Narcos all over again: Colombia faces another crisis

The Washington ExaminerThis past August, Vice President Mike Pence had a successful visit to Colombia, our closest ally in the South America. The Vice President’s visit to this Andean nation (whose capital, Bogota, is only a three-hour flight from Miami) demonstrates the Trump administration’s commitment to Colombia as a strategic partner.

Colombia recently ended its multi-decade internal conflict fueled and funded mostly by deadly narcotics, but the nation once again faces a turning point with consequences for America’s neighborhoods and communities already battling the opioid crisis.

In the 1990s and through recent years, the U.S.’ Plan Colombia assistance package of approximately $10 billion helped Colombia (in particular, the Colombian police and military) beat back the mighty drug-funded narco-terrorists like the FARC and the big drug cartels. The hard dollars and military equipment paid for by U.S. taxpayers helped to bring some version of peace to Colombia by directly tackling the drug threat and taking the fight to the cocaine fields. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.