Last Updated:1/26/01
The Contents of the Colombia Aid Package

  • Text of the law
  • Text of the conference committee report

65 Percent Goes to Colombia | Overview of Colombia's share | Conditions on the Aid | Reporting Requirements

I. Sixty-five Percent of the Package is Aid to Colombia

Though the aid package totals $1.319 billion, only 65 percent of that amount -- $860.3 million -- is assistance for Colombia. The other 35 percent is assistance for neighboring countries and increases for U.S. agencies' Andean region anti-drug operations.

Aid package total
$1,319.1 million
- Upgrades to U.S. overseas "Forward Operating Locations"
($61.3 million for Eloy Alfaro Airport, Manta, Ecuador; $10.3 million for Reina Beatrix Airport, Aruba; $43.9 million for Hato International Airport, Curacao; $1.1 million for planning and design)
- $116.5 million
- Defense Department Andean ridge intelligence-gathering
- $7 million
- Classified Defense Department intelligence program
- $55.3 million
- Radar upgrades for U.S. Customs Service P-3 aircraft
- $68 million
- Treasury Department "Drug Kingpin" tracking program
- $2 million
- Defense Department "Airborne Reconnaissance Low" aircraft
- $30 million
- Aid for Peru
($32 million for interdiction)
- $32 million
- Aid for Bolivia
($25 million for interdiction, $85 million for alternative development)
- $110 million
- Aid for Ecuador
($12 million for interdiction; $8 million for alternative development)
- $20 million
- Aid for other countries
- $18 million
Aid remaining for Colombia
$860.3 million

II. An overview of Colombia's $860.3 million

Military assistance


Police assistance


Alternative development


Aid to the displaced


Human rights


Judicial reform


Law enforcement / rule of law






The aid for Colombia in the package is almost exactly three-quarters military and police aid, with the rest going to alternative development, administration of justice, judicial reform, assistance for displaced persons, human rights and peace. To this new assistance must be added $330 million for ongoing, previously planned programs during 2000 and 2001, nearly all of it police and military aid.



II. A. Military Assistance

The aid package will provide Colombia's army, navy and air force with $519.2 million in new assistance. Of this total, $416.9 million will fund the "Push Into Southern Colombia," a Colombian Army operation in which three newly created battalions are to create secure conditions for police anti-drug activities in the guerrilla-dominated southern departments of Putumayo and Caquetá. The remaining $102.3 million will fund the armed forces' air, river, and ground interdiction operations, military human rights training, and military justice reforms.

The biggest single item in the military assistance category is $328 million for helicopters. The new counternarcotics battalions are to receive sixteen UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters at a cost of $208 million. (An additional two Blackhawks are to go to the Colombian National Police at a cost of $26 million.) The battalions will also receive thirty UH-1H Huey helicopters, upgraded to the "Super Huey" configuration; the Colombian National Police are to receive another twelve Hueys. The $120 million price tag for the Hueys includes maintenance and operation costs for these helicopters and for eighteen more that were provided to Colombia's Army in late 1999. This configuration of helicopters is a compromise between previous versions of the aid package, as the table indicates:

Original Clinton Administration proposal
30 for Army
House of Representatives version
(28 for Army
2 for Police)
Senate version
Final version, House-Senate Conference Committee
(16 for Army
2 for Police)
(30 for Army
12 for Police)

The helicopters, logistical support, intelligence, training and other aid for the "push into southern Colombia" will mainly benefit the three U.S.-created Colombian Army counternarcotics batallions to be headquartered at a base in Tres Esquinas, on the border between Putumayo and Caquetá. Guerrillas, particularly the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), have a heavy presence in this zone. The battalions will be charged with securing this zone so that police drug-eradication operations may occur without risk of guerrilla attack.

II. B. Police Assistance

The Colombian National Police (CNP), previously the largest recipients of U.S. assistance, are to receive $115.6 million through the aid package. The aid to the CNP is for a wide variety of items, ranging from helicopter upgrades and new spray aircraft to training and ammunition. The largest single police aid item is a grant of two new UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, valued at $26 million. Other police forces, such as the Judicial Police and Customs Police, will receive an additional $7.5 million.

The CNP, particularly its counternarcotics unit (the DANTI), will continue to get at least $100 million each year in assistance through regular channels like the State Department's International Narcotics Control (INC) program or emergency counternarcotics drawdowns. This aid funds the police's normal anti-drug activities, among them illicit crop eradication, interdiction, and investigations.

II. C. Alternative Development

The aid package gives Colombia $68.5 million in new funding for alternative development and crop substitution programs. This figure includes $10 million to aid peasants who will be forcibly displaced by the "push into southern Colombia."

The $68.5 million in the House-Senate Conference Committee's final version of the package is significantly less than the amount requested by the Clinton Administration ($106.5 million), approved by the House ($108.0 million), and approved by the Senate ($95.0 million). In fact, the "Plan Colombia" aid package provides more alternative development funding to Bolivia ($85 million) than to Colombia (see "aid for Bolivia" in the first table on this page).

Alternative development programs in Colombia are to receive an additional $5 million per year in 2000 and 2001 through the regular budget of the State Department's International Narcotics Control (INC) program.

