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(PDF, 3.78 MB) A Compass for Colombia Policy

(PDF, 3.95 MB) Un nuevo rumbo para la política estadounidense hacia Colombia

It took a couple of months for four organizations to coordinate, edit, build consensus, and incorporate the input of many other extremely helpful outside reviewers. 32 pages later, though, CIP is very proud to be one of the organizations today launching “A Compass for Colombia Policy.”

This new document is a detailed, carefully crafted and forward-looking set of recommendations that we offer for the next U.S. administration and Congress. We felt a great need to get these principles and suggestions down on paper, especially at this critical time for U.S. policy toward Colombia and the world.

Please read it and share it: (English PDF, 3.78 MB) | (PDF en español, 3.95 MB).

Below is the release that the Center for International Policy, the Latin America Working Group Education Fund, the Washington Office on Latin America, and the U.S. Office on Colombia are putting out today.

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For immediate release

October 22, 2008

New Report Outlines a Just and Effective Foreign Policy toward Colombia

During their final presidential debate, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain expressed markedly different opinions on U.S. policy toward Colombia, an important partner in Latin America. Yet the next U.S. president won’t just be debating policy, he will be making it—and in the case of Colombia, he will need more than minor changes along the margins.  He will need a new approach.

The Compass for Colombia Policy, written by some of Washington’s top Colombia experts, offers a better way forward for one of the main foreign policy challenges that the next administration will face.  This report makes a detailed, persuasive case for a new U.S. strategy that would achieve our current policy goals while ending impunity and strengthening respect for human rights. Instead of risking all by placing too much faith in a single, charismatic leader, the United States must appeal to the aspirations and needs of all Colombians by strengthening democratic institutions, such as the judiciary.  In particular, the United States must stand by and empower the human rights advocates, victims, judges, prosecutors, union leaders, journalists and others who are the driving forces towards a more just and peaceful Colombia.

The Compass details seven sensible steps policymakers can take to create a just and effective Colombia policy.

1.  Use U.S. Aid and Leverage for Human Rights and the Rule of Law

To address a human rights crisis that continues unabated and a chronic lack of political will to deal with it, the United States must use tougher diplomacy to encourage the Colombian government to strengthen human rights guarantees, protect human rights defenders, and bolster institutions needed to break with a history of impunity for abuses. Colombia’s judicial system is central to the rule of law and must receive strong support.

2.  Actively Support Overtures for Peace

The United States cannot continue to bankroll a war without end and, as the civilian population in the countryside continues to endure immense suffering, should make peace a priority.

3.  Support Expansion of the Government’s Civilian Presence in the Countryside

Militarily occupying territory is not the solution to Colombia’s problems. The United States should help Colombia strengthen its civilian government presence in rural zones to address lawlessness, poverty and inequality, the roots of the conflict.  

4. Protect the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees

The United States can help resolve Colombia’s massive humanitarian crisis by insisting on the dismantlement of paramilitary structures, supporting Colombia’s Constitutional Court rulings on IDPs, and increasing and improving aid to IDPs and refugees. 

5. Protect the Rights of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Communities

The United States must pay special attention to promoting ethnic minorities’ land rights and guarantee that U.S. aid projects are not carried out on land obtained by violence.  

6. Ensure that Trade Policy Supports, Not Undermines, Policy Goals towards Colombia

The United States should insist upon labor rights advances, especially in reducing and prosecuting violence against trade unionists, prior to further consideration of the trade agreement.  The United States must ensure that any trade agreement will not undermine U.S. policy goals, such as reducing farmers’ dependence on coca and ending the conflict.

7. Get Serious—and Smart—about Drug Policy

The United States is overdue for a major course correction in its drug control strategy, which has failed spectacularly in Colombia and the Andean region.  The United States should end the inhumane and counterproductive aerial spraying program and invest seriously in rural development, including alternative development designed with affected communities.   Drug enforcement should focus higher up on the distribution chain, disrupt money laundering schemes and apprehend violent traffickers.  Access to high-quality drug treatment in the United States, which will cut demand, must be the centerpiece of U.S. drug policy.

