President Joe Biden has proclaimed himself the architect of Plan Colombia. A plan that transformed Colombia into a hyper-militarized bastion of right-wing rule, enhancing the power and presence of the notoriously brutal armed forces while failing miserably in its anti-narcotic and reformist objectives.
According to Robert White, the former number two at the US embassy in Bogota. The original Plan Colombia, was written in Spanish and had no mention of military action against the FARC rebels. However, in the translated Biden/Washington English version, almost 80 percent of the $7.5 billion plan went to the Colombian military. Five hundred US military personnel were promptly dispatched to Bogota to train Columbian military personnel.
On July 5, 2019, CNN interview Biden explained his Plan Columbia. “We went down and said, okay, and I was one of the architects of Plan Colombia,” Biden continued. “I said, here’s the deal. If you have all these crooked cops, all these federal police, we’re sending our FBI down, you let us put them through a lie detector test, let us tell you who you should fire, and tell you the kind of people you should hire. They did and began to change. We can do so much if we’re committed.”
Six years into the Bill Clinton/Biden Plan Colombia, US drug czar John Walters admitted that the price of cocaine in the US had declined, the flow of the drug into the US had risen, and its purity had increased. The UN Office of Drugs and Crime has reported that in 2018 coca cultivation reached record levels in Colombia.
In the first four months of 2019, more than 50 human rights defenders were killed. While the US remains in control, Colombian coca production has reached record levels. It has been a failed anti-drug policy with billions of wasted dollars and has produced a society in turmoil. Why does Biden remain boastful of his Plan Columbia?
Plan Northern Triangle
After 15 years of human misery and billions of dollars squandered in Colombia, Biden set out on a personal mission to export his pet program to Central America crime and corruption-ravaged Northern Triangle.
Biden has bragged of imposing Washington policies on the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. His brainchild channeled $750 million through a right-wing government installed by a US-orchestrated military coup to spur mega-development projects and privatize social services.
At that time, the government of Honduras had no capacity or will to resist the Biden plan. Honduras had democratically elected president Juan Manuel Zelaya. In 2009, a coup orchestrated by the United States removed him from office.
Zelaya told Anya Parampil, “the Obama administration was infuriated by his participation in ALBA, a regional economic development program put forward by Venezuela’s then-President Hugo Chavez that provided an alternative to neoliberal formulas like the so-called “Biden Plan.”
Following the military coup, the FBI sent personnel to Honduras to oversee the training of FUSINA, the main operational arm of the Honduran army and the base of the Military Police for Public Order (PMOP) that patrols cities like an occupation force. Then the US embassy created a special forces unit known as the Tigres. Besides arresting activists, they reportedly helped a drug kingpin escape a US investigation.
After the coup, poverty, violent crime, and unemployment surged. The unstable post-coup Honduras was particularly harsh on LGTBI (Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bisexual, and Intersex) Hondurans. Since 2009, more than three hundred in their community were killed.
By 2014, the blowback of the Obama administration initiated coup had caused a national emergency. Thousands of Hondurans were being confined in detention camps run by the US Department of Homeland Security. Many of the detainees were not even 16 years old.
That summer, Obama went to Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to increase border militarization. Deportation of unaccompanied Central American minors was made possible.
Biden used that opportunity to rustle up an additional billion dollars, exploiting the crisis to fund a massive neoliberal project that saw Honduras as a base for international financial opportunity. Congress quickly ratified, and the first phase of the Alliance for Prosperity began. The role that Vice President Biden was so central it was known as “Plan Biden.”
Dana Frank, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of the book, The Long Honduran Night stated; “In reality, the Plan would further enrich and strengthen the political power of the very same elites whose green, deliberate subversion of the rule of law, and destruction of natural resources and of Indigenous and Campesino land rights, were responsible for the dire conditions the proposal ostensibly addressed.”
The Alliance for Progress provided the backdrop for the assassination of the renowned Honduran environmentalist and feminist organizer Berta Cáceres. Cáceres was leading the fight against a local dam project overseen by DESA, a powerful Honduran energy company backed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and run by former military officers.
A representative from DESA, Sergio Rodríguez, was accused of the masterminding of Cáceres’ murder. In March 2018, the Honduran police arrested DESA’s executive president, Roberto David Castillo Mejía, for “providing logistics and other resources to one of the material authors” of the assassination.
By 2017, a movement in Honduras against the US and its orchestrated 2009 coup saw an opportunity for political transformation at the ballot box. President Hernández was running for re-election, violating a constitutional provision on term limits. His opponent, Salvador Nasrallah, a popular broadcast personality, provided a consensus choice for those opposed to the coup regime.
When voting ended on November 26, Nasrallah appeared the victor. The exit polls were showing him comfortably ahead by several points. But suddenly, the government announced that a power outage required the suspension of vote counting. Days later, Hernández was declared the victor by about 1 percent.
The fraud was so transparent that the Organization of American States (OAS), an arm of US interests in Latin America, declared “errors, irregularities, and systemic problems,” as well as “extreme statistical improbability,” rendered the election invalid. But the United States recognized the results, leaving Hondurans with protest as their only recourse.
Karen Spring, of the Honduras Solidarity Network, explained, “Hondurans wanted to use their votes to change the country and now they’re voting with their feet,” she continued. “So if Biden’s plan really addressed the root causes of the migrant crisis, why aren’t people asking why migration is getting worse? Hondurans are voting on the Biden plan by fleeing and saying your plan didn’t work and it made our situation worse by fleeing to the border.”
Adrienne Pine, professor of anthropology at American University and leading researcher of the social crisis in Honduras, has explained. “Biden’s policies are driving more people out of Central America and making human rights defenders lives more precarious by defending entities that have no interest in human rights.” Pine added, “Biden is taking credit for doing something constructive to stop the migration crisis and blaming the concentration camps [on the US-Mexico border] on Trump. But it’s Biden.”
As the social chaos continues to crippled the Northern Triangle, migration to the US-Mexico border has surged to catastrophic levels. Unable to make ends meet, Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans send their children alone to the US border, hoping for protection or refugee status.
Mr President these people are dying to hear the details of the next Plan.