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From the Alliance for Progress to the Plan Colombia
A retrospective look at USAID and the Colombian conflict

Luis Eduardo Fajardo (historian/economist), Universidad del Rosario

This project seeks to present an historical perspective on US financial assistance to the government of Colombia. The premise of the study is that previous attempts at stabilising beleaguered Colombian state institutions through large foreign aid packages left largely unsatisfactory results. One of the reasons behind this failure was the changing internal political environment in the US, and the impact this had on US commitment to large-scale aid flows to Colombia. Specifically, this study will focus on the Alliance for Progress initiative of the 1960s, a case study that reveals many of the shortfalls of a counter-insurgency strategy based primarily on the promise of large-scale US aid. In particular, it will try to explore the political reasons that determined US commitment (or lack of commitment) to maintaining economic aid to Colombia in the 1960s. It will identify the political processes that eventually led US policymakers to abandon the initiative in the late 1960s with many of its goals unattained. The project will also attempt a preliminary comparative study in order to evaluate differences and similarities between the Alliance for Progress and the present-day "Plan Colombia", which is seeing renewed US involvement with Colombia. This should yield elements that will contribute to assess the feasibility of Plan Colombia as a strategy for institutional strengthening.

Outputs from this project:

Working Paper No.28 (April 2003)
From the Alliance for Progress to the Plan Colombia
(Luis Eduardo Fajardo)
Download in English

Related themes:

Political & Social impact of liberalisation

State capacity to manage conflict


Related publications:

Luis Fajarado, 'The Andean Regional Initiative (an examination of US aid to Andean countries)', in South America, Central America and the Caribbean 2004, London: Taylor & Francis, 2003

Luis Fajarado, 'La Corrupción Heredada: pasado colonial, sistema legal y desarrollo económico en Colombia', Revista de Estudios Sociales, 12 (June 2002), pp.20-29
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Last modified: 6th October 2004