“The next administration should use diplomatic pressure to hold Colombia to much higher standards on human rights, labor rights, and protection of the rule of law.”–Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group Education Fund

“The United States must recognize the magnitude of the human rights crisis for Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities in Colombia, in which hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lands and livelihoods to violence.” –Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Washington Office on Latin America

“Nine years after the launch of Plan Colombia, the production of cocaine remains virtually unchanged.  The United States simply cannot afford to continue to pursue this costly and failed counternarcotics policy.  The next President must change course.”  –Adam Isacson, Center for International Policy

“In the last decade, Colombia’s conflict has taken 20,000 more lives and displaced more than 2 million citizens.  Now is the time to make renewed efforts for peace.”  –Kelly Nicholls, U.S. Office on Colombia

For more information:
Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group Education Fund, (202) 546-7010; lisah [at] lawg.org
Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli, Washington Office on Latin America, (202) 797-2171; gsanchez [at] wola.org
Adam Isacson, Center for International Policy, (202) 232-3317; isacson [at] ciponline.org
Kelly Nicholls, US Office on Colombia, (202) 232-8090; kelly [at] usofficeoncolombia.org

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26 Responses to “Launch: “A Compass for Colombia Policy””

  1. Santiago Garcia Says:

    “The United States should support the involvement of mediators and interlocutors who can facilitate communication between the warring parties and lay the groundwork for eventual face-to-face dialogue. The United States should be open to a role for leftist leaders like Hugo Chávez[...]”

    Ah yes, because bringing in Chávez worked so exceedingly well the last time.

  2. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Drug Policiy. The next President must change course. I would not have hesitated to suggest “LEGALIZE THE DAMN DRUGS”.

  3. Edwin Devers Says:

    I am from Belgiun and a resident in Colombia. Only to discuss point 3: “Militarily occupying territory ” -> The forces are not occupuying the country as the americans do in Irak and other countries but they are representing the State.

    I am fed up with people like you. I can imagine that you are receiving money from leftists groups as the FARC,

  4. For a better Colombia Says:

    The phrase “written by Washington’s top Colombia experts” is an interesting way to characterize the contributors to this report. Never have I seen such a like-minded group as these be considered top Colombian experts. Absent are other “Colombian experts” from government, business groups or how about the views of regular Colombians who support the present Colombian govt like no other in Latin America and have seen their own sense of security increase tremendously over the last several years. Even in the countryside campesinos recognize the improvement in security. Sure, current policy needs to be tweaked, especially the USG approach to eradication, and something needs to be done about economic inequality (like in every other developing country in the world), but for a wholesale change in a policy that has seen virtually all major social indicators improve – I’m not sure how that would be best for all Colombians.

  5. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Erdwing you probably caught the paramilitary fever there! :lol:

  6. Randy Paul Says:

    I can imagine that you are receiving money from leftists groups as the FARC,

    Edwin Devers, if you have proof then you should present it. If not, then you are libeling the host of this blog.

    Do you enter other people’s residences and defecate on the floor?

  7. Edwin Devers Says:

    Ok,

    First Jaime,

    What me makes angry is that everybody speaks about the paramilitary and that the FARC are saints. I am in Colombia since 1997 and I am not going to defend the paramilitary but why doesn’t the FARC enter their weapons, form a political party and defend their ideas?

    Second Randy,

    Do you have proofs that the Colombian forces OCCUPY the colombian territory??? and if you publicize an article everybody has the right to react on it. The ghost of this blog is NOT objective.

  8. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Look Edwin don’t come here trying to pass off as another person. You are a colombian government shill. Belgians would not come here talking nonsense like you do, not to mention the crude manners you show. As for any explaination you can as well try somebody else, I am not buying.

