A budget cut in U.S. military aid program Plan Colombia will not affect relations between the two countries, Colombia’s ambassador to Washington said Tuesday.
The Obama administration plans to cut by 15% the budget for the two countries’ joint initiative to fight drug trafficking and leftist insurgency groups, the 2012 State Department budget proposal showed Monday.
If U.S. Congress approves the budget, the countries’ fight against drug trafficking will not be disrupted and and Colombia will continue to have a “vigorous” plan to fight the cultivation and trafficking of illicit drugs, Ambassador Gabriel Silva said in a press statement.
According to the ambassador, Colombia should “rejoice” that the cut was “less severe” than other cuts made in the Obama administration’s federal budget proposal.
The ambassador said that the budget cut was in response to pressure from Congress to cut public spending and is part of “a process of the gradual reduction of Plan Colombia, known as nationalization” due to the “new budget and strategic realities of Colombia and the United States.”
The State Department wants Congress to approve $400 million for the U.S.-Colombian joint effort to combat drug trafficking, which is a 15% cut compared to this year’s budget, wrote newspaper El Tiempo. Caracol Radio reported that the cut is 21% down from 2010.
Plan Colombia dates from 1999 and has cost the U.S. over $8 billion so far.
The initiative, however, has been a target for criticism from various sources such as Peruvian President Alan Garcia, who claims that cultivation has largely been redistributed to his country, rather than being diminished.