Plan Colombia, 10 years later. Plan Colombia, which is now overseen by President Juan Manuel Santos, can count a number of successes. James Story, the director of the Narcotic Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, told CNN last week that since Plan Colombia's inception, coca cultivation in Colombia has dropped 40 percent, cocaine production 60 percent, homicides 50 percent, and terrorism and kidnappings more than 90 percent. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report, FARC forces have declined by approximately half since 2001 to just under 8,000, and the percentage of Colombians living in poverty dropped from 54 percent in 2002 to 46 percent in 2009.
But beyond the controversies over fumigation and human rights abuses, there are questions about how effective the program has truly been. Critics argue, for example, that Plan Colombia has simply pushed the drug problem to Andean neighbors like Bolivia and Peru or other Latin American countries. In congressional testimony last week, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, William Brownfield, admitted that "traffickers often respond to our advances by simply moving to areas where law enforcement is weaker and the political climate is more conducive to their free operation." America's anti-drug operations in Peru and Bolivia in the 1980s shifted operations to Colombia, he explained, and "the success of Plan Colombia led to a trafficking shift to Mexico."
Above, a Colombian soldier in elaborate camouflage stands guard during a presentation trumpeting the seizure of a cocaine laboratory in 2010.