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Justin Delacour

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Plan Colombia: Rhetoric, Reality, and the Press

Justin Delacour argues that Plan Colombia element of “war on drugs” is a pretext for a counterinsurgency strategy, and that the United States simply strengthened a repressive regime that used paramilitaries in brutal attacks on civilians and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who oppose privatization of state-owned companies and infrastructure. He argues that US policy in Colombia has the support of weapons producers (United Technologies and Bell Helicopter Textron), oil companies (BP-Amoco and Occidental Petroleum), and the US energy group, Enron, which is interested in buying Colombia’s state-run power generator. According to Delacour, as long as there is high demand for drugs in wealthy countries like the United States and a lack of viable economic options in poorer countries like Colombia, the trafficking of illegal narcotics will continue to thrive, driven by systemic inequalities in wealth and living standards. Delacour’s analysis of US press coverage of Colombia shows how mainstream media outlets have relied on official US sources for their news reports, partly due to threats from the US Embassy in Bogotá that reporters would be banned from embassy-sponsored briefings unless the embassy approved of their coverage. He shows how biased and simplistic reporting serves to generate ideological support for US policy at home.

Latin America, Colombia — drug trade; Colombia — human rights; Colombia — paramilitary; Colombia — guerrillas; United States — foreign relations — Colombia

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 27, No. 4 (2000): 63-75