  9. Montserrat Nicolas Says:

    OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    I didn’t know cipcol got some extra cash laying around from some leftist junta. Can I have some? Pretty please??? President Bush sooo didn’t bail me out this time. Sort of short on the green ones.

    Thanks,

  10. Kyle Says:

    Wow, the comments here are shocking at first.
    Apparently Edwin has been living in Colombia but has missed the 3 anti-FARC marches that have happened since July of last year (just to give an example – nevermind the fact that Uribe y co. blame the FARC for most everything it seems). I can understand missing the marches because, at least, hundreds of thousands of people wearing white and marching down the main streets in Bogota and countless other cities throughout the country is hard to notice. Secondly, Edwin must be new to the blog (or just has ignored other posts) as he seems to have missed to countless posts here that have denounced the FARC and their brutal tactics. Lastly, I wonder what status Adam would be given for a slander case: Public figure, temporary public figure or just regular folk. I will say Edwin, if you make such an accusation, you could have some evidence for it. Just because you are angry doesn’t mean you can say things like CIP (or any person) receives money from the FARC. And “everybody” says the FARC are “saints”? Good hyperbole.
    Also to answer your question to why the FARC don’t lay down their arms and make a political party? One answer: Union Patriotica. (I’ll ignore the numerous other variables regarding peace processes and just put, what I argue, could be one of two proximate variables.)
    Secondly, you are forgetting that the word “occupy” has multiple meanings than the one associated with an international conflict caused by an invasion. But also, occupy, in the sense you are thinking, is not necessarily incorrect as well. There are times where military operations, often sweeps, go through a town for a period of time and then leave, having effectively occupied the territory for the period of time they were present. Had they stayed permanently, occupying (in your definition) would be questionable. But again, it does mean more than just your singular definition.
    You are correct that everyone has the right to react to a blog, not going to disagree Edwin. But at least have some evidence before making such a damning statement. Also, who is the “ghost”? Adam? Adam Isaacson for the Center for International Policy Colombia program? Is he a ghost now? What happened?!!!
    Jaime, for your accusations, you have no evidence other than a hunch it seems.
    I shall read the report sometime (damn college!) and comment again hopefully soon. I would add with the critique of choosing Chavez is founded in my mind. Perhaps someone else would do (Uribe will not pick Chavez again): Lula maybe?

  11. Randy Paul Says:

    Do you have proofs that the Colombian forces OCCUPY the colombian territory???

    That’s not the question. You accused the person who runs this blog of receiving money from a terrorist organization. Prove it. If not, take it bakc, be an adult and apologize.

  12. Randy Paul Says:

    Moreover, if you do live in Colombia, then you should know that those who get accused of being allied with the FARC or having sympathies with the FARC can endanger their lives. Ratchet down the rhetoric a bit for safety’s sake.

  13. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Randy, cool down. The jurisdiction of paramilitaries, amounts to the Colombian territory, not much they can say or do in the United States where Adam laboriously works for human rights.

  14. Randy Paul Says:

    Jaime,

    True but bear in mind that Adam does visit Colombia regularly.

  15. Montserrat Nicolas Says:

    Grrrr. No answer on my simple request for some leftist cash. Hmmm…makes one wonder…wouldn’t it be easier if the US just bought Colombia? Obviously it’s on sale. And put Uribe in some kind of management position at the Nat Parks here. I mean, he likes the jungle quite a bit.

    saludos

  16. Edwin Devers Says:

    Ok kyle I am new to the blog that is true. i was only reading your comment tonight so i am going to answer you tomorrow. BUT for everybody I don’t present the Colombian GOVERNMENT only MYSELF and it is the first time I express my ideas in a blog. Only one question whom of you have lived or visited Colombia????

  17. Montserrat Nicolas Says:

    I have. Lovely place.
    best and welcome to the blogsphere!

