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The Colombia Plan and U.S. Foreign Policy: 'There is no such thing as a plug and play'

Pedro Szekely
Jardin, Colombia, a small town in southwest Colombia.

After three years of negotiating, Colombia’s government is set to sign a peace agreement with the FARC rebels later this month. The treaty could put an end to the armed conflict in the country, which has been going on for more than 50 years.

As of 2000, Colombia was in danger of becoming a narco-state, a country controlled by drug lords.

Ramon Escobar is a Milwaukee-native and UWM graduate, who previously worked at the State Department as the Colombia Desk Officer and Special Assistant to the Special Envoy for the Colombian Peace Process. He believes that U.S. intervention and Plan Colombia are a major factor in the nation’s turnaround.

Despite the country's rising prospects, the effects of the conflict and infamous drug lords like Pablo Escobar have taken their toll. Ramon Escobar feels it's important to highlight the United States' successes in Colombia, especially amid U.S. conflicts in other parts of the world.

“What we need to do now is what President Obama recently did. He held a meeting and a celebration for fifteen years of a strong U.S.-Colombia, bi-partisan relationship in Washington. Celebrating Plan Colombia and the success that it's brought, and really sort of raising the profile of Colombia's remarkable transformation. From being a near-failed state in 2000, to being a potential member of the OECD," says Escobar. 

Escobar’s work extends far beyond Colombia. He has experience working in Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Iraq and Bolivia.

In his current position as a Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, he uses his experiences to teach his students about the complexity of international relations.

“There is no such thing as a plug and play. You can’t just pull a policy that worked in one country and just plug it in another country. It’s bound to fail because there’s so many other exogenous factors that play into execution of any individual policy.”

Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2016.