Chapter 11

Impact of Plan Colombia on Forced Displacement

By María Teresa Restrepo-Ruiz and Samuel Martínez

In this chapter, María Teresa Restrepo-Ruiz and Samuel Martínez present evidence that the flight of tens of thousands of Colombians to neighboring countries and the internal displacement of millions more is traceable to the Colombian military’s counter-insurgent violence and anti-narcotics operations, highly dependent upon U.S. support. Though this support has exacted an enormous cost — not only billions of dollars in direct assistance but also in the deaths and uprooting of so many Colombians — it is again doubtful in this case whether the United States has come closer to achieving its stated national security policy goal, of stopping illicit drug trafficking.

Study Questions

  1. In what specific ways has U.S. support for anti-insurgent and anti-drug-trafficking operations of the Colombian military translated into increased numbers of people being forced to flee their homes in the Colombian countryside?
  2. Why do some Colombian social activists consider the term “displacement” to be misleading?

Critical Thinking

  1. What does “forced displacement” really mean? For discussion leaders: Launch discussion of this chapter by asking participants to write down 3 or 4 of the things they most value in life on slips of blank paper; ask them to hand you their responses and announce to the group, “You have just become IDPs. How might becoming an IDP lead you to lose those things that are of most value to you?”
  2. What human rights does forced displacement deprive people of?

Further Research

  1. Look into the effects of aerial fumigation on rural dwellers and consider what alternatives exist to this method of curtailing coca leaf production.