be reflected in the Bush administration’s 2008 foreign aid budget request to Congress, which will be released Monday? (Watch this space and this space to find out.)
- Once we get more details, will the "new" plan look much different from the old plan, or is this a "shell game," using new categories to make a heavily military package palatable to a Democratic Congress?
Much will be revealed, starting Monday.