Egypt and Colombia: Significant reduction in monetary aid

Issues such as human rights and illicit crops threaten the cooperation of the United States 

Egypt and Colombia: Significant reduction in monetary aid

Despite President Trump's warm embrace with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi, the United States has held back a substantial amount of foreign aid because of the country's human rights abuses. State Department officials stated that around $195 million were withheld and another $100 million redirected to other entities. We were unable to certify that Egypt had obeyed the rules of human rights and democracy”, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. The money "will be held until we see progress on democracy", she added. She cited, among other concerns, a law in Egypt that restricts the work of nongovernmental groups that often promote democracy and human rights.

According to Cole Bockenfeld, deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy, the justifications for the decision are not clear for Egypt, yet the move is not likely to affect the African country's military campaign in the Sinai. "Egypt will still receive the vast majority of its $1.3bn in military assistance", said Sarah Yerkes, a fellow at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "This move is far more symbolic than practical. It is embarrassing to Egypt, but it will not have a major impact on Egypt's capabilities", affirmed Yerkes.

Egypt has been a recipient of US aid since it established diplomatic relations with the Israel following the signing of the 1978 Camp David Accords, brokered by then US President Jimmy Carter. The country is the world's second-largest recipient of US aid at about $1.3 billion annually.

In the Western Hemisphere, Colombia has also been threatened by the United States’ budget cut and the direct reason is illicit crops. Legislators of the country's House of Representatives, in the draft budget for foreign operations in 2018, have proposed that if Colombia fails to reduce illicit cocaine crops, it could lose close to 30 percent of the aid granted by the United States.

For the commander of the Task Force against Drug Trafficking Poseidon, Carlos Serrano, the situation is not only to threaten the reduction of aid, "it is easy to agree that the crops are increasing, but there is not a proposal from them on what to do with the people who cultivate the illicit".

Colombia will reduce the budget of support in different subjects to the military scope. The country would receive US $ 251.4 million for 2018, less than the US $ 299.4 million obtained in 2016 and much lower than the funds approved by Congress for the 2017 period; a total of US $ 391 million contemplated in the plan "Peace Colombia" to invest in the post conflict area of the nation. In spite of the reductions that the budget establishes in cooperation for Colombia, the military funding is left untouched.

 

Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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