On October 9, 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo met under the auspices of the High Level Dialogue to discuss our broad bilateral agenda. Secretary Pompeo commended President Ivan Duque’s leadership and the Colombian police and military for their impressive counternarcotics efforts that resulted in a decline in coca cultivation and cocaine production in 2018 for the first time since 2012. Both countries reaffirmed the shared goal of reducing coca cultivation and cocaine production in half by the end of 2023 and recognized the need to do even more together to achieve that goal.
Colombia and the United States recognized that expanding economic opportunities, police presence, and government services in marginalized long-neglected rural communities is necessary to sustain counternarcotics gains, improve citizen security, ensure a durable peace, and attain our joint 2023 goals of reducing coca cultivation and cocaine production by 50 percent. For that reason, Minister Trujillo and Secretary Pompeo agreed to coordinate counternarcotics, security, and economic prosperity efforts through a strategic cooperation framework between the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Government of Colombia. This effort will focus on six to eight priority PDET municipalities within Colombian government-designated Zonas Futuro, especially those plagued by high levels of coca cultivation and narcotrafficking, selected in agreement with Colombia’s National Security Council. The Zonas Futuro are the Duque Administration’s targeted approach to integrated whole-of-government interventions in strategic areas. Zonas Futuro complement the territorial development plans known by their Spanish-language acronym PDET. The plans aim to transform communities through provision of public goods such as services, roads, land titles, and economic opportunities. USAID has aligned previously announced resources to support current priorities of PDET implementation. Further, under this holistic approach, we will support cooperation with additional INL resources devoted to rural security and related projects in the prioritized geographic Zonas Futuro regions.
This framework will complement the current PDET emphasis and will enable Colombia and the United States to channel additional cooperation through five interconnected lines of effort. First, through the USAID Land for Prosperity initiative, both countries will accelerate land titling procedures, boost voluntary eradication, and increase economic growth in rural communities afflicted by coca cultivation. Second, INL and Colombian law enforcement will partner to redouble eradication and interdiction activities in those same target communities in order to disrupt criminal groups and remove cocaine from the system. Third, to create the citizen security needed to enable economic opportunity, deter narcotrafficking, and sustain eradication gains, and in light of Colombian government commitment to significantly expand police presence in rural areas, INL will assist the Colombian National Police with the construction of rural police bases and community engagement efforts in selected communities. Fourth, the U.S. and Colombian governments will work to reduce the influence of criminal actors by strengthening community organizations, supporting access to justice, supporting civil society leaders, accelerating the provision of public goods and services, and building trust in the police. Finally, to sustain eradication gains, the U.S. and Colombian governments will support licit economic livelihoods through programming to increase competitiveness, connect producers to markets, and provide necessary infrastructure and government services.
Together, Colombia and the United States are confident that this strategic approach will serve to expand and sustain security gains, shift rural communities away from coca-dependent livelihoods and into licit economic activities, and build trust in Colombian state institutions.