Drug War:

Observations on Counternarcotics Aid to Colombia

NSIAD-91-296: Published: Sep 30, 1991. Publicly Released: Oct 25, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. programs to assist Columbia in interdicting cocaine production and trafficking, focusing on the uses and amounts of such aid.

GAO found that: (1) between August 1989 and September 1990, the United States provided $65 million in emergency assistance for Colombia's military and police and programmed an additional $87 million in grant aid; (2) the Andean Drug Strategy permits Columbia to use U.S. aid against both drug traffickers and insurgents involved in the drug trade; (3) U.S. officials believe that a flexible policy is needed to allow aid to be used against insurgent groups when their activities either impede effective government action to combat narcotics trafficking or are clearly intertwined with those of the narcotics traffickers; (4) U.S. officials have not finalized plans for designating how the aid should be used by military units, monitoring how the military aid is used, and evaluating the effectiveness of the aid in achieving counternarcotics objectives; (5) the lack of management oversight hinders assurances that the aid is being used effectively and as intended; (6) adequate criteria do not exist to evaluate the effectiveness of U.S. assistance; and (7) although Colombia has a democratically elected government, it has experienced increased violence because of the drug traffickers and insurgents, which has led to numerous reports of human rights abuses of innocent civilians.