Colombia and US announce new anti-drug trafficking plan

BOGOTA: The US and Colombia on Monday announced the launch of a new joint plan to combat drug trafficking, including investments in areas affected by violence.

Colombian President Ivan Duque and US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien made the joint statement at the presidential palace in Bogota, following a meeting.

They did not specify the exact amount of resources allocated to the plan.

O’Brien said the US “will support all of Colombia’s efforts … to ensure security in the country, to combat criminal organisations, some of which are transnational, and in doing so, we will help create the conditions for economic growth” in both nations.

Duque added that the US government “has not only seen the importance of … continuing to effectively combat drug trafficking and terrorism,” but also of “combining those efforts … with quality investment in places that have been affected by violence”.

They both presented the initiative as a new phase of the “Plan Colombia,” an aid package from Washington aimed at combating drug trafficking in the South American country.

The US gave Colombia more than US$7 billion between 2000 and 2016 under the Plan Colombia agreement, but the money ended up being used to fight guerrillas without eliminating the drug trade.

The announcement comes amid a spike in violence throughout Colombia, resulting in 33 massacres so far this year, according to the UN.

The UN believes that criminal gangs are responsible for nearly 80% of massacres in Colombia this year, the vast majority of them occurring in departments with “illegal coca-producing enclaves”.