All grants for Cuba have been cut in the budget request submitted by the White House, which received 20 million USD for civil society and human rights in 2016.
HAVANA TIMES — President Donald Trump’s first budget request, which was submitted on Tuesday, eliminates funds directed to issues linked to civil society and human rights in Cuba [something which the Cuban government has been demanding for years].
The request also included substantial cuts to foreign aid in Latin America, with cuts to aid proposed for every country in the continent.
The entire US budget allocated to Cuba, which received 20 million USD for matters linked to civil society and human rights in 2016, was cut. The specific aid program that had been developed for Venezuela (US $6.5 million for matters linked to governance and pro-democratic efforts) will also disappear, explained Spanish newspaper El País.
If you breakdown Trump’s budget for the 2018 fiscal year, country by country, you’ll see cuts to all of the countries within the region.
Nevertheless, we must add the sum given to security, democracy programs and the war against drugs or immigration to these grants for each country, which have joint accounts for the whole continent and funds are handed out according to what is deemed necessary.
“There are cuts, however, the budget really prioritizes our programs that focus on disrupting the activities of transnational criminal organizations, strengthening border security and combating corruption,” said the director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources, Hari Sastry, in a teleconference call.
The 2018 fiscal year budget request needs to be approved by Congress and can undergo some changes. It provides for US $37.6 billion to the State Department, including $1.093 billion will go to operations in the American continent and Caribbean, a $614 million decrease when compared to the 2016 fiscal year budget.
If this budget gets the go ahead, Mexico will receive 87.7 million USD, a 45.3% cut when compared to the 2016 fiscal year, when it received 160.1 million USD.
Cuts to Central America have also been substantial, thereby reducing aid to development and institutional strengthening efforts that former president Barack Obama’s administration gave priority to.
Guatemala will receive $80.7 million, instead of the 131.2 million it received in the 2016 fiscal year; Honduras will get $67.8 million (instead of the 98.2 million USD), and El Salvador will get $46.3 million USD (instead of the 67.9 million USD it received in the past).
Nicaragua will receive $200,000, (instead of the $10 million it received in the 2016 fiscal year); Costa Rica will receive $400,000 (instead of the $1.8 million), and Panama will get $1.2 million (instead of the $3.3 million it received in the past).
On the other hand, Colombia will receive $251.4 million, a much smaller sum when compared to the $299.4 million that it received in the 2016 fiscal year, and significantly less than the aid Congress granted the country in 2017, which was a total of $391 million to help finance the “Colombia Peace” plan in the post-conflict era.
However, there is a chance that there might be more funds for Colombia in allocation dedicated to regional operations within the continent ($300 million), or humanitarian aid and the worldwide promotion of democracy ($2.679 billion).
Peru will receive $49.6 (instead of the 74.9 million USD it received in the 2016 fiscal year); while Chile will receive $500,000 USD (instead of the $670,000), Argentina will get $500,000, Uruguay $400,000, the same amount as Paraguay; and Brazil will receive $815,000 (instead of the $12.8 million it received in 2016).
The budget request has also cut specific grants for Ecuador, which received $2 milllion in 2016; and will give $10.5 million USD to the Dominican Republic (instead of the 21.6 million it received in 2016) and $157.4 million USD to Haiti (instead of the 190.7 million).
The budget request also includes a $587 million grant to fight against transnational criminal organizations on a global level, $189 million less than in the 2016 fiscal year.
Sastry, the US official cited above, also promised that the United States would continue to “address those root causes” which immigration within the northern triangle of Central America creates, such as poverty or corruption, in spite of these cuts.