It’s time to prepare for the Bush and Uribe governments to roll out a big new framework for U.S. aid to Colombia – the long-awaited successor to â€œPlan Colombia.â€
Though no announcements have yet been issued, there is much reason to believe that a new U.S. aid plan could be revealed as early as next week.
- On Wednesday, Colombia’s ministers of defense, interior, and foreign relations presented to the BogotÃ¡ diplomatic corps a six-part â€œStrategy for Strengthening of Democracy and Social Development.â€ No publicly available document yet exists, though.
- Thomas Shannon, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Anne Patterson, the assistant secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (and former ambassador to Colombia) will be in BogotÃ¡ on Monday and Tuesday.
- Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s defense minister, will be in Washington on Thursday and Friday.
- The Bush administration will send its 2008 budget request to Congress a week from Monday. (The 2007 foreign-aid budget never got approved – the Republican-dominated Congress that exited last month basically â€œpunted,â€ passing a â€œcontinuing resolutionâ€ that continues aid at 2006 levels.)
- International donors to Colombia will be meeting in Cartagena on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Rumor has it that the new aid request will be 50 percent military aid, 50 percent economic aid. If true, this would be a huge step forward from the current 80-20 split in favor of military/police aid. Or it could be only half true – for instance, the overall request to donors worldwide would be 50-50, while the United States would be expected to provide a mostly military package as it has always done in the past.
We may know soon enough.