As the closest and most reliable ally of the United States in Latin America, Colombia is looking to upgrade the status of its relationship with Washington. After 15 years of strengthening relations, centred around combatting terrorism and fighting cocaine production, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos wants to go from being the recipient of military aid via Plan Colombia to the US being a partner in the Peace Colombia initiative, the new scheme proposed by Santos to accompany the ongoing peace process with the guerillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It is hoped the the peace agreement will be signed imminently. However, as the main concern which brought the United States into Colombia was drug-trafficking, despite the declared intention of the Barack Obama administration to reinforce bilateral relations, there looks to be a bumpy road ahead for President Santos’ effort to persuade Washington that Peace Colombia is an indispensable initiative that the US should fully support.
When US and Colombian presidents Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002) first signed Plan Colombia, the South American country was gripped in a state of crisis triggered by the growing influence of drug-cartels and the threat the FARC guerillas presented to the survival of democracy and political stability. The US promised to help fund the Colombian government’s determination to curtail coca production and reduce illegal cocaine exports. As the FARC were suspected of being increasingly involved in the illegal cocaine trade, combatting the revolutionary guerrilla group and the druglords was part of the same plan.
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