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Colombia Solidarity Campaign

Issue11 - October ? December 2003

US Funding and Plan Colombia

Funding for various projects, financed by Plan Colombia, have run into problems over differences of opinion between the US and Colombian administrations.

<p><span class="bodytext">Funding for various projects, financed by Plan Colombia, have run into problems over differences of opinion between the US and Colombian administrations.</span></p>

Funding for various projects, financed by Plan Colombia, have run into problems over differences of opinion between the US and Colombian administrations.

Anne Paterson, the then US ambassador in Bogotá, announced a US plan to fund demobilisation of paramilitary forces. It is estimated that these demobilisations will cost about $3 million a year for the first 1500 paramilitary fighters. However the plan is in doubt for two reasons. Firstly the Colombian government wants the US to drop extradition requests for Carlos Castaño and Salvatore Mancuso, the leaders of the AUC and both wanted in the US for drug trafficking. It is unlikely that any paramilitaries will demobilise until this is agreed, but the US also seems intransigent on the matter. US Congress has problems with the plan, as some of the beneficiaries are likely to be paramilitaries under the command of Jairo Torres Musso, who killed two DEA agents and three Colombian police, during an operation to ship six tonnes of cocaine to the USA.

A further $37 million in aid has been withheld from the Colombian authorities, much of it destined for the notorious XVIII Brigade in Arauca, after 2 tonnes of captured cocaine “went missing”. Congress has refused to release the money until the DEA and the Colombian government explain what happened. General Gabriel Diaz has been sacked for his part in the mysterious affair.

Congress agreed next years budget for Plan Colombia, voting a further $600 million in funds. $75 million of this money had been in doubt after Democrats demanded that the money go instead to fight AIDS in Africa. Unfortunately they were unsuccessful. According to Neil Jeffrey of the State Department, “the vote is a symptom of the links between the Colombian army and the paramilitaries.”

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