The United States Congress passed a bill on May 4 which will see Colombia receive USD$450 million under the plan “Paz Colombia”.
The USD$450 million will come, in the most part, from the State Department, and the remainder from the United States Department of Defence, and will be used in order to help assist with the implementation of the peace process
The bill, which is now awaiting the president’s signature, represents an increase of around USD$74 million on the amount received in 2016. This is the first time that US financial support to Colombia has increased (year on year) since 2007.
The money will be divided between a number of causes with $187 million destined to help the reintegration process of former combatants, and almost USD$150 million for the war against drugs. The remaining amount is likely to be split between a range of post-conflict causes.
Previous financial support from the US has not been without its controversies. Plan Colombia – which was established in 2001 to help in the fight against narco-trafficking and the government’s efforts against guerrillas – has been criticised by citizens and some politicians alike. Many say that it has led to an increase in the number of coca plantations and human rights violations. Furthermore, they state that criminal groups have emerged where they did not exist previously thanks to the demobilisation process of paramilitaries in 2003.
In related news, President Santos will visit his US counterpart on May 18 to “reinforce the strong ties that the United States and Colombia enjoy” according to a statement from the US embassy in Colombia. It is expected that the two will discuss a number of domestic issues such as plans to tackle drugs trafficking and the peace process, in addition to regional topics such as the worsening situation in Venezuela.