War on drugs prolonged Colombia’s decades-long civil war, landmark report finds


Truth commission’s report, touted as a chance to heal after half a century of bloodshed, called for a ‘substantial change in drug policy’

The punitive, prohibitionist war on drugs helped prolong Colombia’s disastrous civil war, the country’s truth commission has found, in a landmark report published on Tuesday as part of an effort to heal the raw wounds left by the conflict.

The report, titled “There is a future if there is truth”, was the first installment of a study put together by the commission that was formed as part of a historic 2016 peace deal with the leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

That deal formally ended five decades of civil war that killed more than 260,000 people and forced 7 million from their homes. Other leftist rebel groups, state-aligned paramilitaries and Colombia’s security forces contributed to the bloodshed, with atrocities committed on all sides.

The violence has affected all sectors of Colombian society – from political and business elites to rural peasant farmers – with drug money funding insurgents, paramilitaries and corrupt politicians. The poorest farmers have often been forced – either economically or at the barrel of a gun – to grow coca, the base ingredient used to make cocaine.

But the report found that “the union of the interests of United States and Colombia led to the construction of Plan Colombia”, a huge multibillion-dollar military aid program that began in 2000, “which merged together with the counter-insurgency, anti-terrorism and anti-narcotics programs with the war against narco-terrorism”.




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