Fruit vendors in Colombia. Photo by: Luz Adriana Villa A / CC BY

The U.S. Agency for International Development  considers Colombia as a success story that the U.S. development agency wants to encourage as a model for its programs in other countries, a top official told Devex.

“Twelve years ago Colombia was described by people as a potentially failed state, and now it is among the most successful countries in the [Western] Hemisphere,” said Mark Feierstein, USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Feierstein and the agency’s chief Rajiv Shah will travel together on Monday to the Colombian capital Bogota, where Shah will meet President Juan Manuel Santos and other government officials to discuss development amid the ongoing peace process.

USAID’s assistant administrator for the region told Devex that the agency’s focus in Colombia is on assisting the government in establishing civilian control over areas newly secured by the military as part of Bogota’s efforts to neutralize FARC rebels and drug trafficking.

Feierstein highlighted that USAID will continue to support the Colombian government on the “revolutionary legislation” it is advancing, in particular granting land and other types of compensation to people displaced by conflict, and helping to demobilize former paramilitaries.

He also pointed out how Colombia is now funding a series of development initiatives that USAID used to finance, for instance an early warning system for human rights violations.

“Now they’re doing it on their own and its a model we want to encourage in other countries,” said Feierstein.

Asked about the proposed FY 2014 budget cuts for USAID programs in Colombia, the official noted that is proof of the country’s success in truly benefiting from American aid.

“President [Barack] Obama has said that the purpose of foreign assistance is to create the conditions whereby that assistance is no loner necessary, so for us, success is to reach the point when we can close down an office in a country or at least reduce our budget,” explained Feierstein.

Colombia will nevertheless continue being the second highest recipient of American non-military aid in the Western Hemisphere with $140 million, after Haiti’s $287 million, according to preliminary estimates.

Read more on U.S. aid reform online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • John Alliage Morales

    As a former Devex staff writer, John Alliage Morales covered the Americas, focusing on the world's top donor hub, Washington, and its aid community. Prior to joining Devex, John worked for a variety of news outlets including GMA, the Philippine TV network, where he conducted interviews, analyzed data, and produced in-depth stories on development and other topics.