U.S.-Colombia Security Partnership
For decades, Colombia and the United States have worked together to combat the trafficking of illegal drugs. During the 1980s and 1990s the two nations successfully combined forces to disrupt the illegal drug trade and the violence that stemmed from it. As a result, the Medellín and Cali cartels were dismantled and hundreds of Colombian citizens ended up extradited and serving harsh sentences in U.S. prisons.
In 2000, an ambitious cooperation program aimed at combating drug trafficking, strengthening institutions and promoting peace known as Plan Colombia was launched. After more than a decade the results are outstanding.
By the end of 2011, homicides in Colombia were the lowest in 26 years.
Kidnappings have gone down 90 percent from their peak in 2002. Terrorist acts have declined by 69 percent over the same period.
In terms of drug trafficking, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2011 report, since 2007 the reduction in global coca cultivation has been driven by signifiant decreases in Colombia.
From every perspective, Plan Colombia has been a joint success. More than the resources involved, the unified campaign implemented by both countries has resulted in a common sense of victory and a deeper strategic relationship both now and in the future. Today, Colombia has a more professional military and police, a more capable public sector and stronger democratic institutions. What began as a donor-recipient relation has evolved over the last 10 years to a more balanced alliance between strategic partners.
Plan Colombia has been a critical component in regaining territorial control, effectively combating terrorism and drug trafficking and strengthening democratic institutions in Colombia. Because of the innovative strategies currently being employed, temporary gains made in the past have turned into a permanent trend.
One area where this new approach is having an important impact is Central America. Thanks to Colombia’s success in combating crime and establishing the rule of law throughout its territory, the nation is able to share its experience and technical expertise with other countries who are being threatened by transnational organized crime. Working hand in hand with the United States, the Colombian police and military have trained more than 11,000 police and military officers from Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama and Dominican Republic.
In this regard, the Colombia-U.S. Action Plan on Regional Security Cooperation announced by Presidents Santos and Obama in Cartagena on April 15, 2012, gives way to developing a coordinated and complementary approach toward both countries' cooperation in the hemisphere.
As we move toward the consolidation of this bilateral initiative, Colombia will continue to work as a force for good in the hemisphere and around the globe.