The American Interest
Policy, Politics & Culture
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Picking Up the Pieces Colombia’s Catastrophic Success

The U.S. government’s Plan Colombia worked almost despite itself.

Published on December 19, 2013

Several years ago the Colombian government launched a witty advertising campaign: “Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay.” The ads were aimed at luring foreign tourists who had shunned the country due to its well-deserved reputation for drugs and violence. Next to the iconic but fictional coffee farmer Juan Valdez, Pablo Escobar was probably the best-known Colombian outside the country. Although the notorious drug-trafficker from the provincial city of Medellín had been dead more than a dozen years, the ad campaign still had a lot of explaining to do.

But perhaps the time has come...