First peek at the Obama administration’s 2010 aid request Valenzuela to State
May 102009

  • In addition to the information about the Obama administration’s 2010 aid request detailed in the last post, we also know the following:
    • Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said, “It is a small reduction that perhaps isn’t a reduction because it goes to a sort of fund or ‘basket’ to which we will have access. The thing is, we’re competing with other countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.” Santos added that Colombia is advancing in plans to send demining and engineer units to support NATO efforts in Afghanistan.
    • If it had its way, the Obama administration would delete the human rights conditions on military aid to Colombia, just like its predecessor wanted to do. See page 883 of the PDF here. On page 895, the White House Office of Management and Budget similarly “brackets out” human rights conditions imposed on aid to Mexico and Central America under the “Mérida Initiative.”
    • We now have the name of at least one facility in Colombia that will replace the U.S. “Forward Operating Location” or “Cooperative Security Location” leaving Manta, Ecuador before November. That facility is the Palanquero airbase in Puerto Salgar, Cundinamarca. While Manta’s main purpose was to monitor suspect narcotrafficking activity in the Pacific Ocean, Palanquero sits on the other side of the Andes from the Pacific. A major hat-tip to the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s John Lindsay-Poland for finding this eye-popping sentence in a Defense Department budget presentation document released last week (PDF, see page 2-30): “The FY 2010 Base budget includes $46 million for a cooperative security location at Palanquero Air Base in Colombia.
  • In what can perhaps be interpreted as a revolt of Bogotá’s progressive elites, Semana, Colombia’s most-circulated newsweekly, runs a simple message on its cover this weekend: “NO To Re-Election.” The magazine makes clear its opposition to President Álvaro Uribe’s ever-more-apparent desire to change Colombia’s constitution this year to run for a third term next year. The cover story lays out the argument, and a companion story quotes several longtime Uribe supporters who oppose the idea of the president running again.
  • Semana has also posted, for now at least, the 140-page PowerPoint document detailing the findings of Invamer-Gallup’s latest poll of Colombians with telephones in the country’s four largest cities. Álvaro Uribe’s approval rating is still high at 71 percent and his favorability rating is at 68 percent, though both are on the low end of where he has tended to be during his nearly seven years in office. 61 percent think Uribe should be allowed to run for president again. For the first time since early 2003, more of those polled believe that things in Colombia are getting worse than those who see things getting better. The economic downturn is mainly to blame.
  • A week ago, Semana also published a lengthy investigation into the “Office of Envigado,” the powerful narco-mafia network that controls much criminality in Medellín, and which is behind a recent rise in violence in Colombia’s second-largest city. “While the mayor’s office has spent millions on reinsertion [of former paramilitaries], trying to help more than 4,000 demobilized return to society, the mid-level commanders remained on the outside, in the profitable world of crime. The ‘Office of Envigado’ sabotagd the city’s pacification process.”
  • A new report from Human Rights Watch details 17 recent cases of military human rights abuse in Mexico, all of which went to the military justice system. “Not one of the military investigations into these crimes has led to a conviction for even a single soldier on human rights violations. The only civilian investigation into any of these cases led to the conviction of four soldiers.”
  • A long list of Mexican human-rights groups has sent a letter (PDF) to the U.S. Congress asking that it not approve any aid to Mexico’s armed forces.
  • Chile announced that it will purchase 18 used U.S.-built F-16 fighter planes from the Netherlands, a sale that will total US$450 million. Experts in Peru expressed concern, while Peru’s defense minister asked the Congress for a US$123 million increase in the military budget.
  • If you missed the important May 3 60 Minutes segment on Chevron and oil pollution in Ecuador, the video is viewable here.

9 Responses to “Friday Links (Sunday edition)”

  1. Camilla Says:

    I don’t think Uribe should do a third term. I think Uribe would be easier to pressure against a third term if the Colombia free trade agreement were passed. Number one, he’d have reason to leave for that alone. But two, the sort of people who follow and cheerlead Colombia over trade (Miami Herald did this morning) would be freed up to blast the caudillo thing, which they don’t like any more than the left does, and unlike the left, they would have the actual influence to tell Uribe it’s time to go – and go out in a blaze of glory. But I don’t see this happening without free trade. I guess the Witness for Peace crowd can pat itself on the back now for its ‘contribution’ to democracy.

  2. lfm Says:

    This is the ultimate Mobius-strip of political argumentation. Goes on and on, winds all over the place but at the end has only one side to it. It´s all about the FTA, and if Uribe takes a wrong decision, it was all the left´s fault!

    I don´t think Uribe´s decision will depend on “influential opinions” especially from such bastions of political accountability as the Miami Herald. Whatever he and his team decide (I´m sure the decision is not his alone) will be based on political facts on the ground. As for ensuring a “honorable retreat”, c´mon, he could have one any day of the week if he wanted, with or without FTA. He claims that he “won” the war. (You all know I doubt it, but people out there believe it, which is good enough for him.) For most Colombians that´s much more important than any FTA. That is, of course, unless defending the FTA with whatever argument seems remotely plausible puts food on your table. But that´s another story.

  3. JMB Says:

    I hope Congress leaves in the HR conditions, its the only way to avert another foreign military slaughter civilian mess with US taxpayer monies. Certain countries have not shown the ability to behave in a professional manner and I see no need to further feed those countries money to continue bad behavior.

  4. maremoto Says:

    another one of your “war on drugs” victim…yes he is…by extension, by the environment of violence and bloodshed that YOUR black market creates

    3700 people a year die in the US of all illegal drugs…wouldn’t you say insurance companies (and their cronies in Congress)probably kill more people every year denying claims, no? Or 300,000/year tobacco related deaths?

    have you people no decency?

    plan Colombia? nope… plan Washington is more like it

  5. Block Says:

    Maremoto –

    I agree with you that the “War on Drugs” is silly and needs to stop. But your dead-horse beating rants are tiresome even for me. Give it a rest for a little.

  6. Camilla Says:

    Maremoto: I’m with you. I’m all for throwing them in jail. Make ‘em pay for all the drug-cultivation damage to the environment, too, as well as the human cost. I’d love to see one be forced to give up his house to help pay for medical care of land mine victims. That ought to make some of them think twice about the damage they do. Responsibility is everything here. If those scumsuckers can’t give up their snorts and joints for that, then let them pay, and pay big.

    President Uribe shares our point of view.

  7. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Camilla has tagged Maremoto, an uribe follower. That’s another pattern uribistas seem to fit. Their thorough shamelessness.

  8. Camilla Says:

    Don’t be silly, Jaime Bustos – our opinions just happen to coincide. I know he’s not an Uribista. Neither am I, because I am a gringa. But I’m an honorary Uribista, sure! I just love President Uribe, wish he could be our president here.

  9. Jaime Bustos Says:

    I don’t really think you would want another Watergate in the United States Would you Camilla? he he he he

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