Plan Colombia 2: prematurely crunching the numbers Highlights of the aid request for Latin America
Feb 052007

About an hour ago, the State Department released the broad outlines of its 2008 aid request. Its so-called “Function 150″ document gives us a rough, but pretty fair, estimate of what the Bush administration is asking Congress to give Colombia next year. (See the PDF file available here, and scroll down to the tables at the very end.)

The result is very disappointing. After weeks of talk about a new “social” approach to aid to Colombia, the aid request for next year looks almost exactly the same as the past several years.

Last week, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon said this to the Colombian daily El Tiempo:

It’s important to understand that the strategy that President Uribe’s government is presenting now understands that the social side has to stand out in the second phase of Plan Colombia. Therefore, our aid will probably follow that line.

This simply did not happen.

U.S. aid to Colombia in the foreign operations (foreign aid) bill totaled $587.1 million in 2006, of which 77.9 percent went to Colombia’s security forces. The request for 2008 moves only $10 million from the military to the economic category; the military-police share falls only slightly, to 76.2 percent of a total of $586.0 million.

That’s right – instead of a shift in priorities, we see a shift of 1.7 percent. There is nothing new about the 2008 request, at all.

Military / Police Aid 2006 and 2007 2008
Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI) $334,861 $366,968
ACI – Air Bridge Denial $13,860 $0
ACI – Critical Flight Safety $17,700 $0
Foreign Military Financing (FMF) $89,100 $78,000
International Military Education and Training (IMET) $1,673 $1,500
Subtotal $457,194 $446,468
Percentage of Total 77.9% 76.2%
Economic / Social Aid 2006 and 2007 2008
Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI) $129,920 $0
Economic Support Funds (ESF) $0 $139,500
Subtotal $129,920 $139,500
Percentage of Total 22.1% 23.8%
(Aid in the 2006 budget supplemental) (2006)  
(International Narcotics and Law Enforcement) $16,300  

(Congress did not pass an aid bill for 2007, so the 2006 amount is simply repeated this year. Still more military aid – probably about $150 million – goes through the Defense Department budget, so the real percentage of military assistance is significantly higher. See this table.)

In 1999, the Colombian government (with U.S. input) developed “Plan Colombia,” a plan for new aid and spending that would be 25 percent military. In 2000, the United States responded with an aid package that was the exact reverse: 75 percent military and police assistance. Now, the Colombian government has issued a “Plan Colombia 2″ that is 86 percent non-military – and the Bush administration’s response is a package of 76 percent military and police assistance.

Nothing is different – unless the Democratic Congress takes the initiative to make the changes the Bush administration was unwilling to implement in this budget request.

5 Responses to “Nothing new for Plan Colombia 2”

  1. boz Says:

    Any change in fumigation funds?

  2. jcg Says:

    It is, as you say, entirely up to the U.S. Congress. Hopefully they’ll have the guts to present a significantly different alternative to the U.S. administration’s.

  3. Adam Isacson Says:

    Fumigation funds are the same (that’s the ACI military/police aid account). They apparently want to stick with what they know best.

  4. Melissa Cantiello Says:

    It has been proven that the most effective way to combat illegal drug use is through treatment programs in our own country! Policies like Plan Columbia ruin people’s health and livelihoods and are only successful in lining the pockets of certain weapons and pesticide manufacturers!

  5. EL PIBE Says:

    Although you stress that the program will not help improve Colombia, it has already done just that. They need to make it 50-50. Look at what was achieved by the first package of aid. The economy is booming, the rebels are running, and crime rates have dropped tremendously. The President of Colombia has to be doing something right because his approval rating are at 70%.

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