US President Donald Trump has proposed a $140 million cut in 2018 foreign aid to Colombia compared with this year’s funding—a 36% reduction—according to newly released budget documents.
The enormous cuts are from this year’s $391 million in aid for the first year of Peace Colombia, the re-named continuation of the decades-long Plan Colombia program which has brought nearly $11 billion to Colombia since 2000.
“It’ll be up to Congress to save Peace Colombia,” tweeted Adam Isacson, a Latin America expert with WOLA, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit focusing on the Americas.
Crunching 2018 aid request numbers. I see a 36% one-year cut for #Colombia ($391m->$251m). It'll be up to Congress to save "Peace Colombia."
— Adam Isacson (@adam_wola) May 23, 2017
Indeed, early commentators on Trump’s foreign aid proposal suggest that—just as with other Trump proposals—Congress is likely to make extensive changes before it sends an approved budget back to the President for signing. This budget approval process could take months.
Nevertheless, the big cuts in Trump’s request put Congressional supporters of Colombian aid in a difficult position in trying to restore some of the proposed reductions.
If enacted as Trump has proposed, the total aid package to Colombia would be the lowest in 20 years, since 1998. As measured in inflation-adjusted dollars, it would be the lowest amount in 32 years, since 1986.
The cuts include slashing nearly in half the funding through the US Economic Support Fund, from $187 million to $105 million, a drop of 44%.
International Narcotics Control aid to Colombia would drop $18 million (13%), from $143 million to $125 million. This cut is despite the continuing US pressure on Colombia to reduce coca and cocaine production.
Total aid through the US Department of State would drop from $391 million to $251 million. About $60 million is also provided Colombia through the Department of Defense budget, whose numbers are not included.
Isacson noted that $38 million of the proposed cuts are in the category of “Foreign Military Financing,” and that this might re-appear in the funding request for the Department of Defense.
But even setting that military aid aside, the non-military foreign aid request would reduce funding by $101 million or 29%.
Colombia is not alone among Latin American countries in taking a big hit. “The picture is across-the-board brutal,” Isacson noted.
For all of Latin America, Trump wants to cut aid from $1.83 billion to $1.20 billion, a 35% cut.
With Colombia’s proposed cut of 36%, it means that the country is not being given special priority by the Trump administration, despite the fact that it has long been the US’ strongest military ally in Latin America.