Plan Colombia, the US financial and military aid program to fight drug trafficking and guerrillas, is not mentioned in the 2011 budget proposal that President Barack Obama sent to Congress. According to JustF.org, Colombia will receive $228 million in military aid, 20% less than it received in 2009. Economic aid will slightly be diminished and is proposed to be set at $239 million. Colombia still remains the largest US aid recipient in South America.
On Feb. 1, Colombia’s Vice President Francisco Santos warned that cuts in US military aid to Colombia would jeopardize the achievements that the Andean nation has made over the last decade in the fight against drug trafficking. That same day, the Colombian embassy announced that Defense Minister Gabriel Silva will travel to Washington in February to meet with US Congress members and lobby the continuation of Plan Colombia.
Silva will begin his trip on Feb. 8 to “talk about the progress of Plan Colombia and the measures taken by the country for regional cooperation and security,” the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo quoted a press release by the embassy. US aid to Colombia has dropped in recent years from its peak in the early yearsof Plan Colombia, which took effect in 2000. However, Washington and Bogotá recently signed a pact that allows the Pentagon to use Colombian military bases and airports for US missions. (Colombia Reports, Feb. 1)