WASHINGTON, Apr 9 - The administration of President George
W. Bush wants
Congress to approve major increases in aid to Colombia and its
2002 as part of the next level in its long war against drugs.
In particular, he's asking for a total of almost 800 million
bilateral economic and security assistance for Colombia, Peru,
Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, and Panama, according to the fiscal
international-affairs budget submitted to Congress here Monday.
Aside from those big aid boosts, Bush appears to have opted for a
continuity in US aid priorities for fiscal 2002. He has decided to
Congress, for example, to approve the same level of funding for UN
multilateral agencies as had been committed by the administration
President Bill Clinton.
Colombian anti-narcotics soldiers fire with their U.S. machine guns in a demonstration at the Tres Esquinas military base in the country's southern jungle region, April 2, 2001. Tres Esquinas is the center of anti-narcotics operations in the country's $7.5 billion Plan Colombia.
That includes some of Clinton's more controversial commitments
which have been
opposed by Republicans in Congress, including 25 million dollars
for the UN
Population Fund (UNFPA), 107.5 million dollars for the Global
Facility (GEF), and more than 90 million dollars for the Korea
Development Organisation (KEDO), which was created in a 1994
accord with North
Korea which Bush has said he wants to review.
Although the total international affairs request - at just under
dollars - comes to about five percent more than what Congress
2001, most of the difference derives from one-time investments in
embassies and the State Department's antiquated communications and
To compensate for those costs, and increases in bilateral aid to
the administration has proposed reducing appropriations for
credit agencies (ECAs), the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas
Investment Corporation (OPIC).
But US multinational businesses, the ECAs main clients, have
pledged to fight
those cuts and are mobilising their considerable lobbying
resources to press
Congress into restoring them.
The aid request submitted Monday will be taken up by Congress over
four or five months. Although Bush is likely to have an easier
Clinton, whose aid requests were often bitterly opposed by the
majority in Congress after 1994, it is unlikely that a final bill
approved until just before the new fiscal year begins, Oct. 1, at
In addition to the anticipated fight over ECA funding, some
including Republicans, will clearly want to play with the numbers.
for example, voted for a resolution that favoured increasing
funding to fight
the global HIV/AIDS epidemic by about 50 percent next year, to one
dollars by 2003.
The State Department budget, by contrast, called for a ten percent
2002 over the current level of some 460 million dollars.
As in years past, Israel and Egypt, which will receive some three
dollars and 2.1 billion dollars, respectively, in economic and
will be the biggest aid recipients under the new request.
Multilateral economic and development agencies, like the World
Bank and the
regional development banks, will also receive a big chunk of the
total - about
1.4 billion dollars, including 186 million dollars in voluntary
to specialised UN agencies, such as UNFPA and the UN Development
(87.1 million dollars).
Despite Republican unhappiness with some UN peacekeeping
administration also asked for full funding of all assessed
contributions to UN
operations, at 844 million dollars for 2002, as well as another
dollars for assessed contributions to some 44 international
including the United Nations.
Bilateral aid to Eastern Europe and the states of the former
Soviet Union will
also remain constant under the new request, at 1.4 billion
this year, of which ten percent is earmarked for Yugoslavia,
million dollars for Kosovo, and 45 million dollars for Macedonia
fighting between Albanian rebels and government forces evoked
concerns about a
new Balkan War.
The most startling increases, however, are to go to South America
as part of
the ''war against drugs''. Bush wants to provide 731 million
dollars in new
funding for the 'Andean Counterdrug Initiative' (ACI), a
continuation of the
'Plan Colombia' to which Washington has already committed some 1.6
Plan Colombia, a joint US-Colombian programme designed primarily
equip, and advise Bogota's military and police forces to take
control of the
major coca-growing region of Putumayo in southern Colombia and
and opium poppy fields, has drawn strong expressions of concerns
from most of
Colombia's neighbours who fear the ''spillover'' effects of the US-
campaign in the region.
The new aid plan appears designed to answer those concerns. Under
is to receive 399 million dollars in 2002, of which 252.5 million
will be used
for interdiction and eradication, and 146.5 million dollars is to
be used for
alternative development programmes and aid to the Colombian
justice system and
local non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Peru, whose current aid level is only 48 million dollars, will
million dollars next year, Bolivia 101 million dollars, and 39
all about equally divided between military and development aid, if
In addition, Ecuador will receive an additional 30 million dollars -
five million dollars this year - in economic support to support
reform, while Peru will get 10 million dollars for similar
purposes, up from
2.2 million dollars this year.
Brazil is to receive 15 million dollars in drug-related
10 million dollars; and Panama 11 million dollars. Those figures
increases from two million dollars; 1.2 million dollars; and one
Aside from the anti-drug effort, military training assistance is
also set to
increase by about 10 percent next year. While the total amount
the International Military Education and Training (IMET) comes to
million dollars, Washington proposes to more than double IMET
Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Yemen.
Foreign military financing (FMF), a programme which promotes arms
will also increase from 3.6 billion dollars to 3.7 billion dollars
Countries receiving major increases include Nigeria, which is
10 million dollars; South Africa, six million dollars; the
million dollars (up from 2 million dollars); Kazakhstan, 2.75
Ukraine, 4.8 million dollars; the Caribbean region, 5.5 million
Salvador, 3.5 million dollars.
Copyright 2001 IPS