cuba nisation

Download Cuba Nisation

Post on 03-Apr-2018




0 download

Embed Size (px)


  • 7/28/2019 Cuba Nisation








    APRIL, 1998


    Colombia, unlike the majority of its Latin American and Caribbean neighbours, had a remarkable

    record of friendly relations with the United States throughout most of the twentieth century.

    However, this situation changed in 1995 when the U.S. downgraded Colombia's previous status

    of alliance in the war against illegal drugs by granting it a conditional certification (national

    interest waiver) on its performance in drug control.1 The drug certification is the annual process

    by which the U.S. evaluates other countries' accomplishments in drug control making foreign aid

    conditional to their degree of cooperation. It also involves economic sanctions when cooperation

    is deemed unsatisfactory. In 1996 and 1997 Bill Clinton's administration decertified Colombia

    completely. The media reported Colombia's 'Cuba-nisation' in Washington as U.S. policy makers

    became obsessed with isolating the Colombian president, Ernesto Samper.2 Colombia was

    officially branded as a 'threat to democracy' and to the U.S.3

    1 See chapter 3 for detailed explanaition of certification.2 Expression used by journalist Henry Raymount in Washington and quoted in El Tiempo, November 6,

    1996, p. 11A.3 U.S. Department of State, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL),

    International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) 1997, Washington D.C., March 1997. p. xli.


  • 7/28/2019 Cuba Nisation


    Colombia and the U.S. quarrelled so severely that they perceived each other as enemies. 'Never

    before, had relations between the U.S. and Colombia been so tense', claimed Myles Frechette, the

    U.S. Ambassador to Colombia.4 Meanwhile, amidst exacerbated anti-Americanism, Colombian

    policy makers regretted this new and adversarial state of affairs:

    Colombia and the United States have maintained a traditional friendship and been resolute

    allies in the great battle for peace... We do not feel indebted in matters of collaboration with

    the great power and that is why we are surprised by the change of policy towards Colombia and

    the hostility shown towards a nation that has proven its friendship.5

    Drugtrafficking in the Western Hemisphere had become a major security issue in the 1990s and

    strained relations between the U.S. and those countries categorised as transit or source areas. The

    Andean region in South America produced 95% of the cocaine flowing into the U.S.; drug cartels

    became powerful transnational criminal organisations; and the U.S. made approximately 1.14

    million arrests per year for drug violations as it still had 1.5 million regular users of cocaine, 9.8

    of marijuana and 600 thousand heroine addicts.6 The U.S. anti-narcotic bureaucracy believed

    that disrupting insidious drug cartels and fumigating illicit crops diminished the availability of

    drugs on their streets by raising its price or preventing its production. On the other hand, Latin

    American countries called for greater control of drug demand in the U.S. They were concerned

    with the social and economic effects of highly punitive policies in their countries and rejected

    U.S.'s excessive interference.

    However, despite constant disagreements, no Latin American country had ever been decertified

    by the U.S., except for Panama in 1988 and 1989 before Operation Just Cause --the invasion that

    aimed at abducting General Manuel Antonio Noriega, the Panamanian leader involved in

    drugtrafficking. Otherwise, decertification was a politically humiliating category usually

    assigned to pariah countries outside the hemisphere such as Afghanistan, Burma, Iran, Syria and

    Laos. This made Colombia's decertification in 1996 and 1997 an uncommon and highly

    4 El Tiempo, November 7, 1997, p. 10A.5 This declaration was signed by 9 Colombian Ambassadors. 'Embajadores en Europea rechazan

    decertificacin', in El Tiempo, March 7, 1996, p. 6A.


  • 7/28/2019 Cuba Nisation


    inflammatory step. Moreover, the deep deterioration of the U.S.-Colombian relationship between

    1995 and 1997 was particularly striking because both countries had a reasonably good record of

    counternarcotic cooperation. This was characterised by joint operations, the establishment of

    institutions within the prohibitionist framework, and the concentration on supply-side policies.

