Waiting for Consolidation: Monitoring Colombiaʼs U.S.-aided Counterinsurgency and Development Program
February 1, 2012 | Report
By Abigail Poe Akre, Adam Isacson, Yamile Salinas, Nancy Sánchez
During 2011, researchers from the Center for International Policy (CIP, Washington), Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA, Washington), Asociación MINGA (Bogotá), and the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ, Bogotá) carried out a joint project to monitor the Colombian Government's National Territorial Consolidation Plan (PNCT). Also known as "Consolidation" or "Integrated Action," this large-scale U.S. supported military and development aid program -- the successor to "Plan Colombia" -- purports to introduce a functioning government in long-neglected territories.
The Consolidation strategy begins with offensive military operations to establish "security conditions." Then, it aims quickly to bring in the rest of the government to provide basic services in a phased, coordinated way. The desired end state is the military's near-total pullout from the zone, leaving behind a functioning government, greatly reduced violence, the absence of armed groups, and the elimination of drug production.
Though its design indicates that learning has taken place since Plan Colombia's launch in 2000, we have concerns about Consolidation: the role of the military, coordination between government bodies, consultation with communities, effects on land tenure, and several others.
Over the course of 2011, we traveled to three of Colombia's Consolidation zones: the Pacific coast port of Tumaco, the La Macarena zone in south-central Colombia, and the Montes de María zone near the Caribbean. In each zone, we interviewed leaders, community members, military and civilian Consolidation officials, human rights defenders, analysts and others.
We found the desired end-state to be distant in all three zones. In some areas, the security situation was difficult. In all areas, the military's role remained predominant. Getting "buy-in" from the entire government was a frequent challenge, and local governments' performance varied very widely. In general, the pace of progress toward the declared end-state had slowed noticeably since the Consolidation program's initial phase (about 2007-2009).
CIP, WOLA, INDEPAZ and MINGA are proud to present "Waiting for Consolidation: Monitoring Colombia's U.S.-aided counterinsurgency and development program" (PDF). This new publication lays out our organizations' principal findings, concerns and recommendations following our research visits to the three zones.
Download "Waiting for Consolidation" as a printer-friendly PDF. We hope that you find it to be a useful overview of our work over the past year to monitor Colombia's U.S.-backed National Consolidation Plan strategy.