Search - Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure on DVD

Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure
Plan Colombia Cashing in on the Drug War Failure
Actor: Ed Asner
Directors: Gerard Ungerman, Audrey Brohy
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
NR     2005     0hr 57min

A 20-year "war on drugs" in Colombia has been paid for by the U.S. taxpayers. Still more and more drugs and narco-dollars are entering the U.S. every year. Is it a mere failure by Washington? Or is it a smokescreen to secu...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Ed Asner
Directors: Gerard Ungerman, Audrey Brohy
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Studio: Cinema Libre
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/25/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 0hr 57min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Spanish
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

More Americans need to be made aware of what we are doing in
Amazon customer | 06/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Although most Americans probably know very little about Colombia, this country receives the most US "aid" after Israel and Egypt. Why? That's precisely the question this documentary attempts to answer.

Under president Clinton, Plan Colombia was created as part of the "War on Drugs." There are two main parts to this policy:

1) Spraying large fields of Coca (the plant from which cocaine is produced) with highly toxic pesticides.

2) Sending millions of dollars in aid (money, soldiers and weaponry) to the right-wing government and its military to assist in fighting the FARC, a left-wing guerrilla group involved in drug trafficking.

However, this program has had no effect in reducing cocaine production (in Colombia) or consumption (in the US) because:

1) Poor peasants who produce Coca continue to do so because it is the source of their livelihood (although at this level of production they are not exactly getting rich off of it). If they could grow bananas, for example, instead of Coca, and make money, they would. But, there is not the same market for bananas as for Coca.

2) It is incredibly difficult to eradicate the Coca plant because it is very resistant, like weeds. So, although the toxic pesticides we are using are causing environmental destruction and are possibly endangering the health of Colombians, we are unable to destroy all the Coca crops.

3) The only way to reduce drug trafficking is by eliminating the demand (remember the good old law of supply and demand?). Reducing the supply through these methods only makes the demand increase, which pushes up the price and makes people willing to take even greater risks to produce and sell cocaine. Although study after study has shown that domestic drug treatment programs are more effective in combating drug abuse, in the US we continue to spend very little on these programs while spending "billions" on trying to reduce the supply.

4) The Colombian government, its military and paramilitary (the paramilitary "claim" to have no connection to the government, but everyone knows otherwise) are also involved in drug trafficking. Thus, we are essentially sending money directly to drug traffickers.

Faced with these failures, why do we continue with this program? Why did the US, under Bush, actually increase funding to Plan Colombia? The documentary gives the following answers.

1) After the Middle East, most of the oil that comes into the US comes from this region (Venezuela and Colombia). The US wants to ensure that a strong right-wing regime that is friendly to US corporate interests remains in power indefinitely. That way we have secure access to their oil. This situation has become particularly pressing now that Venezuela, the biggest oil producer in Latin America, has a "socialist" and "anti-American" president (Hugo Chávez) in power who has made it clear that he does not want to take orders from the US; although he continues to sell us a large supply of oil. In short, we are in Colombia to secure the right-wing regime and crush the leftist guerillas (the FARC).

2) Plan Colombia is a form of corporate welfare for companies belonging to the "military industrial complex." Big corporations, that are also big campaign contributors, are making a lot of money by selling their pesticides, helicopters, guns, and even their soldiers (like in Iraq we are sending "private contractors" to fight the FARC) to the US government, which in turn sends the soldiers and equipment to Colombia.

In addition to the program's huge cost to the American taxpayer, its failure to reduce drug trafficking and consumption, and its aiding drug traffickers, the documentary argues that this program has essentially implicated the US in terrible human rights violations. The paramilitaries have committed all sorts of abuses, not only against the FARC but also against the civilian population in Colombia. Through illegal kidnapping, torture and murder the paramilitaries have been able to intimidate the rural population. They want to create an environment in which people are afraid of challenging the right-wing government. Not only have international human rights groups deplored the actions of the (US supported) Colombian paramilitaries, but it is causing a internal refugee crisis, as poor peasants are flocking to the cities out fear of the paramilitary.

