Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the drug war failure
Written and directed by Gerard Ungerman and Audrey Brohy
Produced by Free Will Productions
Available on DVD and VHS

“Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the drug war failure,” an engrossing documentary by Gerard Ungerman and Audrey Brohy, provides convincing evidence that the U.S. government’s war against drugs has been ineffectual.

In 2000, the U.S. and Colombian governments devised Plan Colombia in which large-scale fumigation of coca crops and use of financial incentives to convince farmers to grow food crops would be the principal means used to halt the river of Colombian cocaine streaming into the U.S. However, U.S. government figures indicate that Colombia is still the largest grower and supplier of cocaine to the U.S. Not only is large-scale fumigation creating health and environmental hazards, these chemicals are leaching through the Amazon. Farmers complain that the amount that authorities offer them to grow food crops instead of coca plants is minuscule and inadequate to meet their basic needs. They also lack the means of transporting food to local and international markets.

Author Noam Chomsky and the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) are featured in the documentary. Chomsky said studies demonstrate that expanding treatment facilities for addicts is the most economical way to reduce drug imports from Colombia. Yet the U.S. consistently underfunds such programs, Wellstone said.

Chomsky puts the U.S. “war against drugs” in perspective. Legal drugs such as cigarettes, he argues, kill 25 times more people than cocaine and other illegal drugs combined.

In reality, Plan Colombia disguises the real intentions of the U.S. government — control of Colombia’s oil resources. The country is second to Venezuela as the region’s largest oil producer and seventh largest exporter to the U.S. Intent on reducing its dependence on Middle Eastern oil, the U.S. wants to ensure that Colombia is ruled by a government friendly to U.S. interests, and has spent billions of dollars for many years to support the Colombian army’s efforts to destroy the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Colombia is currently the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, after Israel and Egypt. The country has been in a civil war for the last 40 years, and FARC governs 40 percent of the country. Paramilitary groups supported by Colombia’s military are heavily involved in the drug trade. To make matters worse, much of the drug profits from Colombian cocaine exports are laundered through U.S. banks.

Ungerman and Brohy tackle allegations that FARC is a narco-terrorist organization. As a retired Colombian army colonel indicates, FARC was around long before Colombia became a major cocaine exporter. Colombia has always been a brutal, class-divided society controlled by the small rich elite that suppresses social dissent or opposition. FARC emerged when the ruling class initiated a campaign of repression against discontented peasants, students and workers. Realizing peaceful change was no longer possible, many fled into the jungles to start FARC. In terms of the drug trade, FARC admits that it taxes those who buy the coca from farmers in the regions that it controls, but its involvement goes no further.

“Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure” is a valuable resource for people wanting to understand what is happening in Colombia today.