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The Decisive Phase of Columbia's War on Narco-Terrorism

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In early 2002, the final days of Colombian President Andres Pastranas administration were marred by an unending internal war against right wing and leftist narco-terrorists and criminal cartels. During his administration, the narco-terrorists reached their zenith of power. The right-wing paramilitary groups, under the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia AUC umbrella organization, were demanding legal status and greater political power. The two major leftist groups, the largest being the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia FARC and the other the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional ELN, threatened the capital and were able to operate in every region of Colombia. All of these groups were well armed due to their income from narco-dollars. In a desperate bid for peace, Pastrana ceded to the FARC a vast safe-haven, known as the Zona del Despeje, in exchange for participation in peace talks. Regardless, the FARC continued illicit trafficking and even engaged in terrorist acts while talking peace. Pastranas plan to make peace with the narco-terrorists was Plan Colombia, a 6-year strategy to overhaul almost every aspect of Colombian society. The plan was developed with considerable U.S. assistance and it focused on five critical areas 1 curbing narco-trafficking, 2 reforming the justice system, 3 fostering democratization and social development, 4 stimulating economic growth, and 5 advancing the peace process. In January 2002, Pastranas peace initiative failed after 3 years of peace talks with the FARC. Nevertheless, Plan Colombia served to commit the United States to assisting Colombia. On August 7, 2002, President Alvaro Uribe assumed office, promising an uncompromising hard-line towards the narco-terrorists. This paper describes Uribes strategy to implement Plan Colombia with U.S. military assistance.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Unconventional Warfare

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