Hernán Giraldo gets away with it Manual eradication in parks: set up to fail?
Feb 102006

Yesterday’s New York Times article on Bolivia ("Bush Budget Would Cut Military Aid to Bolivia by 96 Percent") creates a few impressions about U.S. military aid trends in Bolivia that need further clarification. Since I’m cited in the article, I’ve received a number of e-mails indicating a need to clear up these impressions.

1. All military and police aid to Bolivia is not going down by 96 percent in 2007. In particular, counter-drug aid is being cut much less drastically. Our best guess (since at this early stage much aid must still be estimated based on past years) is that 2007 military aid would be $9.3 million lower than 2006. That’s an 18 percent drop in military aid from 2006 to 2007, and a 25 percent drop from 2005 to 2007. It’s still steep, but not as radical as 96 percent.

 

2004

2005

2006, est.

2007, req.

2007 minus
2006

2007 minus 2005

Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI / INC)

44.61

48.61

42.57

35.00

-7.57

-18%

-13.61

-28%

Foreign Military Financing (FMF)

3.98

0.00

0.99

0.03

-0.97

-97%

0.03

International Military Education and Training (IMET)

0.59

0.00

0.79

0.05

-0.75

-94%

0.05

Counter-drug aid through the Defense budget (“Sec. 1004”)

5.45

5.45

5.45

5.45

0.00

0%

0.00

0%

Counter-Terrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP)

0.02

0.02

0.02

0.02

0.00

0%

0.00

0%

Regional Defense Centers (CHDS)

0.40

0.40

0.40

0.40

0.00

0%

0.00

0%

Aviation Leadership Program (ALP)

0.01

0.01

0.01

0.01

0.00

0%

0.00

0%

Enhanced International Peacekeeping Capabilities (EIPC)

0.02

0.02

0.02

0.02

0.00

0%

0.00

0%

Total

55.08

54.51

50.25

40.97

-9.28

-18%

-13.54

-25%

 

Numbers underlined and italicized are estimates drawn by repeating last available year.

The “American Servicemembers’ Protection Act” (ASPA), the 2002 law that bans non-drug military aid to countries that don’t exempt U.S. troops from the International Criminal Court, forces cuts in two programs, IMET and FMF. But the ASPA stops neither U.S. military aid through other programs nor the presence of U.S. military personnel on Bolivian soil (or that of any other banned country).

2. The ASPA would reduce IMET and FMF to Bolivia by 96 percent between 2006 and 2007, according to the aid request. But these programs were already cut completely in 2005. They may in fact be zero again this year, unless the White House decides to offer Bolivia a temporary waiver of the ASPA sanctions, which it can do under the law. Bolivia got a waiver in 2004 when it signed an immunity agreement, but the waiver was lifted when the Bolivian Congress did not ratify the agreement.

A waiver for 2006 might explain why the State Department estimates IMET and FMF rising from zero in 2005 to $1.78 million in 2006; if the waiver were to expire in 2007, that would explain why the aid request foresees them going back down to $80,000 next year. (Neither the New York Times reporter nor I have been able to get a straight answer from the State Department about whether Bolivia is indeed getting a waiver for 2006.)

3. Bolivia is one of twelve Western Hemisphere countries in the same situation. The twelve Latin American and Caribbean countries whose aid is cut by ASPA are Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. Chile, which has signed onto the ICC but not ratified the Rome Statute, may join the list sometime after Michelle Bachelet assumes office.

Bolivia is not being singled out. And the ASPA aid cutoff would have taken place even if Evo Morales had not been elected.

4. Bolivia will continue to send students to the former School of the Americas. In the ten years between 1996 and 2005, Bolivia sent 612 students to the School of the Americas and its successor at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). The Times article leaves the impression that Bolivian military personnel will no longer be able to attend the controversial facility due to ASPA restrictions.

Yet even with its IMET and FMF funding “zeroed out” in 2005, Bolivia still sent 30 students to WHINSEC, and the school expects 61 Bolivian students in 2006. These students are able to attend thanks to funding programs that are not subject to ASPA sanctions: two “pots of money” for counter-narcotics (The Andean Counterdrug Initiative and the Defense Department’s counter-narcotics account) and one for counter-terrorism, a “Counter-Terrorism Fellowship Program” created within the defense budget in 2002. With those funding sources largely intact, we can expect to see Bolivian officers at Fort Benning for the foreseeable future.

These may appear to be minor quibbles, but I did want to clarify them before people began celebrating (or sounding the alarms about) a sharp break in U.S.-Bolivian military-to-military ties. There is some distancing and the budget is being cut significantly, which will likely cause the Bolivian officer corps to complain. But it is not a 96 percent cutoff.

However, the main argument of the Times piece – that the reduced aid may anger some factions of Bolivia’s military and complicate relations with President Morales – is fundamentally sound and I agree that it is a risk.

On the other hand, it could go the other way: if the U.S. defense establishment is forced to cut back ties to the Bolivian military, than it will lose “influence” and “leverage” with Bolivian officers and be unable to use them as a potential political counterweight to a “leftist” civilian government. Which is just fine.

2 Responses to “Military aid to Bolivia”

  1. eduardo Says:

    Before President Morales moved into the Presidential residence, it was
    reported that a security sweep had been done. They were specifically
    looking for recording devices and other surveillance tools. During the
    transition, the new government reported that the outgoing administration
    did not want to hand over some of the intelligence files, which surely
    had a fairly thick report on Morales and many in the new government.
    It’s hard to know just how much influence the U.S. had with previous
    governments.

  2. John Says:

    Nice job on the clarification. I would like to add that the NYT’s article also attributed this cut in aid almost strictly to Morales’ victory as president and the “immunity” the US was attempting to get for its soldiers…which is not true as we know (and the Bolivians too) that the actual reduction in the program happened a few years ago (with 12 other countries) but only now have the “things” that Bolivia “bought” stopped coming down the pipline, so it “seems” that only now did the US stop military aid. Thanks again.

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