The Obama administration has “closely resembled” the Bush administration in its policies towards Colombia, analysts at Washington’s Center for International Policy (CIP) stated Wednesday.
In an analysis released to coincide with Obama’s State of the Union address, the U.S. think-tank declared that “in both personnel and policy, the Obama administration closely resembled the Bush administration on Colombia last year.”
The CIP criticises Obama for his focus on Colombia’s military and drug war at the expense of human rights and development, citing the State Department’s certification that “the Colombian Armed Forces’ human rights performance was improving, even in the midst of unfolding scandals about extrajudicial executions and spying on human rights defenders.”
However, the CIP praised Obama for demonstrating greater engagement than his predecessor with human rights issues, and for signalling to Uribe his discomfort with the president’s efforts to change to constitution to allow himself a third term in office.
The analysis notes that Obama differs from Bush in his attitude towards the pending free trade agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Colombia, commenting that the executive branch has “stopped pushing Congress” to ratify the pending FTA.
Adam Isacson, the center’s Latin America specialist, stated that U.S. policy in the region was likely to be circumscribed by Chavez’s actions. “I worry that concerns about Venezuela will prevent the administration from taking any bold moves that distance the United States from allies with poor human rights or corruption records.”
Controverisally, the institute argues that Obama ought to work towards drug decriminalization and abandon its “war on drugs.”