  18. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Adam, just finished reading the report. Few things that occurred to me:

    1- It’s a pity that a group of scholars in the US have more knowledge about colombia’s problems than colombian leaders themselves.
    2-Iguaran is not competent; on the contrary several reports on the news make one think he is part of the problem, only a double player.
    3-Lots of good wishes are heralded in the report, but It fails to analyze the factor of multinationals (Monsato, Weapon makers) that can also elicit money to bolster their own interests, in the opposite direction.
    4-Fails to analyze the relegalization of drugs, policy that is the crux of violence worldwide nowadays.
    5-All in all is a good effort to create conscience into the minds of the leaders of first world countries.

  19. Kyle Says:

    I have visited Colombia multiple times, including some of the conflictive zones as well. Most recently, I was there this summer for 2 1/2 months.
    My point for you being new to the blog is that if you had read more of it, you would see the numerous denunciations of the FARC’s brutal methods and would be less likely to make a statement like that. I like more people coming in to the blog, but your comment was borderline slanderous.
    I also said that you don’t represent the Colombian government later in my post, so no worries for me there.

  20. Edwin Devers Says:

    Hi everybody
    let me give some comments about Kyle’s yesterday’s intervention:

    1. “Apparently Edwin has been living in Colombia but has missed the 3 anti-FARC marches that have happened since July of last year (just to give an example – nevermind the fact that Uribe y co. blame the FARC for most everything it seems). I can understand missing the marches because, at least, hundreds of thousands of people wearing white and marching down the main streets in Bogota and countless other cities throughout the country is hard to notice”

    I have seen the marches and I heard Ingrid Betancours’s speech in Spain today but i don’t think that the FARC is going to enter their arms because they don’t have anymore feelings with the Colombian people.

    2. “Secondly, Edwin must be new to the blog (or just has ignored other posts) as he seems to have missed to countless posts here that have denounced the FARC and their brutal tactics”

    I am new to the blog as I told you yesterday.

    3. “Lastly, I wonder what status Adam would be given for a slander case: Public figure, temporary public figure or just regular folk. I will say Edwin, if you make such an accusation, you could have some evidence for it. Just because you are angry doesn’t mean you can say things like CIP (or any person) receives money from the FARC. And “everybody” says the FARC are “saints”? Good hyperbole.”

    Look maybe it was wrong to relation the CIP with the FARC but I am pretty sure that some organizatiions are subsidized by the FARC. Isn’t it only since Ingrid Betanxourt’s liberation that some countries start to understand that “THE FARC DOESN’T HELP THE POOR PEOPLE IN COLOMBIA”. Didn’t the FARC talk directly with some french officials a couple of years ago? And another thing that I am wondering about is why Sarkuzi doesn’t want to help to liberate the other kidnapped people anymore? Or did he only want to win the elections???

    4 “Also to answer your question to why the FARC don’t lay down their arms and make a political party? One answer: Union Patriotica.”

    “The Patriotic Union or UP (In Spanish, Unión Patriótica), was a leftist Colombian political party founded by the FARC in 1985, as part of the peace negotiations that the guerrillas held with the Conservative Belisario Betancur administration. The party was subject to political violence from druglords, paramilitaries and rogue military agents during the mid-1980s, leading to its eventual decline and virtual disappearance. ”
    Source: Wikipedia

    Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the french writer who said a couple of months ago that the FARC was always looking back in history. So what is then the solution? The FARC don’t want to speak with this president and what is more they didn¡t want to speak with Pastrana the previous president who gave them a part of the Colombian territory as big as Switzerland to start the negotiations. I remember the day that Pastrana was sitting alone on a table waiting for the arrival of Tiro Fijo who didn’t come because he was afraid of his security. I believe in democracy and freedom of speech. And the reason the FARC doesn’t want to form a party is because that noboy is going to vote for criminals. I am defending here in Colombia for years that the cleanest (if possible) people of the FARC and the paramilitary have to found parties and if the colombian people want to vote for them no problem let’s have Cano as president. But don’t let the colombian people suffer,

    I think that neither the paramilitary neither the FARC represent Colombia because Colombia is a democracy and those people weren’t elected. The paramilitary have more or less entered their arms but the FARC doen’t want. I am totally against new negotations with the FARC. (Remember Paatrana). They have to enter their arms under the same conditions as the paramilitary and that is what president Uribe declared and is declaring.

