A report by the U.S. State Department gives the names of 14 military contractor companies and the amounts they were paid by U.S. government for their counter-narcotics operations in Colombia.
The report, jointly prepared by the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and presented to Congress in June 2010, laid out which companies received the $216.7 million of funds contracted out in Colombia in 2009. According to Just the Facts, Colombia is the only country for which Congress requires very specific reports on where money is being spent. The departments must report military and police assistance contractors, the amount of money each contractor receives, the services the contractor performs, and any risks to contract personnel posed by operations in Colombia.
The companies receiving the most contract dollars are Dyncorp International with $96.8 million, Lockheed-Martin and subsidiaries with $67.6 million, and Telford Aviation with $13.2 million. All money comes from Plan Colombia funds, a U.S. backed initiative that is aimed at reducing guerrilla warfare and narco-trafficking in Colombia. The Colombian government has no say as to which companies will receive contracts.
The presence of the U.S. military in Colombia has caused tensions in the region, with neighboring countries wary of seven proposed U.S. military bases in the country. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused the U.S. of being behind Colombia’s accusations in July that Venezuela was harboring FARC guerrillas. Chavez broke relations with Colombia over the issue, and threatened to cut off oil shipments to the U.S. if Colombia were to attack Venezuela. A U.S. State Department official said the U.S. had no intention of engaging in military action with Venezuela.
Venezuela and Colombia have since restored ties, with new Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos meeting twice so far with Chavez. Another meeting is planned for early 2011.