II. D. Assistance for Internally Displaced Persons

The aid package includes in its "alternative development" section $22.5 million in aid for the more than 1.5 million people who have been forcibly displaced by Colombia's conflict. (The House-Senate conference committee cut $2 million from aid to the displaced; the administration's aid proposal, the House version and the Senate version had all called for $24.5 million.) An additional $15 million will provide emergency assistance to the more than 30,000 people who will be forcibly displaced by the U.S.-funded "push into southern Colombia."

II. E. Human Rights

The aid package allocates $51 million for several initiatives to improve human rights protections in Colombia. Items include the establishment of joint human rights units made up of prosecutors and judicial police ($25 million), witness and judicial security for human rights cases ($10 million), support for state and non-governmental human rights institutions ($7 million), and support for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights field office in Bogotá ($1 million). The human rights allocation triples the amount requested by the Clinton Administration ($15 million) and approved by the House ($17 million), more closely resembling the Senate's version ($53.5 million).

II. F. Judicial Reform, Administration of Justice, and Peace

The aid package includes $61 million for programs to streamline Colombia's judicial system, combat money laundering and corruption, and support ongoing peace talks. The "peace" funding is a $3 million grant to offer conflict-resolution training seminars to government negotiators.

III. Conditions on the aid

The aid package law sets several conditions and restrictions on how the aid may be given and used. Many are related to human rights or to congressional concerns about U.S. involvement in Colombia's conflict.

III. A. Certification (Section 3201)

Once the bill becomes law (July 13, 2000), and again at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2001 (October 1, 2000), the Secretary of State must certify to Congress that the following conditions have been met:

  1. The President of Colombia has issued a written order requiring trials in civilian courts for all Colombian Armed Forces personnel who face credible allegations of gross human rights violations;
  2. The Commander-General of Colombia's armed forces is promptly suspending from duty all military personnel who face credible allegations of gross human rights violations or of assisting paramilitary groups;
  3. Colombia's armed forces are cooperating fully with civilian authorities' investigations and prosecutions of military personnel who face credible allegations of gross human rights violations;
  4. The Colombian government is vigorously prosecuting paramilitary leaders and members, and any Colombian military personnel who aid or abet paramilitary groups, in civilian courts;
  5. The Colombian government has adopted a strategy to eliminate all coca and poppy production by the year 2005. This strategy must include alternative development programs, manual eradication, aerial spraying of herbicides, "tested, environmentally safe" mycoherbicides (fungi that attack drug crops), and the destruction of narcotics-production laboratories; and
  6. Colombia's armed forces are developing and deploying a Judge Advocate General Corps in their field units to investigate misconduct among military personnel.

No aid may be provided until this certification is issued. This condition is essentially optional, however. It may be skipped entirely if the President determines that the "national security interest" demands it. This waiver was exercised for all but the first condition in an August 23, 2000 presidential determination (see also the White House's "memorandum of justification").

In January 2001, the White House decided a second human rights certification/waiver was not necessary. Though certification decisions were not made, the White House issued a report on January 19, 2001 describing progress toward the certification goals.

III. B. Limitation on U.S. Personnel in Colombia (the "Troop Cap") (Section 3204(b))

Funds in the aid package cannot be used to assign U.S. military personnel or civilian contractors in Colombia if their assignment would cause more than 500 troops or 300 contractors to be present in Colombia at one time. This limitation will not apply if (a) the President submits a report to Congress requesting that it be lifted or (b) the "troop cap" must be exceeded to carry out emergency evacuations or rescue missions. The "troop cap" may be exceeded for ninety days if U.S. military personnel are involved in hostilities, or if their imminent involvement in hostilities "is clearly indicated by the circumstances."

III. C. Declaration of Support (Section 3207)

Assistance may not be given to Colombia until the Secretary of State certifies to Congress that the U.S. government supports the Colombian government's political and military efforts, consistent with human rights conditions, to resolve its conflicts with guerrillas and paramilitary groups.

III. D. Other conditions

  • Future aid to Plan Colombia that (like the current package) occurs outside the normal budget appropriations process will not be funded until (a) the President submits a report to Congress requesting the new funds, and (b) Congress approves the request by enacting a joint resolution. (Section 3204(a))
  • If any helicopters provided with this funding are used to aid or abet paramilitary groups, then those helicopters must be returned to the United States.
  • Funds in the aid package may not be used to issue visas to any individuals credibly alleged to have provided direct or indirect support to the FARC or ELN guerrillas or the AUC paramilitary group. (Section 3205)
  • Funds in the aid package may not be used for population planning programs. (Section 3206)

IV. Reporting Requirements

The law requires the administration to submit the following reports about how the aid is provided.

IV. A. Human Rights and Peace (Report language)

(The text of the September 11 report is available on this site. No March report was released, but the administration submitted a "progress report" in mid-January when it decided that a second waive was unnecessary. That report is also available on this site.)

