US Cuts Funding for ’Promoting Democracy’ in Cuba by 50%

The cut in funds for US diplomacy responds to Donald Trump’s policy of focusing on “the United States first.” (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio (with information from news agencies), 12 February 2018 — The 2019 budget presented by the US State Department on Monday reflects the Trump Administration’s desire to focus on “the United States first” and to curb spending abroad, as evidenced by the drastic reduction of 32% in the budget for the highest level of American diplomacy.

The budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which was presented on Monday and still must be submitted to the Congress for approval, contemplates a cut of 17.8 billion dollars in funds for the State Department, reducing its budget from $55.6 billion in 2017 to just $37.8 billion in 2019.

The budget cut has not affected “funds for development and economic support,” which is proposed to increase from 4.7 billion dollars in 2017 to $5.1 billion in 2019, as reported by the State Department, but it would negatively impact countries like Cuba.

The island will be allocated 10 million dollars to “promote democracy, human rights and freedom,” a 50% reduction. Meanwhile Venezuela will be awarded, for the first time, $9 million.

The cut to funds for US diplomacy as a whole contrasts with the increase of funds destined to the Department of Defense, which has already received the approval of the Senate for 716 billion dollars for the 2019 budget.

“The budget reflects that we are facing adversaries and political, economic and military competitors that have led us to adjust our national security strategy,” Trump said in the preface to the White House budget proposal.

With regards to the State Department’s portfolio, especially significant is the cut in the US contribution to international organizations, which would go from $3.3 billion in 2017 to 2.2 billion in the next fiscal year.

The US contribution to the general budget of the United Nations would be $443 billion in 2019 compared to $593 billion approved in 2017. Agencies and activities linked to the United Nations would experience a cut of  $293 million.

In addition, the amount of funds earmarked for peace operations would be significantly reduced, going from 1.9 billion dollars in 2017 to just 1.2 billion dollars in the new proposal.

Nevertheless, Secretary of the Department of State, Rex Tillerson, said in the preface of the budget proposal that “selective investments” in this area will allow the United States and its partners “advance common interests and promote global peace.”

Tillerson added, “These investments allow the United States to maintain its position as a global leader, at the same time as other nations make a greater proportionate effort in their contributions for common objectives.”

In this regard, it should be noted that NATO will benefit from an increase in the US contribution, with an increase from $53.5 billion in 2017 to $70.2 billion in the next budget.

The Pentagon’s chief, James Mattis, who is currently in Europe, where he plans to participate in the NATO Defense meeting to be held this week in Brussels, asked last week for a greater contribution from the countries involved in the war against terrorism.

In this regard, the State Department explained through a statement that this item is being decreased with the “expectation” that other member countries of international organizations “will face their fair contribution.”

Also in the column of cuts is the World Health Organization (WHO), which suffers a considerable reduction, close to 50%, from $111.4 billion in 2017 to $58.2 billion in 2019.

Assistance for migration and refugees will also be reduced in the new budget, going from $3.4 billion in 2017 to $2.8 billion in 2019.

“The budget contemplates the necessary resources to progress in aspects of peace and security and respond to global crises, while prioritizing the efficient use of taxpayer resources,” Tillerson said in a statement.


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