This afternoon, the Obama administration made public its 2011 budget request to Congress, including its proposal for next year’s foreign assistance. This is the first “real” foreign aid request for an administration that had barely arrived in power a year ago.
Congress will use this request as the guideline for its State and Foreign Operations budget funding bill, which provides about three-quarters of all military and police assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean. (The Defense budget bill provides nearly all of the rest.)
The Obama administration’s foreign aid request differs significantly, if not radically, from what came before. For Latin America, the difference is notable, as this slideshow indicates.
(Note: estimates of military and non-military aid in the slideshow are exactly that: estimates. One program, International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE), pays for both military and economic aid, and we don’t yet know how the administration plans to divide it between those priorities. Therefore we had to estimate INCLE military and non-military aid by prorating based on previous years. Our estimate, while not exact, is likely very close.)
Here are a few things we’ve observed after entering the new aid numbers into the “Just the Facts” database.
- A sharp decrease in military and police assistance, while economic aid levels hold steady. Two-thirds of this request is non-military aid. (Keep in mind, though, that additional military aid comes through the Defense budget.)
- Reductions for the region’s two largest aid recipients, Mexico (-30%) and Colombia (-11%). With most equipment deliveries already funded, the “MÃ©rida Initiative” is winding down. Similarly, “Plan Colombia” programs are increasingly being turned over to Colombia. Most of Colombia’s aid cut comes from the State Department-managed International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement account, which funds the aerial fumigation program and the maintenance of aircraft belonging to the Colombian security forces.
- The launch of a “Caribbean Basin Security Initiative” providing citizen security and counter-drug aid to Caribbean countries.
- Notable increases in assistance, both military and economic, to Central America.
- No major increase yet in aid to earthquake-battered Haiti; after donors’ conferences conclude, more Haiti aid will likely be included in a supplemental request for 2010.