Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | February 1, 2011

Colombia Helping the U.S. to Help Mexico

The Colombian military has been training the Mexican authorities on how to handle the increasing threat of drug cartels in Mexico, the Washington Post reported.

About 7,000 Mexicans have participated in the training so far, and it’s paid for in part by $800,000 in U.S. funds.

To use Colombia is a politically creative way to funnel U.S. aid to Mexico. It avoids a myriad of (time-consuming) problems that Washington faces when aiding the Colombian authorities: the debates to put a cap on the number of people stationed in the country doing the training and under what capacity (can some not be counted because they are “advisors”?), as well as debates on human rights, and on which state will benefit and get the contract to produce the hardware.

The U.S. is not always liked for playing the role of “global police,” and that’s one reason the U.S. has not ratified the International Criminal Court. By using Colombia to get involved in Mexico, it avoids the issue of an American citizen charged in the ICC in retaliation.

In a region where Colombia is the U.S.’s biggest ally, as well as the recipient of $9 billion dollars’ worth of mostly military hardware, going back to the Clinton administration, the government of Juan Manuel Santos is making a statement by helping the U.S. to help Mexico. For years, Colombia has held a strained relationship with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez—until recently when Santos somewhat mended the strain. We’ll have to wait for Chavez’s statement that Santos is “the servant of the empire,” (as he has referred to former President Uribe in the past). And we’ll have to see if this will help Colombia to get a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.

Reader Juan Forero’s report for NPR here.

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Responses

  1. Hola Paula,

    this whole business of Colombia advising other countries now fighting against narco guerrillas, seems a bit rich to me. Mexico’s situation is totally different. For one, the Mexican State won’t be able to push this problem south of the border, as Colombia has successfully done with Plan Colombia. UN figures show that some 80% of Colombia’s drug produce enters the international market via Venezuela.

    The tragic part, for us Venezuelans, is that first Uribe and now Santos are quite happy to turn a blind eye on whatever Chavez does, so long as some ‘peace’ is maintained within Colombian borders. As I said to former VP Santos Calderon, what Colombia is doing amounts to complicity with the FARC, by leveraging the intel it has on Chavez’s connections to narcoterrorists groups.

    On the other hand, $9 billion is nothing next to the kind of money Chavez and his criminal partners command. The irony is that Venezuela, unlike Colombia, has a de facto free trade agreement with US. And so does Mexico.


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