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|
|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|
|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.