This paper presents a history-based perspective on the present controversy surrounding US financial assistance to Colombia through a discussion on how the US government implemented its Colombian aid programme during the Alliance for Progress (AFP) initiative of the 1960's. The study adds to previous accounts on the political and economic history of Colombia in that period, mainly through the description and analysis of recently declassified US government documents. It presents a case study that seems to confirm theoretical assumptions on the difficulties of imposing conditionality measures on aid recipient countries. Finally, it presents some elements of comparison between the AFP and the present US aid initiative known as Plan Colombia.
The general premise of the study is that previous attempts at stabilising beleaguered Colombian state organisations through large foreign aid packages left largely unsatisfactory results. The Colombian experience with the AFP reveals many of the shortfalls of a counter-insurgency strategy based primarily on the promise of large-scale US aid, and suggests some of the difficulties to be faced in the future by a strategy of institutional strengthening based on Plan Colombia.
Fajardo, L.E. Working Paper No.28. From the Alliance for Progress to the Plan Colombia: a retrospective look at US aid to Colombia. (2003) 40 pp.