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A still-unfolding scandal in Colombia is revealing American Commission on Human Rights,” establishing that the government’s intelligence agency not only spied upon major players in Colombia’s democracy—from Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges to presidential candidates, from journalists and publishers to human rights defenders, from international organizations to U.S. and European human rights groups—but also carried out dirty tricks, and even death threats, to undermine their legitimate, democratic activities.

Across Latin America, governments and publics viewed Barack Obama’s election with surprise and hope. Presidents eagerly lined up to shake his hand and share a brief moment of history at the April 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, and many dared to dream that a new relationship with the region might dawn. President Obama’s words at the summit helped inspire that hope.

Forced eradication is a deeply entrenched aspect of U.S. international drug control policy. It has the appeal of seeming “tough” and straightforward — if we wipe out drugs at the “source,” they won’t make it to our shores — and it has attained enormous political and bureaucratic inertia. But after nearly three decades, the effort to eliminate drugs at the point of production, chiefly through forced crop eradication, has failed. 

 

This report independently evaluates "Integrated Action," a new approach to state-building and counterinsurgency that the U.S. government is supporting in Colombia. Ten years and $6.8 billion after the 2000 launch of "Plan Colombia," officials from both governments are billing Integrated Action as the future direction of U.S. assistance to Colombia.

During the opening session of the first Meeting of Public Security Ministers of the Americas, held in October 2008, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, emphatically claimed that “security-related issues have become one of the principal threats to stability, the strengthening of democracy, and the development potential of our region.” Insulza’s statement highlighted the fundamental role that citizen security plays in the consolidation of Latin America’s democracies.

Over the past nine years, an estimated 300,000 Colombian refugees have crossed their country’s border with Ecuador. They have fled persecution, threats, disappearances, murders, deliberate displacement, and recruitment by the parties to Colombia’s long, drug-funded war between government forces, leftist guerrillas, and paramilitary militias, all of which violate human rights with great frequency.

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Recent Reports

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