THE STORY OF THE PLAN COLOMBIA GRAPHICS CAMPAIGN
The Plan Colombia graphics campaign is the second in the Beehive’s trilogy about globalization in the Americas. The final illustration is the product of many conversations that took place between our collective and organizers over the spring of 2002 in Ecuador, Colombia, and the U.S. We started out learning about the devastating effects of Plan Colombia in the Andean region of South America, and situated those stories in the context of the long history of colonialism in this continent.
Plan Colombia started in 2000, as a $1.3 billion U.S. aid package to Colombia in the name of fighting the War on Drugs. Most of this package came in the form of military and police aid. A major strategy was the aerial fumigation of coca crops, spraying toxic herbicides indiscriminately over coca-producing regions. Over the next decade, up to $8 billion was sent to Colombia — and in that time, the trafficking and consumption of cocaine in the US only increased. Human rights violations in Colombia also increased. All of this has been happening in the context of an ongoing internal armed conflict; Colombia has the highest internally displaced population in the world, after decades of violence.
This graphic exposes the lie of the Drug War as a smokescreen for multinational corporation’s interests in extraction of the rich biodiversity and natural resources of the Amazon and her peoples. It is an anti-war poster that speaks in the mythology of our times – the cancerous monomyth of corporate globalization, and its antibodies of grassroots resistance.
Leafcutter ants are one of the main characters in this graphic, crawling up and down the image and cutting away pieces of the nightmare that is Plan Colombia. Everywhere they’ve made a cut, they expose the biodiversity of the region that is fighting back. At the bottom of the graphic, the ants have made their biggest cut, right through the heart of the earth — highlighting two contrasting worldviews, and revealing inspiring stories of hope, courage, and struggle in people’s daily lives.
Today, the Drug War has expanded to Central America and Mexico. Since the War on Drugs was declared in Mexico in 2006, violence and human rights abuses have dramatically increased. Since 2008, the US has spent $1.6 billion on counter narcotics, counter terrorism, and border security programs under the Mérida Initiative, which quickly became known as “Plan Mexico” after it was announced, connecting it to the failed Plan Colombia model.
We’ve toured widely with the Plan Colombia graphics campaign since its first printing, and one of our bees has worked extensively in Colombia. Read more on the Polinizaciones blog!
HOW TO USE THIS POSTER
This poster reads as a long scroll, from top to bottom. It starts in the upper left corner, with a leafcutter ant blowing a conch shell to gather people together. From there, the story begins, and the image guides you from chapter to chapter. From top to bottom, the poster tells stories of colonialism, consumerism, militarization, resource extraction, clashing worldviews, and resistance. In workshops, we often break the poster up into these chapters and ask small groups to each take one section to look at more closely. Then, we come back together and let the groups guide the storytelling, piecing the chapters together from the beginning. You can use this poster to tell specific stories of the impacts of Plan Colombia, and also expand the discussion to talk about the much bigger themes of each chapter and the current realities of the Drug War in other countries.
Learn more about how to Use Our Graphics!
PLEASE SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK!
Our Graphics Campaigns are always works in progress. Your comments and suggestions will help strengthen our education and cross-pollination strategy!