Updated 03:52 PM EST, Thu, Nov 26, 2020

President Manuel Santos to Ask the US for Billions to Continue Controversial ‘Plan Colombia’ Program

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will head to the United States this week to ask for billions of dollars to continue the controversial Plan Colombia program.

The president's visit will also commemorate the 15th anniversary of the U.S.-funded military program, a multimillion-dollar anti-narcotics and counterinsurgency initiative, teleSUR reported. With Plan Colombia, millions of dollars were sent to the South American country to combat the drug trade and left-wing guerillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC.

Later this week, Santos will ask the U.S. Congress for a total of $5 billion, which is $500 million each year for up to 10 years, teleSUR wrote. Details of the initiative, which has been called Plan Colombia 2.0, have not yet been released. The plan is to use the money to fund a post-conflict peace agenda once the Colombian government and the FARC sign a final peace accord. Their self-imposed deadline is set on March 23.

The original Plan Colombia deal was signed in 2000 by then U.S. President Bill Clinton and his Colombian counterpart, Andres Pastrana, the news outlet noted. Since then, the U.S. has provided over $10 billion in military aid to Colombia. In recent years, however, Colombia has only been receiving around $300 million annually from the U.S.

Human rights monitors claim that the program only provoked the country's militarization, which sparked violence and human rights abuses, teleSUR further reported. Colombia's Victims Unit said that the number of victims of the country's five-decade long civil war exceeded 7 million this year. The figure also involved those who have been killed, disappeared, or displaced since 1956.

The group added that "the majority of victimization occurred after 2000, peaking in 2002 at 744,799 victims," only two years after Plan Colombia was signed, the news outlet noted. Leaders, meanwhile, consider the deal as a major success story for U.S. foreign policy, saying that the program resulted in the destruction of coca crops and allowed Colombia's government to reclaim control of the countryside.

The money for Plan Colombia 2.0 is also intended for the payment of regional development projects, which the first initiative failed to achieve, teleSUR reported. The plan would also assist in the demobilization and reintegration of around 7,000 guerilla fighters into civilian life.

In addition, Santos will update the Congress on the peace negotiations with FARC, teleSUR wrote. The Colombian leader stressed out that he is not traveling to the U.S. just to ask for financial backing, but rather to thank the U.S. for its support over the past years.

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