He United States Senate Appropriations Committee approved a budget item of 487 million dollars for Colombia during fiscal year 2024, which will begin in October of this year.
This item is almost identical to the one that Congress authorized for 2023 and surpassing by 20 million what was requested by US President Joe Biden at the beginning of the year.
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This decision also resulted in an eventual clash between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Republicans in the Chamber chose to defer the aid due to the sensations that the government of President Gustavo Petro generates in them.
“Of the funds assigned by this Law under titles III and IV, 487,375,000 million dollars must be available for assistance to Colombia.“, says the project, obtained by EL TIEMPO.
This initiative approved by the Senate establishes that, at least, 40 million dollars will be invested in regional security in municipalities with high levels of illegal activitieswhere priority will also be given to economic development programs.
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However, as in previous cases of aid from the United States, this comes with conditions.
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On the one hand, the delivery of 20% of the aid destined to combat drug trafficking will depend on a certification from the Secretary of State, which confirms that Colombia is committed to the fight against narcotics.
“20% may be released when the Secretary of State certifies that the Government of Colombia is implementing an effective whole-of-government strategy to substantially and sustainably reduce levels of coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia, including programs and activities that support the eradication of illicit crops, alternative development, drug interdiction, the dismantling of drug trafficking and the money laundering network“, is mentioned in the project.
Taking into account the decision of President Petro de not eradicate coca crops grown by peasants, these conditions could be difficult to meet.
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The delivery of another 5% will be conditional on the country being “bringing to justice those members of the police who ordered, directed and used excessive force and participated in other illegal acts against protesters in 2020 and 2021, and that the police are fully cooperating with such efforts“.
Another 20% destined to the funds directed to the Military Forces will be subject to a certification stating that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and other judicial authorities are sentencing the perpetrators of human rights violations (DD. HH.)which include those with command responsibility, to custodial sentences.
Likewise, this amount will be delivered as progress is being made in reducing threats and attacks against DD defenders. H H. and other social leaders, while the judicial authorities prosecute and punish those responsible for ordering and carrying out such attacks, among other things.
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The text of the bill also makes it clear that none of the appropriated funds may be used to pay reparations to the victims of the conflict or compensation to those demobilized by the peace process.
*With information from SERGIO GÓMEZ MASERI, correspondent for EL TIEMPO in Washington