The Government Accountability Office (GAO, the U.S. government’s comptroller, part of the legislative branch) has just released a 100-plus-page report evaluating the performance of U.S. aid to Colombia since “Plan Colombia” began. It is the product of research begun more than a year ago at the request of Foreign Relations Committee Chairman (and now, Vice-President-Elect) Sen. Joseph Biden.From the summary:
- Plan Colombia’s goal of reducing the cultivation, processing, and distribution of illegal narcotics by 50 percent in 6 years was not fully achieved.
- Colombia has improved its security climate through systematic military and police engagements with illegal armed groups and by degrading these groups’ finances.
- Since fiscal year 2000, State and Defense provided nearly $4.9 billion to the Colombian military and National Police. Notably, over 130 U.S.-funded helicopters have provided the air mobility needed to rapidly move Colombian counternarcotics and counterinsurgency forces.
- Alternative development is not provided in most areas where coca is cultivated and USAID does not assess how such programs relate to its strategic goals of reducing the production of illicit drugs or achieving sustainable results.
- In response to congressional direction in 2005 and budget cuts in fiscal year 2008, State and the other U.S. departments and agencies have accelerated their nationalization [turning responsibilities over to Colombia] efforts, with State focusing on Colombian military and National Police aviation programs.