Although the documentary makes it clear that the FARC has had its hand in drug trafficking and human rights abuses, since we are not funding the FARC, this is not "our" responsibility. The question this documentary poses is: Should we continue spending billions of US tax dollars to fund the paramilitary (which commits terrible human rights abuses) to secure the Colombian oil supply and provide corporate welfare to the defense industries, and should we continue destroying the environment to make sure there is a market for Monsantos's toxic pesticides?

I highly recommend this documentary to anyone interested in a better understanding what's going on in Colombia. The producers are independent filmmakers (Gerard Ungerman & Audrey Brohy) who produce well-researched and engaging documentaries. I also recommend their "Hidden Wars of Desert Storm" (about the Gulf War) and "Peru: Between the Hammer & the Anvil" (about the war between the Peruvian government and Sendero Luminoso). Their most recent documentary, which I have not yet seen is "The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror.""
If that Enron doc. made you mad.....
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 10/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"then this will really get you upset too! The US is spraying poor Colombian farmers and Amazonian lands with herbicides. They put all this money into destroying the plants, rather than putting American citizens into rehab programs. The U.S. looks the other way as paramilitary groups kill civilians. The U.S. care more about Colombian oil than the people. Afro-Colombians are especially targeted. It was great seeing progressive American leaders like Janice Schakowsky and John Conyers being interviewed. I almost cried hearing the late Senator Wellstone speak. This is a documentary that progressives and Latinos/as must see. Foreigners who resent American policy may particularly enjoy this work. This documentary gives you the option of hearing it in English or Spanish. This was a powerful, eye-opening work!"
I can also support what the other reviewer has already state
chiara adina cerweny | wellington, NZ | 01/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The documentary provides you with a glimpse on who's pulling the strings in Colombia and why. I consider myself as an "international person" who has been raised and educated in Europe, studied in the US, currently studies under a Colombian language teacher and is based in Oceania now. Growing up on the "good old continent" you do not learn a lot about political development,occurings and present groups and power structures in Latin America, partly because Europeans have to cover a lot of their own endless wars that took place during the last 1000 years, partly because the overall political situation in Latin America is not that transparent and obvious in general. This documentation not only reveals the dynamics of - to an European - confusing political structures, such as the military,paramilitaries and guerillias,who they are and what they want (political goals), it also leaves you shaking your head about the international communities that allow that "pseudo interventions" (first feed the "enemy",then oficially fight "the country's politics" under false pretenses(drugs),so basically you get what you want (oil) and do not need to bother about the "victims": innocent civilians). It's sad yet still amazing that all of this can still take place in the 21th century where the international focus (on many sides) seems to be to fight for morality while at the same time abuse this term to neglet the fundamental meaning of this word and the ethnics behind it.

But you are not left with a burdening feeling of desperate anger, victimized and unable to do nothing. there are several online resources you can check out.

And finally,buying this DVD means also supporting the filmakers who do care enough to investigate, interview various experts and officials to provide you with a detailed picture that not only includes politics but also treats the devestating effects the spraying has on the Colombian ecosystem and it's people.

I recommend this DVD for personal political education and discernment."
Plan Colombia: Cashing in on the Drug War Failure
Carlos E. Tejada | Washington, DC, USA | 02/15/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)

"It`s a partial outdated version of the reality. It tried to look real, honest and actual by having several interviews, but those interviews only shows one part of the reality. The people selected to be presented were carefully selected to show only one part of the history. They did not interviewed anyone from the government, nor people that received benefits from the program, or simply, common people in Colombia that has a better perception of the country, that feels safer because of the Plan. They are a lot more than those presented in this video. Plan Colombia has several faces, not all of them are good, but one reality is that my country is a lot better now, than it was before it. Other interested parts of Plan Colombia aren`t well explained such us where the money relly goes...."