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Feb 252009

Five months into Fiscal Year 2009 (which began October 1), the U.S. Congress has almost completed the 2009 federal budget. The House and Senate have developed an “omnibus” spending bill combining ten sections of the budget, which the House is expected to vote on today.

One of those ten sections funds foreign assistance for the rest of the world. The 2009 State Department and Foreign Operations bill provides Colombia with US$547.05 million in aid for 2009. Of that total, 55.8 percent (US$305.05 million) would go to Colombia’s armed forces and police.

An additional amount of military and police aid goes separately, through accounts in the Defense Department’s budget. In 2007, the Defense budget added an additional US$114.26 million in military and police aid. If that amount is similar in 2009, then total aid to Colombia this year will add up to US$666.31 million. Of that total, 62.9 percent (US$419.31 million) will be military and police aid.

The 2009 aid bill’s Colombia outlay almost exactly resembles the amounts and military-economic splits that Congress provided to Colombia for 2008. The Bush administration, which heavily favored military aid to Colombia, had sought to undo the Democratic Congress’s far less military 2008 aid package for Colombia; in February 2008 it requested a 2009 aid package for Colombia that was 72.9 percent military and police aid (76.9 percent when Defense-budget aid is added). Congress denied this request and maintained 2008 aid levels.

Here are the details, from the House-Senate Conference Committee’s “Joint Explanatory Statement” (PDF).

Military and Police Aid:
(Thousands of dollars)

Aid program 2008 2009 – Bush administration request 2009 – H.R. 1105
Andean Counterdrug Programs 247,098 329,557 242,500
Foreign Military Financing (FMF) 55,050 66,390 53,000
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) 0 19,247 5,000
Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related (NADR) 3,715 3,150 3,150
International Military Education and Training (IMET) 1,428 1,400 1,400
Subtotal: Foreign Operations programs 307,291 419,744 305,050
Defense-Budget programs (estimate based on 2007) 114,264 114,264 114,264
Total 421,555 534,008 419,314

Economic and Social Aid:
(Thousands of dollars)

Aid program 2008 2009 – Bush administration request 2009 – H.R. 1105
Economic Support Fund (ESF) 194,412 142,366 200,000
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) 39,427 11,340 40,000
USAID Transition Initiatives (2009 est.) 2,000 2,000 2,000
Subtotal: Foreign Operations programs 235,839 155,706 242,000
Defense-Budget programs (2009 est.) 5,000 5,000 5,000
Total 240,839 160,706 247,000

Overall Total:
(Thousands of dollars)

2008 2009 – Bush administration request 2009 – H.R. 1105
Economic Support Fund (ESF) 194,412 142,366 200,000
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) 39,427 11,340 40,000
USAID Transition Initiatives (2009 est.) 2,000 2,000 2,000
Foreign Operations programs 543,130 575,450 547,050
Defense-Budget programs (2009 est.) 119,264 119,264 119,264
Total 662,394 694,714 666,314

The House-Senate Conference Committee’s statement [PDF] provides this additional detail about economic aid to Colombia, indicating how it recommends that the 2009 aid money be distributed.

13 Responses to “Congress nearly finishes the 2009 aid bill”

  1. chris Says:

    well, Colombian govt keeps telling us that they want $$$ for judicial/police training and $$$ for improving joint operability within the armed forces and national police for a host of issues.

  2. Camilla Says:

    The US owes Colombia that money. So long as Hollywood keeps snorting, the US can’t very well expect Colombia to pay for the whole task of halting narcoterror and drugs all by itself. It may be seen as a ‘gift’ and an undeserved one in some quarters, it may be seen as ‘aid’ in another. But I see it as shared responsibility. If the US wants dopers running wild and turning the place into Juarez and TeeJay, then by all means cut off military aid and feel real Quakerly and ‘virtuous.’

  3. MZR Says:

    However, Camilla, it’s patently obvious that this fallacious “war on drugs” simply isn’t working. Demand remains high, prices remain low and purity levels have been stable for a long time as supply continues to flow pretty much unabated. As such, do you think that this money could be spent in a more efficacious way? For example, dealing with the problem at home (i.e. in the US) to lower demand and provide treatment and rehabilitation centres to help drug users stay clean. This may be a more prudent way to spend this money.

  4. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Money to Colombia Says:

    [...] Plan Colombia and Beyond has the numbers on foreign aid to Colombia in the FY09 budget. It amounts to over half a billion dollars (an estimated $666.31 billion). addthis_url = ‘′; addthis_title = ‘Money+to+Colombia’; addthis_pub = ”; Sphere: Related Content Filed under: Colombia | | The views expressed in the comments are the sole responsibility of the person leaving those comments. They do not reflect the opinion of the author of PoliBlog, nor have they been vetted by the author. [...]

