The Geopolitics of Plan Colombia


  • James Petras



State Repression, Imperialism, Movements


Plan Colombia, to be understood properly, should be located in a historical perspective both in relation to Colombia and the recent conflicts in Central America. Plan Colombia is both "new" policy and a continuation of past U.S. involvement. Beginning in the early 1960s, under President Kennedy, Washington launched its counter-insurgency program, forming special forces, designed to attack "internal enemies." The targets were Colombian self-defense communities, particularly in Marquetalia. Subsequently, the Pentagon continued its counter-insurgency presence in Colombia. Thus, Plan Colombia is President Clinton's extension and deepening of President Kennedy's internal war. The differences between the earlier version of the internal war doctrine and its current reincarnation are found in the ideological justifications for U.S. intervention, the scale and scope of U.S. involvement and the regional context of the intervention. Under Kennedy counter-insurgency was based on the threat of international communism, today the justification is based on the drug threat. In both instances there is total denial of the historical-sociological basis of the conflict.

This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full.

Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article at the Monthly Review website.