By Megan Alpert for Foreign Policy. Last week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos came to Washington to tout the dual-barreled successes of peace talks with the rebel group FARC and Plan Colombia, an aid program that began in 2000 when the government had control of only a third of its country. At a Feb. 4 reception, U.S. President Barack Obama announced the next phase of the partnership between Bogota and Washington would be called Peace Colombia and hailed “a country that was on the brink of collapse is now on the brink of peace.”
Amid the congratulatory speeches, however, nothing was said about the fact that Plan Colombia has done little to stem the nation’s cocaine exports after 15 years and $10 billion in U.S. aid devoted to what was initially a counter-narcotics program.
Santos did not deny that Colombia remains the world’s No. 1 cocaine producer. “We’ve never been No. 2,” he quipped during a Feb. 3 question-and-answer session hosted by the Wilson Center think-tank in Washington. In fact, Colombia did fall behind Peru for two years, before retaking the top spot in 2014.