Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has approved on Thursday a $5.7 billion increase to the 2013 defense budget.
“Not for a single day or minute will we let our guard down against violent actors that threaten the life and work of the honest Colombian,” Santos told the National Federation of Oil Palm Growers in a message this week.
The funds will help the armed forces sustain nearly 500,000 soldiers and national police. The president did not specify how the additional resources will be spent, other than to say it would allow for more military acquisitions and renovations.
The military build-up takes place at the same time as the government is trying to broker a peace accord with FARC guerrillas in the Norwegian capital Oslo. Phase three of peace talks, which will focus on the implementation of a peace accord, is expected to commence in mid-November in Havana, Cuba.
“We can now speak of peace…due to the strength of our armed forces,” said the head of state. He added that, “we look forward to the end of the conflict in earnest, with dignity, prudently and without repeating past mistakes.”