HomeNewsBrief‘US Spends More on Drug Rehab than on Plan Colombia’
BRIEF

'US Spends More on Drug Rehab than on Plan Colombia'

COLOMBIA / 18 FEB 2013 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

The US ambassador to Colombia has emphasized that the country now spends more on domestic treatment and prevention programs than on combating drug production via the Plan Colombia aid program.

In a  two-part interview with Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, US Ambassador Michael McKinley highlighted the United States' shifting approach to the drug war. He said the country spent more on domestic prevention and treatment programs in the past three years than on Plan Colombia, a program of approximately $7.5 billion that was passed in 2000, and provided mostly military aid to Colombia. 

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the US federal government spent $10.1 billion on drug prevention and treatment programs in 2012.

McKinley added that in terms of anti-drug policy, the best option was a combination of what El Tiempo called the "repressive" approach with a strategy focused on treatment. "The answer isn't total war, nor is it legalization in its most extreme form," he said.

While describing US efforts to shift the focus of its drug policy, McKinley cited cited three former Latin American presidents who were part of a 19-person panel which called for a global shift on drug policy in 2011.

Since then, other Latin American presidents -- from President Otto Perez of Guatemala to President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia -- have spoken of the need to debate reforming drug policy across Latin America.

InSight Crime Analysis

The United States has undergone an important shift by investing more in treatment and rehabilitation programs than in fighting drug production in Colombia. Alongside the legalization of marijuana in two states last year, such changes hint at a slow evolution in the country's drug policy.

Nevertheless, some critics say these changes have been mostly superficial. "The greatest shift has involved not the substance but the rhetoric of top federal drug control officials, who prefer to present themselves as advocates of a public health approach to illicit drugs while clinging tightly to criminal justice and other coercive methods," Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the advocacy group the Drug Policy Alliance, told InSight Crime. 

The United States has been less willing to openly voice support for drug policy reform efforts in Latin America, including Bolivia's successful campaign in the United Nations to decriminalize traditional uses of coca leaf. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 19 JUL 2013

A new wave of protests in Colombia's troubled coca-growing region has more than 30 injured, as the government takes a…

COLOMBIA / 18 MAR 2014

The massacre of five men from Colombia just across the border in Venezuela's Tachira state has drawn attention to the…

COLOMBIA / 1 FEB 2017

Local officials in Cali, Colombia are planning to expand a recently instituted gang reintegration program, raising questions about…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.