The Conference Committee's report directs the Secretary of State to submit a report within 60 days of the law's enactment (September 11), and every 180 days thereafter (March 11, 2001 and September 11, 2001) detailing the following:

  1. A description of the extent to which the Colombian Armed Forces have suspended from duty personnel who face credible allegations of gross human rights violations, and the extent to which these personnel have been brought to justice in Colombia's civilian courts. This must include a description of the charges brought and the disposition of each case.
  2. An assessment of the efforts of the armed forces, the police, and the attorney-general's office to disband paramilitary groups. This assessment must include the names of Colombian Armed Forces personnel brought to justice for aiding and abetting paramilitary groups, and the names of paramilitary leaders and members who were indicted, arrested and prosecuted.
  3. A description of the extent to which the Colombian Armed Forces cooperate with civilian authorities' investigations and prosecutions of gross human rights violations allegedly committed by military personnel. This description must include the number of military personnel under investigation who are suspended from duty while the investigation proceeds.
  4. A description of the extent to which attacks against human rights defenders, government prosecutors and investigators, and civilian judicial officials are being investigated and prosecuted.
  5. An estimate of the number of Colombian civilians displaced as a result of the "push into southern Colombia," and a description of actions to address their social and economic needs.
  6. A description of actions taken by the U.S. and Colombian governments to support a negotiated settlement of Colombia's conflict.

IV. B. Regional Strategy (Section 3202)

(The text of this report is available on this site.)

Within 60 days of the law's enactment (September 11, 2000), the President must submit a report to Congress on the United States' current policy and strategy for its counternarcotics assistance for Colombia and its neighbors. This report, which was submitted on October 26, was to address:

  1. The key objectives of the United States' counternarcotics strategy in the Andean region, including a detailed description of the benchmarks that will be used to measure progress toward these objectives;
  2. The actions the United States must take to support and achieve these objectives, including a scheule and cost estimates;
  3. The U.S. role in the Colombian government's efforts to deal with illegal drug production;
  4. The U.S. role in the Colombian government's efforts to deal with guerrilla insurgencies and paramilitary groups;
  5. How the Colombia strategy relates to and affects the United States' strategy in Colombia's neighbors;
  6. How the Colombia strategy relates to and affects the United States' strategy for fulfilling counternarcotics goals worldwide;
  7. The United States' strategy and schedule for supporting the efforts of Colombia and its neighbors to defend the rule of law and to impede the cultivation, production, smuggling, and sales of drugs; and
  8. The schedule for making Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) fully operational, including cost estimates, a description of each FOL's potential capabilities, and an explanation of how FOLs fit into the overall anti-drug strategy. (FOLs are arrangements that allow U.S. military personnel to use foreign airports to conduct anti-drug surveillance and intelligence flights. Three such locations exist or are being established: Manta, Ecuador; Aruba and Curacao; and Comalapa, El Salvador.)

IV. C. Overall Use of Funding (Report language)

(The text of this report is available on this site.)

The Secretary of State must report on the proposed uses of funding for each program, project or activity in the aid package. This report must be submitted to both houses' Appropriations Committees within 30 days of the bill's signing (by August 12, 2000). No funds may be spent until twenty days after the report is received. This report was submitted to Congress on July 27, which means that aid may go forward as early as August 16 (provided that the certification described in section IV.A. has been issued or waived by then).

IV. D. Report on support for Plan Colombia (Section 3204(e))

(The text of this report is available on this site.)

Every six months beginning on June 1, 2001, the President must submit a report to Congress detailing and itemizing the costs incurred by all government agencies for their support of Plan Colombia during the previous six months.

IV. E. Reports on U.S. Presence

(Section 3204(f)) Every two months beginning within 90 days of the law's enactment (October 11, 2000), the President must submit a report to Congress detailing the number, locations, activities, and lengths of assignment for all temporary and permanent U.S. military personnel present in Colombia, and for all U.S. civilian contractors present in Colombia.

(Report language) The Conference Committee's report directs the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict to provide a monthly report the Congressional defense committees detailing, for the previous month: (a) the names of private-sector firms providing support to Plan Colombia; (b) the number of American citizens located overseas carrying out contracts to support Plan Colombia; and (c) the numer of military personnel and U.S. government employees operating in Colombia and the Andean region in support of Plan Colombia.

IV. F. Defense Department Funding and Rules of Engagement (Report language)

The Conference Committee's report requires the Defense Secretary to issue a report within 30 days of the law's enactment (August 12) on the proposed uses of all Defense Department funds to support Plan Colombia. This report must "describe steps taken to ensure the maximum force protection of U.S. personnel while deployed in Colombia, including their rules of engagement."

IV. G. Herbicides (Report language)

(The text of this report is available on this site.)

The Conference Committee's report directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress within sixty days of the law's enactment (September 11) detailing the effects on human health and the safety of herbicides used on illegal crops with funds from the aid package.

IV. H. Extradition of Narcotics Traffickers (Section 3203)

Within six months of the law's enactment (by January 13, 2001), and every six months while Plan Colombia funds are available, the Secretary of State must submit a report to Congress (a) listing people whose extradition has been requested from countries that receive U.S. anti-drug assistance, (b) determining whether the countries are making good faith efforts to ensure that the extraditions proceed promptly, and (c) analyzing the legal obstacles to extradition and the steps being taken to overcome them.

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