State Budget Request Reflects Shift in LatAm Security Priorities

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    The US State Department has requested more aid for Central America, but less for Colombia and Mexico, with steep drops in military and police aid throughout the region, an analysis by Just the Facts shows.

    According to the website, which monitors US aid to Latin American and Caribbean nations, military and police aid to Central America may increase by 3.5 percent compared to last year.    

    Aid to Colombia, meanwhile, may drop to levels last seen more than a decade ago, before the initiation of Plan Colombia, the multi-pronged multi-billion dollar program to fight drugs and later leftist guerrillas. Aid to Mexican security forces may drop 31 percent compared to 2009, despite rhetoric in Washington calling for more assistance for that embattled nation.

    However, Just the Facts notes that overall US security aid to Latin America could increase by up to one third when Department of Defense funding is included.

    InSight Crime Analysis

    Increases in security aid to Central America despite precipitous overall drops for Latin America are just further evidence of the perception that the region has a grave problem with organized crime. As pressure by authorities mounts in Mexico and Colombia, traffickers appear to be moving their operations to areas where police and judicial institutions are less disruptive of their profit margins, and US authorities appear to be taking note of this.

    Additionally, military and police assistance as a portion of the State Department’s overall budget has dropped from 40 percent in 2009 to 26 percent in 2013. If, as Just the Facts notes, this portion is picked up by the Department of Defense, this would indicate that the US is backing a more militarized approach to combat organized crime in the region.

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