    Ok guys give me some more comments please.

  21. Montserrat Nicolas Says:

    French writer???!!!

  22. Will Says:

    Mont,

    I think Edwin is referring to Daniel Pecaut.

    -Will

  23. robert jereski Says:

    i. is demilitarization of paramilitaries truly a success?

    ii. what is the FARC’s position on IDPs? Or the govt.’s position? Is not 4 million IDPs not a sign of continued serious and systematic instability and insecurity? So much for the human rights miracle under Plan Colombia.

  24. robert jereski Says:

    “Edwin Devers”:

    ‘I think that neither the paramilitary neither the FARC represent Colombia because Colombia is a democracy and those people weren’t elected.’

    ah democracy… And none of the Colombia experts monitoring plan colombia for human rights abuses (what happened to those labor activists???) speak up on this listserve!?

    Clear that inside-the-beltway p.r. has infected their analysis and ACTIONS.

    Here’s a recent biopsy of Colombian democracy after 8 years of ‘aid’ from the U.S.

    Colombia’s intelligence chief steps down
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ac7ba574-a174-11dd-82fd-000077b07658.html

    Colombia’s intelligence chief has stepped down after acknowledging her agents secretly spied on left-wing political opponents of President Alvaro Uribe, in the latest surveillance scandal to tarnish his administration.

    Maria del Pilar Hurtado, DAS security agency director, resigned after a leading opposition lawmaker charged this week that officers had illegally kept tabs on members of his Democratic Pole party, the government said on Thursday.

    Mr Uribe last year fired his top police chiefs after an illegal wiretapping scandal that fueled worries about intelligence practices in Colombia, where Washington has spent billions in aid to help fight guerrillas and cocaine barons.

    “The country still can and should count on the DAS; it would not be fair for the work of hundreds of agents to be stained by the actions of a few,” Ms Hurtado said in a statement.

    She will be temporarily replaced by Joaquin Polo, the deputy director, the government said.

    Senator Gustavo Petro, one of Mr Uribe’s most vocal critics, said DAS agents had been monitoring him and other party members on the president’s orders. Ms Hurtado said she ordered no such surveillance, but fired an agent involved before resigning.

    The DAS has been at the center of scandals in the past. Mr Uribe’s former security chief, Jorge Noguera, is under investigation on suspicion he helped paramilitary death squads hunt down victims. He was jailed, then freed on a technicality.

    Mr Uribe, hugely popular for his US-financed crackdown on the country’s guerrillas, last year replaced his national police commander and police intelligence chief after they admitted they had no knowledge of the wiretapping of state officials, opposition leaders and journalists over the years.

    That scandal broke when a local news magazine published a story about recorded conversations of jailed paramilitaries apparently organizing crimes from their prison cells.

    Scores of Mr Uribe’s political allies have been jailed or are under investigation for suspected ties to paramilitary commanders who carried out massacres and land grabs in the name of counter-insurgency before agreeing to a peace accord.

  25. Camilla Says:

    I was under the impression Colombia was a sovereign state, and a democracy at that. Colombia can tell the US that either it helps out on the drug war or they let drugs flow free and the Americans can clean up the mess in the US, however they’d like to do it. I don’t see these coercive
    ‘recommendations’ as a legitimate way of pressuring Colombia to do things the way the left likes. Shouldn’t Colombian citizens have a say in how they’d like to be governed in their own country?

    This is nothing but sandalistadom in a pith helmet.

  26. Hope & change in ‘09 « Todos Somos Geckos Says:

    [...] of the Colombia Steering Committee, three dozen US NGOs committed to a just Colombia policy — launched A Compass for Colombia Policy. PDF Everyone reading this probably understands how rare it is for [...]

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