    The U.S.-Colombian counternarcotic cooperation went back as far as the 1960s, when Colombia

    began producing marijuana. Later on, Colombia switched to producing cocaine, the illegal drug

    industry grew and bilateral cooperation increased accordingly to the new challenges. Colombia

    became the showcase of the U.S. Andean Strategy and was considered to be 'the most dedicated

    of the Andean countries.'7

    In addition to the the disputes with the U.S. during the mid-1990s, Colombia's experienced the

    strongest domestic crisis in decades. For the first time, a Colombian president, Ernesto Samper,

    faced a two-round trial in Congress after being accused of receiving funds from the Cali drug

    cartel during his presidential campaign in 1994. This was a challenge posed to the President,

    hence the Executive branch --sacred symbols of democracy and stability in Colombia which had

    otherwise remained free from serious threats. Overall, there was a sense of instability at both the

    national and international levels.

    This thesis focuses specifically on the U.S.-Colombian relationship from 1995 to 1997. The aim

    is to determine how and why the relationship deteriorated so severely and also the way in which

    the domestic Colombian crisis related to this development. The most common explanation

    contends that a lack of cooperation caused and exacerbated the disputes between both countries.

    Academics and politicians have turned to this argument for different reasons. U.S. policy makers

    claim that Colombia was un-cooperative as it refused to arrest Cali cartel members in 1993 and

    that this led to the clash. On the other hand Colombian policy makers say that the temporary

    6 U.S. Department of State, INL, INCSR 1997, pp. xiv, xxx , xli; The White House, The National Drug

    Control Strategy (NDCS) 1997 (Washington: GPO, 1997), pp. 10-11, 18.7 U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), Drug War. Observations on Counternarcotics Aid to Colombia

    (Washington D.C.: GAO, 1991), p. 15.


  • 7/28/2019 Cuba Nisation


    suspension in 1994 of legal evidence-exchange regarding drug-related cases was clear proof of

    U.S.'s. lack of cooperation. Juan Tokatlian, academic specialist on the topic, argued that the U.S.,

    'motivated only by its own desires and based on individual needs and with the purpose of

    maximising self-realisation --more a sign of arrogance and clumsiness than a sign of firm and

    fecund leadership', deliberately shifted its attitude towards Colombia from 1992 onwards,

    generating friction and serious antagonism.8 Analyses of the 1995-1997 period erroneously

    ignored the actual continuity of counternarcotic cooperation at the same time that diplomatic

    confrontation was taking place.9 The reduction of the meaning of 'counternarcotic cooperation'

    into specific short-term actions and the manipulated interpretations of the concept prevented a

    sound analysis and contaminated political discussions.

    This thesis illustrates that a prolonged or generalised breach of cooperation did not occur either

    before or during the rise and worsening of U.S.-Colombian diplomatic disputes. From 1992 to

    1998, Colombia and the U.S. dismantled the Cali and Medellin cartels, two of the most powerful

    drugtrafficking organisations that operated since the early 1980s. The U.S. disbursed more than

    $10 billion per year for demand and supply control during that period and it established a

    preferential trade agreement, still in force, with Andean countries to compensate some of the

    negative economic consequences of drug control.10 Colombia finally created stricter legislation

    resembling laws in the U.S. In addition, regular bilateral mechanisms of evaluation and

    consultation progressively formed and improved over that period. In reality, the 1990s constitute

    a peak of international prohibitionism in the Western hemisphere. However, as it will be seen in

    chapter 2, despite active cooperation, difficulties in implementing anti-drug policies emerged

    resulting in a profound disillusionment, giving the impression that cooperation was non-existent

    and providing a fertile ground for recriminations.

    8 Juan Tokatlian, Drogas, dilemas y dogmas. Estados Unidos y la narcocriminalidad organizada enColombia (Bogot: Tercer Mundo Editores-CEI, 1995), p. 22.9 See mainly the compilation of articles in Francisco Leal Buitrago (ed.), Tras las huellas de la crisis

    poltica, (Bogot: TME-FESCOL-IEPRI, 1996).


  • 7/28/2019 Cuba Nisation


    Another explanation of U.S.-Colombian disputes refers to U.S.'s 'securitisation' of illegal drugs

    (i.e. understanding drugs as a national security concern) and the resulting militarisation of the

    whole Andean region. This argument has been most favoured by authors such as Bruce Bagley,

    Juan Tokatlian, Donald Mabry and William O. Walker III


View more >