Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Lourdes Gouveia


The objective of this thesis is to determine whether or not Plan Colombia effectively addresses the problems and needs of rural Colombia. The classical views of Marx, Lenin and Chayanov, the Theories of Development and the postulates of neoliberal ideology are discussed as the theoretical context within which Plan Colombia emerged. This thesis was derived through a process of archival research, interviews (N=8) and direct observation and participation in peasant demonstrations, which occurred primarily during the summer of 2002. A general review of Colombian rural development models (haciendas, plantations, Import Substitution Industrialization, agrarian reform, Export Promotion Stragies and neoliberal postulates) is made. Additionally, an analysis of the socio-political events ("La Violencia," the National Front, paramilitary and guerrilla groups), and the drug economy is included. This historical analysis frames the background that allowed the creation of Plan Colombia. Plan Colombia originated as an investment initiative designed to achieve peace by improving the economic, social and environmental conditions of Colombia. However, the Plan was altered by the Clinton administration and again by the U.S. Congress. The Plan was implemented as an antinarcotics and counterinsurgency strategy supporting neoliberal postulates. The U.S. approved $1.3 billion for this version of the Plan. The programs addressing illicit crop production include strategies for the forced eradication of illicit crops, the voluntary eradication of illicit crops, and options for alternative development. Other programs include: Families in Action, Works for Peace, Forest Ranger Families, Humanitarian Attention, Human Rights and IHR, etc. Even though a discussion of the military component of Plan Colombia is beyond the scope of this work, it is mentioned briefly because of its profound impact on the rural communities. Plan Colombia is an ineffective response to Colombia’s rural problems and needs as it addresses the symptoms of these difficulties rather than the problems themselves. In fact, some of these strategies are producing a negative effect on the rural communities, as exemplified by the increase in the levels of population displacement. There are several alternatives or modifications to Plan Colombia being considered by various groups in Colombia. These alternatives include "Paz Colombia," as well as efforts to modify the free trade agreements now under discussion.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Masters in Sociology University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Jasney Cogua December, 2003