Colombia’s New Budget

Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe Velez has devised a new spending plan for 2005 that seeks to increase Colombia’s expenditures to the tune of 92 trillion pesos, an increase of almost 20% when compared to the 2004 budget. The proposed increase, which has been made possible through recent structural adjustment agreements between the state and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has been reported as an investment in the people and the social institutions within Colombia. However, if one examines the new budget being proposed by Uribe they will find something much more sinister.

The income on which the country is to draw this incredible sum was made available through a new set of loans avowed to increase spending within the spheres of education, healthcare and infrastructure; however, the IMF stated that the loans would only be delivered as long as the social programs are financed by state asset sales. Therefore, a continued reduction of the public sector will inevitably be one of the results of these “social investments”. Another consequence of these loans will be an increased debt paid for through increased taxation and pension reform, largely suffered by the working class. The final outcome and the 2005 budget proposal, and the topic of this article, is of a much more tortuous and violent nature.

The Uribe administration has proposed an incredible increase in “security” spending through direct and indirect means. The state request intends on increasing funding for defense-or offense, as is being recognized through Plan Patriota-to a whopping 9.7 trillion pesos for 2005 alone. This is over a 100% increase of internal state-based military spending since 1998 (4.6 trillion pesos). In spite of this, Uribe has created an additional “backdoor” to further military endowments through a circuitous “Investment Budget”. The “investment budget” states that a total of 11.4 trillion pesos will be allotted to infrastructure projects, housing, and other projects to help the poor. The implicit aspect of the program however is that Uribe also placed “military equipment” under the “investment budget” section. Through doing so, an enormous increase to the already extravagant 9.7 trillion pesos can take place. This is very threatening to the Colombian population in several different but interrelated ways.

Firstly, one must understand that over 65% of the Colombians living in Bogotá, Barrancabermeja, Cali, and other urban regions live in poverty and this number is inflated even further when one examines the rural regions of the country where the number is 80% to 85%. The disturbing reality is that Uribe demonstrates his contempt for the people of Colombia by putting forth a plan which recommends subtracting well over 10% of the country’s monetary capital and directing it toward instruments of death, controlled by a (para)military which has been repeatedly found guilty of human rights abuses, massacres, rape, and torture.

Other methods of societal inclusion and betterment are available and not that far off. Uribe could learn a great deal from his political neighbor Hugo Chavez who has exemplified, through the Bolivarian Revolution, that the state can utilize its resources by using its surplus capital by investing in the countries impoverished majority (the very ones whose lands are exploited to obtain profit through the resources extraction) and not a select minority within Bogotá, the United States, Canada, and the E.U.

Uribe, and the international community, could also tangibly recognize the social, political, economic, and cultural advancements that have been and were presented to the people of Colombia through the FARC-EP (in the Demilitarized Zone) during the peace talks of 1999-2002. To do so however would be to prove the benefits of an alternative political formula that follows a revolutionary model of change and a Bolivarian method of internal enhancement as opposed to a system which supports kneeling to imperialist interests. Uribe subscribes to a different ideology; a dogma that chooses not to put the people’s interests, or their income, toward bettering the socio-economic conditions that proportionately cause the fiscal inequality recognized throughout Colombia. It is because of this socio-political and economic position that Uribe has proposed a budget which will further the war, a war of the people against the state.

By increasing military expenditure the Colombian state has not only detracted from economically supporting the people, nor has it respected the Colombian populace and international community who can easily see through their true purpose of destroying any opposition to their fascist model of exploitation and control. In actuality the state has failed to recognize that with this requested monetary increase in military violence it will increase the people’s support and growth of the insurgency.

If the congress passes this proposed budget the state will not cease the already abundant and growing opposition within Colombia but it will in reality increase the body of people that are struggling to defeat the state, in the purpose of establishing a movement and government that supports social justice and a New Colombia. 

James J. Brittain is a Ph.D. Candidate from the University of New Brunswick, Canada

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