During the Pastrana administration, the United States responded to the Colombian Government's request for international support for Plan Colombia by providing substantial assistance designed to increase Colombia's counternarcotics capabilities, to expand and consolidate government presence, and to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable Colombians by providing sustainable social and economic opportunities, protecting human rights, strengthening rule of law, and making governance more transparent, participatory and accountable. The U.S. has continued close cooperation with Colombia under the Uribe Administration. Among Uribe's promises was to continue to pursue the broad goals of Plan Colombia within the framework of a long-term security strategy. In the fall of 2002, Uribe released a national security strategy that employed political, economic and military means to weaken all illegal armed groups.
Recognizing that terrorism and the illicit narcotics trade in Colombia are inextricably linked, the U.S. Congress granted new expanded statutory authorities in 2002 making U.S. assistance to Colombia more flexible in order to better support President Uribe's unified campaign against narcotics and terrorism. In 2004, the Uribe government established, for the first time in recent Colombian history, a government presence in all of the country's 1,099 municipalities (county seats). Attacks conducted by illegally armed groups against rural towns decreased by 91% from 2002 to 2005. Between 2002 and 2008, Colombia saw a decrease in homicides by 44%, kidnappings by 88%, terrorist attacks by 79%, and attacks on the country's infrastructure by 60%.
In January 2007, Colombian leaders presented a new strategy to consolidate gains under Plan Colombia, which eventually became known as the National Consolidation Plan (Plan Nacional de Consolidación, PNC). The new strategy, a civilian-led whole-of-government approach, builds upon successful Plan Colombia programs to establish state presence in traditionally ungoverned spaces. By improving access to social services —including justice, education, housing and health—, strengthening democracy, and supporting economic development through sustainable growth and trade, the Colombian Government seeks to permanently recover Colombia's historically marginalized rural areas from illegal armed groups and break the cycle of violence. Since 2007, nearly $570 million have been invested only in socio-economic and humanitarian assistance to Colombia. On November 17, 2009, Ambassador William R. Brownfield and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaime Bermudez signed a new multi-year Country Assistance Agreement with the Government of
Colombia, with first-year funding of nearly $212 million. The agreement brings continuity to the socio-economic and humanitarian assistance that the U.S. Government implements in the country.
The results thus far have been impressive, but much remains to be done. The U.S. Embassy supports the PNC through its Colombia Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI). CSDI supports the Colombian Government's efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions, promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, foster socio-economic development, address immediate humanitarian needs, and end the threats to democracy posed by narcotics trafficking and terrorism. Promoting security, stability, and prosperity in Colombia will continue as long-term American interests in the region.
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