Two days in February Hernán Giraldo gets away with it
Feb 082006

Here are a few quick observations on the Bush administration’s proposed aid to Latin America in 2007. Don’t expect too much detail because at this early stage, we only have information from one document: the State Department’s bare-bones summary of its “Function 150” (foreign affairs) request.

(If you’re interested, more detailed information will be available in about a week when the State Department issues its 1,000-page Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations; then in April, when the State Department’s narcotics bureau releases its own detailed budget justification; on April 15, when the Defense Department must submit a newly required report on its own counter-narcotics aid; and in April or May when the State and Defense Departments release a detailed report on foreign military training in 2005. Links to these and other reports will always be here.)

1. Aid to Colombia will be largely unchanged in 2007, as expected. We estimate that Colombia would get about $724 million under the Bush administration’s plan for 2007. This would be about $17 million less than what Colombia received in 2006 – but since this is an estimate, we could be off by about that much. It is nonetheless safe to say that aid to Colombia is not growing.

The most notable things about the Colombia request are those that do not appear. Funding for the so-called “airbridge denial” program – the effort to interdict suspicious aircraft, which had been given its own budget line in the 2005 and 2006 requests – has been “zeroed out” for 2007, and probably lumped together with Colombia’s existing aid. Non-military aid money does not increase, which means that no big plans are afoot to fund paramilitaries’ demobilization and reintegration. President Uribe’s mid-2005 request for $150 million in additional aid for spray planes, helicopters and boats seems to have been all but forgotten.

2. Elsewhere in the Andes, the drug war is in full retreat. Colombia’s neighbors are to see a 23% cut in their “Andean Counterdrug Initiative” aid, both military and economic, from 2005 levels:

Andean Counterdrug Initiative aid to Colombia’s neighbors (millions of $)

 

2005

2006, estimate

2007, request

Change 2005-2007

Bolivia military/police

48,608

42,570

35,000

-13,608

-28%

Bolivia economic

41,664

36,630

31,000

-10,664

-26%

Bolivia total

90,272

79,200

66,000

-24,272

-27%

Brazil total

8,928

5,940

4,000

-4,928

-55%

Ecuador military/police

10,912

8,375

8,900

-2,012

-18%

Ecuador economic

14,880

11,425

8,400

-6,480

-44%

Ecuador total

25,792

19,800

17,300

-8,492

-33%

Panama total

5,952

4,455

4,000

-1,952

-33%

Peru military/police

61,504

58,410

56,000

-5,504

-9%

Peru economic

53,866

48,510

42,500

-11,366

-21%

Peru total

115,370

106,920

98,500

-16,870

-15%

Venezuela total

2,976

2,229

1,000

-1,976

-66%

Total

249,290

218,544

190,800

-58,490

-23%

The Andean Counterdrug Initiative account is the main source of drug-war aid to Colombia’s neighbors. All of these countries have seen their counter-drug assistance rise steadily since the mid-1990s. It is remarkable, then, to see their aid levels decrease so rapidly.

The cut owes chiefly to the lack of money in the U.S. budget, as the federal deficit approaches 4 percent of GDP. However, some countries – including Colombia – have been saved from the ax because the Bush administration feels they are essential to the “war on terror” or other key interests. It speaks volumes that these countries’ importance to U.S. counter-narcotics efforts is not enough to save them from across-the-board cuts. The drug war – which wasn’t working anyway – is being put on the back burner.

Yesterday, Bolivia’s Evo Morales called on Washington to reconsider, saying “I want to ask publicly that the U.S. government revise its position and join together to try for zero drug trafficking.” It is not clear yet exactly which programs for Bolivia are to be cut, though eradication (which Morales opposes) and alternative development are good guesses.

Though Colombia is not increasing and the rest of the Andes is getting cut, the State Department will insist that the overall request for the Andean region remains almost unchanged. Indeed, they are seeking $721.5 million for the Andean Counterdrug Initiative in 2007, only $13 million less than what Congress appropriated for this account in 2006. But the State Department has chosen to cut aid to Colombia’s neighbors in order to make room for a $65.7 million “Critical Flight Safety Program.”

This program will pay for repairs to over 200 planes and helicopters that State’s anti-drug bureau uses for its operations, such as fumigation and transportation. It is not really aid to the Andes, since the State Department (with its contractors) owns and operates the planes. State had sought $40 million for the “Critical Flight Safety Program” in its 2006 request, but it was not popular in Congress. The Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee refused to fund it at all. (“The Committee provides no funding for the Critical Flight Safety Program,” reads its June 2005 report.) The full Congress ultimately recommended $30 million for 2006, which State plans to spend. But they want to more than double that amount in 2007, without increasing their overall request for the Andes. The result is seen in the cuts to Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

The Andean Counterdrug Initiative is not these countries’ only source of aid. However, nearly all of Colombia’s neighbors – Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela – are subject to a total cutoff in non-drug military aid because of the “American Servicemembers’ Protection Act.” This 2002 law cuts off much military and economic aid to countries that do not grant U.S. soldiers on their soil immunity from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. In all, at least twelve countries in Latin America currently have aid frozen for this reason.

