BY DANIEL WISER
Joint anti-drug efforts between the United States and Colombia have reduced cocaine production and violence and could serve as a model for other regional countries aiming to build better democracies, experts say.
For the joint initiative, known as “Plan Colombia,” the United States provides airplanes, helicopters, and special operations training and advice to Colombian forces. Lawmakers have appropriated more than $8 billion for the program between 2000 and 2012, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.
Recent statistics suggest that money was well spent. Peru surpassed Colombia last year in farming of the coca plant, the source of raw materials for cocaine, for the first time in two decades, according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. The U.N. estimated that Colombia produced 270 fewer metric tons of cocaine last year compared to 2006.