  5. El Común Says:

    This op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by FERNANDO HENRIQUE CARDOSO, CéSAR GAVIRIA and ERNESTO ZEDILLO is worth reading (the link was on in previous days).

    On a somewhat different note, have there been any serious efforts to establish a possible link between the growth of the Mexican cartels and NAFTA?

  6. Mauro Says:

    I would definitely like to see the Colombian administration devote more money to transitional programs, devoid of armed military personnel. Aside from that, this aid is the least the US can do considering that we contributed to a displacement of many farmers who are now growing Cocoa. Wheres the aid for to increase the re-integration and development of foreign agriculture?

  7. lfm9b Says:

    Look, in principle, I´m not against the US helping Colombia combat drugs. The drug trade has inflicted terrible damage on Colombia and the country would definitely be better without it. But as time goes by, it´s becoming increasingly clear that in this deal the “shared responsibility” thing isn´t working as one would imagine. The way it works now, the US stuff the pockets of the Colombian government so that it fights the “War on Drugs” and, in return, Colombia shuts up and tries to get the job done (with little results as we have seen). If this were really a shared responsibility, Colombia would have some say into how to prosecute the overall effort. That is, Colombia would have some say into how much money should go into stopping the drug at its source and how much at its destination. Of course, this is a pipe dream. The US will never let Colombia say what, as far as I can tell, most Colombians would say if given the chance: that the US extreme prohibitionism is doomed to fail.

    Imagine that Saudi Arabia decides to launch a “War on Porn” and comes to the conclusion that the only way to do it is by shutting down San Fernando Valley in California with house-to-house searches and then with money and arm-twisting gets the US to comply. Wouldn´t Americans want to be given the chance to tell the Saudis that this is an idiotic way of doing things and to, to put it mildly, just fuck off?

    I understand the parallel isn´t entirely appropriate: even if you´re the prudest of prudes, you wouldn´t say that porn harms California the way the drug trade harms Colombia. But the one-sidedness of the policy-making is becoming too blatant and too harmful to ignore.

    If shared responsibility is what this is about, fine by me. But shared responsibility implies shared goals, shared assessments, shared decision-making. Not just sending money (actually, not quite money, but military contracts with American firms) to Colombia, get it to fight a frigging war and call that a joint effort, with a Presidential Medal thrown in as a cherry topping.

  8. Pancho Says:

    Yes El Común, there is a link between NAFTA and the Mexican cartels. There is a little known clause in the NAFTA agreement, buried deep in the chapter covering transportation services, that facilitates cocaine smuggling across the border. In order to get the legislation through Congress it was necessary to add this provision to keep the drug traffickers happy. And if you look at the metric of how Mexican cartels have grown in strength and influence since the agreement entered into force, NAFTA has been a resounding success. Chalk one up to free trade.

    Don’t believe those who tell you it has to do with increased interdiction pressure in the Caribbean and a move to use Mexican cartels to get cocaine across the U.S. border. And that Colombian traffickers are paying the Mexicans with cocaine instead of cash, essentially cutting the Mexicans in on the most lucrative part of the drug dealing – distribution it the U.S. That’s pure rubbish.

  9. Kyle Says:

    I agree with Camila: it is a shared responsibility. Fighting drugs is OK if done correctly – after all, they do a lot of harm. At some point, Colombia will have to establish a complete state presense in its national territory (as much as possible, which may be a never ending process) and at the same time, rich folk in the US and Europe (dominantly) will have to stop powdering their noses. I do like the increase in the economic and social aid.

  10. Interview: Former ACVC political prisoner Oscar Duque « Todos Somos Geckos Says:

    [...] see those click-throughs. This was an important week for that sort of thing – Obama’s budget still has hundreds of millions earmarked for the Colombian [...]

  11. El Común Says:

    Pancho….I get your drift. What do you think of this?

  12. Camilla Says:

    OT, but no place else to put it: The Colombian army raided FARC military commander Mono Jojoy’s jungle hideout, which turns out to have been an adventure-flick-looking cave. The photos are spectacular.

    Playing Indiana Jones is Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, architect of the FARC rubout in Ecuador and the rescue of the hostages in July and now discoverer of a prized FARC jungle nest. He’s got style!

    Could he have calculated it that way? Is it anything to do with his upcoming presidential campaign? I don’t really care, the guy looks howlingly cool and FARC gets done another number on by this guy.

  13. Plan Colombia and Beyond » First peek at the Obama administration’s 2010 aid request Says:

    [...] aid. In 2009, however, we know that $40 million of the INCLE total is non-military, as required by Congress. The 2008 figure was similar. If we assume the 2010 outlay will also be $40 million non-military, [...]

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