Plan Colombia, the U.S. financial and military aid program to help Colombia fight drug trafficking and leftist guerrillas, was not mentioned in President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget proposal to Congress. Colombia will receive military and economic aid, but 20% less than in 2009.
While Obama plans to spend $58 billion in foreign assistance programs, Plan Colombia, which has cost some $7 billion since it was first approved in 1999, is not mentioned anywhere. Support missions in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are explicitly mentioned.
According to justf.org, Colombian military aid will be 20% down to $228 million, 20% less than it received in 2009. Economic aid will slightly be diminished and is proposed to be worth $239 million. Despite the proposed cuts in aid, Colombia remains the largest recipient of aid in Latin America.
Earlier on Monday, Colombia’s vice president, Francisco Santos, warned that cuts in U.S. military aid to Colombia would jeopardize the achievements that the Andean nation has made over the last decade in the fight against drug trafficking.
Also on Monday, the Colombian embassy announced that Defense Minister Gabriel Silva will travel to Washington in February to meet with U.S. Congressmen and lobby for the continuation of Plan Colombia.
Silva will begin his trip on Monday February 8 to “talk about the progress of Plan Colombia and the measures taken by the country for regional cooperation and security,” newspaper El Tiempo quoted from a press release by the embassy.
Ever since taking office, Obama has been unclear about his desire to continue the controversial aid program. The Colombian government has repeatedly insisted Plan Colombia has been successful, while critics note that it has not reached its goals on the diminishing of coca production.
The U.S. and Colombia recently signed a pact that allows the U.S. to use Colombian military bases and airports for U.S. missions.