3. Mexico is the latest country to have its non-drug military aid slashed by the “American Servicemembers’ Protection Act.” In 2006, Mexico was to receive $1.1 million in military-training funds through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, making it one of Latin America’s top six IMET recipients. For the first time, Mexico was also to get $2.5 million in 2006 military aid through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which provides grants of weapons and equipment. But in October 2005, Mexico ratified the Rome Statute, making it a signatory to the International Criminal Court. So until Mexico grants immunity from the ICC to U.S. soldiers – which is hugely unlikely, given Mexican sensitivities about U.S. bullying – its IMET and FMF funds are frozen. Indeed, they are “zeroed out” in the 2007 request. Add this to a rapidly growing list of grievances currently roiling U.S.-Mexican relations.

4. The State Department isn’t even trying to get Foreign Military Financing for Guatemala this year. In its 2006 request, the State Department included $500,000 in FMF for Guatemala. This would have been the first time Guatemala had received military aid through this account since 1990, when it was cut off after Guatemalan troops killed a U.S. citizen. Congress shot down this request last year, however, citing the Guatemalan military’s lack of progress in complying with its commitments under the 1996 peace accords. This year, Guatemala does not appear in the 2007 FMF request.

5. Aid to Latin America through the three main traditional economic-aid accounts is to drop 17 percent from 2005 to 2007, from 555 million to 462 million. These economic-aid programs – Development Assistance (DA), Child Survival and Health (CSH), and Economic Support Funds (ESF) – are designed to help the poorest citizens of the poorest countries. (Colombia, for instance, is usually considered too high-income to receive DA, CSH or ESF.) But as the table below indicates, these programs are being slashed heavily as the Bush administration moves its priorities elsewhere.

Two big, new economic-aid programs do benefit four countries in the hemisphere: Haiti and Guyana are to get over $80 million in funding to fight HIV-AIDS, and Honduras and Nicaragua are receiving big multi-year economic-aid packages through the “Millennium Challenge” program, which offers assistance to poor countries that are at least minimally well-governed. However, note in the table below that Honduras and Nicaragua are to see deep cuts in their “traditional” economic aid in 2007, which will undercut much of what they gain from the new “Millennium Challenge” money.

Combined totals, DA / CSH / ESF (thousands of dollars)

Country

2005

2006

2007

Change 2005-2007

Dominican Republic

23,447

21,766

29,347

5,900

25%

Brazil

12,189

11,076

13,985

1,796

15%

Guyana

3,572

3,960

4,000

428

12%

Guatemala

28,087

26,194

31,353

3,266

12%

Paraguay

7,907

9,249

8,236

329

4%

Cuba opposition

8,928

10,890

9,000

72

1%

Bolivia

32,617

32,510

30,689

-1,928

-6%

Peru

30,002

26,618

25,736

-4,266

-14%

Haiti

103,930

99,001

88,955

-14,975

-14%

Honduras

34,048

31,964

25,460

-8,588

-25%

Ecuador

18,510

9,548

13,644

-4,866

-26%

El Salvador

34,230

30,655

24,905

-9,325

-27%

Mexico

31,681

27,083

22,002

-9,679

-31%

Venezuela

2,432

0

1,500

-932

-38%

Jamaica

16,761

14,051

10,201

-6,560

-39%

Nicaragua

38,228

31,908

22,657

-15,571

-41%

Panama

8,101

5,325

3,180

-4,921

-61%

Regional programs

120,216

124,253

97,130

-23,086

-19%

Total

554,886

516,051

461,980

-92,906

-17%

One Response to “Aid to Latin America in the 2007 request”

  1. Rainer Cale Says:

    About one fourth of the $740 million for 2006 is probably tagged for ADAM and MIDAS, the two largest USAID projects in the world right now (I think).

    If you look at the RFP or TOR for these projects, you’ll get plenty more examples of contradictory Colombia policy (a la “2 days in February”). There is talk of strengthening grassroots democratic processes, increasing transparency, broadening spaces of public participation in local government, etc. It is not new that State Dept or Bush Administration talks this talk, but now there is significant money behind the words.

    Also ambiguous–and I would have liked to hear this brought up in Adam’s meeting with Southcom–is Uribe’s Demobilization program. What’s that all about? On the one hand I agree at least partly with Human Rights Watch (”Smoke and Mirrors”) that the process is a flagrant attempt to bring paramilitary power into the “legitimate” political life of the country. On the other hand, it’s clearly not that simple since there are winners and losers. Some high AUC warlords are being brought very low, threatened with extradiction, etc. The whole thing is too big of a gamble–both for Uribe and for the paras–to be masterminded by a single group or agenda. It also presents a big window of opportunity for progressive groups, not to mention the FARC, to advance their agendas. It is said that 16,000 paramilitaries have demobilized to date. HRW reports that most of these units maintain their coherence and command structures after demobilization, but still– 16,000! Total AUC strength is estimated at 20,000. We are talking about a strategic reduction in forces here (assuming the reported numbers are accurate, which they may not be).

    With so many mixed or unclear signals and “unknowns” (both of the known and unknown variety), it is no wonder that Washington policy is tripping over itself.

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