Although Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s means of persuading the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to release hostages has proven grossly unsuccessful, it appears that he will continue to use this failed strategy as a tool to pressure the guerilla leadership to release some of its high-silhouette abducted political prisoners. In “Colombian Rebels Reject Government Plan to Release Hundreds of Jailed Guerrillas” (June 3, 2007), your Tony Muse reports on the difficulties faced by Uribe in his attempts to reach an agreement with the FARC. However, some attention should have been awarded to whether a trade pact will be reached between the U.S. and Colombia. If such a pact fails to be consummated, the continuation and usefulness of Plan Colombia, the Bush administration’s primary vehicle for funding anti-guerilla violence in Colombia, would need to be reevaluated.
Equally important, the question of Uribe’s recent accusations of being associated with outlawed paramilitary groups must be further addressed. The question of whether or not he should continue receiving aid from U.S. Plan Colombia will play a large role in his ability to continue war relief efforts for his people. Colombia has received over $4 billion from the U.S., 80% of which has turned out to be military aid. Yet, money is not buying results, as scandals show a longstanding conspiracy in Colombia. Should U.S. funding of Colombia persist, it is important that the U.S. pay closer attention to its use. Original motives for Plan Colombia have never been attained, and therefore must be reevaluated. U.S. investment could be beneficial for Colombia if economic rather than military aid was emphasized.