The United States House of Representative threatened to cut US support for Colombia over human rights violations and President Ivan Duque’s failure to implement peace policies.
The House also demanded that the State Department guarantee Colombian officials involved in the illegal use of US spying equipment for criminal purposes are brought to justice.
The House, which is controlled by the Democratic Party, also wants to suspend the disbursement of 20% of the Department of the Defense’s counternarcotics budget to Colombia until the South American Country’s Constitutional Court certifies Duque is complying with the peace process.
The Representatives additionally want verification Bogota is in compliance with agreements in the 2016 peace deal over the protection of ethnic minorities who have claimed to be the victims of extermination.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demanded that “unless there are demonstrated actions by the Government of Colombia to adhere to national and local laws and regulations,” Trump should’t spend another dollar on the aerial fumigation of coca.
Democrats’ slap in Duque’s face
The conditions are a slap in the face for Duque whose political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, is being investigated over illegal spying by the National Army.
The government has effectively stopped the crop substitution program that was part of the 2016 peace deal with demobilized FARC guerrillas.
Colombia’s Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo told press last week that the government and security forces “are meeting the requirements of the authorities” to resume the controversial counternarcotics strategy, which up to this point they haven’t.
The defense minister made the announcement after reports his ministry had been inflating forced eradication statistics while failing to implement a counternarcotics policy involving crop substitution.
Duque’s damaged credibility in Washington
The US Congress is debating public spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is making Duque’s damaged credibility in Washington an increased threat for US aid to Colombia.
Earlier this month, Senator Patrick Leahy blasted reported cases of rape by the Colombian military against which “the government only pledged to take action on after they were uncovered by the press.”
This follows the now months delayed report on orders by army commanders last year to increase body counts, and revelations that the army was illegally spying on journalists, human rights defenders, and political opponents.
Senator Patrick Leahy
Days later, 94 US congressmembers urged the Colombian government “to consider recommitment to implementation of the historic 2016 peace accords and protecting Colombia’s endangered human rights defenders whose vulnerability has only increased during the COVID-19 quarantine.”
The lawmakers apparently stopped buying Duque’s claim he has been implementing the peace deal with demobilized FARC rebels.
Representative Jim McGovern said in May that the US government “should suspend military aid to Colombia and do a top-to-bottom examination of every penny, every piece of equipment, and every minute of training we’ve provided” until US authorities have verified the Duque administration is using American money to execute agreed policies instead of criminal activity.