SAM KESSELMAN (GRADE 11)
When we get scared, we react. Rather, whenever we feel a strong emotion such as fear, love, etc, we react. However, one must realize that the severity of a reaction might not fit the circumstance. Specifically, I want to discuss the case of US involvement in the Colombian Government in the late 1990s. The Colombian Government and United States created a policy known as “Plan Colombia.” This controversial, long term policy has been at the forefront of the United States’ reaction to conflict and matters arising in Colombia.
In 1999, the plan began as a joint effort between then US President Bill Clinton and then Colombian President Andrés Arango. The governments agreed on a collaborative plan that would secure power within Colombia, put down rebel groups, decrease cocaine trafficking. To achieve all these goals, the USA would have to pay big time. The United States has given million and billions of dollars to the government to help achieve the aforementioned goals.
First, the USA saw a political problem in the country. They observed a potential left wing revolutionary guerilla groups that would overthrow the Colombian government. In accordance with the US policy against this kind of left-wing communism, the US reacted to give the Colombian government more tools to fight these groups. Our tax dollars went towards financing arms and training exercises for their military. The efforts were successful in preventing this type of revolution, but at a cost. Bounties were placed on the heads of certain guerilla leaders. Many innocent Colombians have been killed in the crossfire. To this extent, the policy was good in intent, put there are so many better ways to achieve peace. For instance, a treaty was just signed in October 2016 to resolve issues.
Second, the methods of removing cocaine came with mixed results. Part of Plan Colombia involved the wide spraying of herbicides across “coca plants.” The airplane drops of herbicide in targeted areas was successful in diminishing the quantity of production of cocaine in Colombia and the trade has decreased. Many less people die from overdosing and the dangerous nature of the cocaine business, and yes, that is a good thing. However, the wide herbicide spraying comes with side effects. Not all vegetation in Colombia is just coca plants. The agriculture sector of the economy took a large hit. Herbicide sprayings kill farmers’ crops, native vegetation, and makes its way into the water table, and parts of the majestic Amazon Rainforest. It is an environmental catastrophe. In addition, the health of Colombian citizens is adversely harmed. Herbicide that kill plants equally harm the average person.
On the whole, Plan Colombia had very clear, good goals from its inception. Stable governments are a good thing. The government right now is doing very well and Colombia’s economy is projected to be just as strong as others in the region like Venezuela and Brazil. Cocaine is also a bad thing. Many people OD every year. By reducing the prevalence of the illegal drug, lives have been saved.
However, it is crucial to realize that sometimes the cure is harsher than the disease. Plan Colombia is a perfect of example of American values: fast, cheap, easy. Plan Colombia attempted to solve the problems in this manner. However, these successes come at too great a cost. Too many people have been harmed by this plan. We need a plan that will solve key issues while also protecting Colombian citizens. We need to do what every English teacher tells you to do: revise and edit when you see an error in your work before you turn it in.