Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Thursday expressed his concern over the U.S. government’s proposed cuts to military help for the Andean nation in 2011.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget proposes to cut spending on Plan Colombia by some $50 million.
Plan Colombia is a U.S. financial and military aid program intended to help the South American country fight drug trafficking and leftist guerrillas.
“This reduction in money to Plan Colombia… worries us,” Uribe said in an interview with Radio Super.
“Luckily we signed the cooperation agreement [with the U.S.], which guarantees a continuation of the same conditions as under Plan Colombia,” he added.
Bogota and Washington signed the controversial military agreement, which grants the U.S. access to seven Colombian bases, last October. The pact will allow U.S. troops and contractors to carry out, among other things, anti-drug missions. It will not increase the number of troops and contractors in Colombia, which is capped at 1,400.
Defense Minister Gabriel Silva is in Washington this week to lobby against the proposed aid cuts and publicise Colombia’s advances in human rights.
Silva gave a speech in which he said that “false positives” – extrajudicial executions of Colombian civilians by the army – were a thing of the past. Colombia is committed to protecting indigenous Colombians and trade unionists, the minister claimed.