U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY2018 Appropriations

The United States provides foreign assistance to the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean to support development and other U.S. objectives. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to promoting democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Over the past year, the Trump Administration has sought to reduce foreign aid significantly and refocus U.S. assistance efforts in the region to address U.S. domestic concerns, such as irregular migration and transnational crime.

FY2018 Request

For FY2018, the Trump Administration requested $1.1 billion to be provided to Latin America and the Caribbean through foreign assistance accounts managed by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This would be $614 million, or 36%, less than the $1.7 billion of U.S. assistance the region received in FY2017. The proposal would cut funding for nearly every type of assistance and would reduce aid for every Latin American and Caribbean nation. The Trump Administration also proposed the elimination of the Inter-American Foundation, a small, independent U.S. foreign assistance agency that promotes grassroots development in the region.

The Administration’s efforts to scale back U.S. assistance could have significant implications for U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean. The proposed cuts could accelerate U.S. efforts to transition countries in the region away from traditional development assistance and toward other forms of bilateral engagement. Reductions in State Department-managed security assistance could lead to the Department of Defense taking on a larger role in U.S. security cooperation. Moreover, the Administration’s proposed cuts, combined with other policy shifts, could contribute to a relative decline in U.S. influence in the region.

Legislative Developments

On January 22, 2018, President Trump signed into law a fourth short-term continuing resolution (P.L. 115-120, preceded by P.L. 115-96, P.L. 115-90 and P.L. 115-56), which funds foreign aid programs at the FY2017 level, reduced by 0.6791%, through February 8, 2018. As Congress considers appropriations for the remainder of FY2018, it may draw from the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations measures for FY2018 that were passed by the House (H.R. 3362, H.Rept. 115-253, which was included as Division G of House-passed H.R. 3354) and reported in the Senate (S. 1780, S.Rept. 115-152). The bills and their accompanying reports do not specify appropriations levels for every Latin American and Caribbean nation. Nevertheless, the amounts the measures designate for several significant initiatives indicate that total funding for the region would exceed the Administration’s request:

The House bill would provide $615 million to continue implementation of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America; the Senate bill would provide $600 million. The Administration requested $460 million.

The House bill would provide nearly $336 million to support the peace process and security and development efforts in Colombia; the Senate bill would provide $391 million. The Administration requested $251 million.

The House bill would provide nearly $137 million to support security and rule-of-law efforts in Mexico; the Senate bill would provide at least $144 million. The Administration requested $88 million.

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY2018 Appropriations

February 5, 2018 (R45089)
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Contents

Summary

The United States provides foreign assistance to the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean to support development and other U.S. objectives. U.S. policymakers have emphasized different strategic interests in the region at different times, from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to promoting democracy and open markets since the 1990s. Over the past year, the Trump Administration has sought to reduce foreign aid significantly and refocus U.S. assistance efforts in the region to address U.S. domestic concerns, such as irregular migration and transnational crime.

FY2018 Request

For FY2018, the Trump Administration requested $1.1 billion to be provided to Latin America and the Caribbean through foreign assistance accounts managed by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This would be $614 million, or 36%, less than the $1.7 billion of U.S. assistance the region received in FY2017. The proposal would cut funding for nearly every type of assistance and would reduce aid for every Latin American and Caribbean nation. The Trump Administration also proposed the elimination of the Inter-American Foundation, a small, independent U.S. foreign assistance agency that promotes grassroots development in the region.

The Administration's efforts to scale back U.S. assistance could have significant implications for U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean. The proposed cuts could accelerate U.S. efforts to transition countries in the region away from traditional development assistance and toward other forms of bilateral engagement. Reductions in State Department-managed security assistance could lead to the Department of Defense taking on a larger role in U.S. security cooperation. Moreover, the Administration's proposed cuts, combined with other policy shifts, could contribute to a relative decline in U.S. influence in the region.

Legislative Developments

On January 22, 2018, President Trump signed into law a fourth short-term continuing resolution (P.L. 115-120, preceded by P.L. 115-96, P.L. 115-90 and P.L. 115-56), which funds foreign aid programs at the FY2017 level, reduced by 0.6791%, through February 8, 2018. As Congress considers appropriations for the remainder of FY2018, it may draw from the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations measures for FY2018 that were passed by the House (H.R. 3362, H.Rept. 115-253, which was included as Division G of House-passed H.R. 3354) and reported in the Senate (S. 1780, S.Rept. 115-152). The bills and their accompanying reports do not specify appropriations levels for every Latin American and Caribbean nation. Nevertheless, the amounts the measures designate for several significant initiatives indicate that total funding for the region would exceed the Administration's request:

  • The House bill would provide $615 million to continue implementation of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America; the Senate bill would provide $600 million. The Administration requested $460 million.
  • The House bill would provide nearly $336 million to support the peace process and security and development efforts in Colombia; the Senate bill would provide $391 million. The Administration requested $251 million.
  • The House bill would provide nearly $137 million to support security and rule-of-law efforts in Mexico; the Senate bill would provide at least $144 million. The Administration requested $88 million.

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY2018 Appropriations

Introduction

Foreign assistance is one of the tools the United States employs to advance U.S. interests in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the focus and funding levels of aid programs change along with broader U.S. policy goals.1 Current aid programs reflect the diverse needs of the countries in the region (see Figure 1 for a map of Latin America and the Caribbean). Some countries receive the full range of U.S. assistance as they struggle with political, socioeconomic, and security challenges. Others have made major strides in consolidating democratic governance and improving living conditions; these countries no longer receive traditional U.S. development assistance but typically receive some U.S. support to address security challenges, such as transnational crime.

Congress authorizes and appropriates foreign assistance to the region and conducts oversight of aid programs and the executive branch agencies charged with managing them. The Trump Administration has proposed significant reductions in foreign assistance expenditures to shift resources to other budget priorities. The Administration also is reassessing the objectives of U.S. foreign assistance efforts, including those in Latin America and the Caribbean. Any shifts in aid funding levels or priorities, however, would have to be approved by Congress.

This report provides an overview of U.S. assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean. It examines historical and recent trends in aid to the region; the Trump Administration's FY2018 budget request for aid administered by the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Inter-American Foundation; and legislative developments on FY2018 foreign aid appropriations. It also analyzes how the Administration's proposed cuts could affect U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Report Notes

To more accurately compare the Administration's FY2018 foreign assistance request to previous years' appropriations, aid figures in this report (except where otherwise indicated) refer only to bilateral assistance that is managed by the State Department or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and is requested for individual countries or regional programs. Nearly 70% of the assistance obligated by all U.S. agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean from FY2013-FY2016 was provided through the foreign assistance accounts that are examined in this report.

Nevertheless, there are several other sources of U.S. assistance to the region. Some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean receive U.S. assistance through State Department- and USAID-managed foreign assistance accounts, such as International Disaster Assistance, Migration and Refugee Assistance, and Transition Initiatives. Likewise, some nations receive assistance from U.S. agencies such as the Department of Defense, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Peace Corps. Moreover, multilateral organizations that the United States supports financially, such as the Organization of American States, provide additional aid to some countries in the region. Those accounts and agencies are excluded from this analysis because they do not request assistance for individual countries and because country-level figures are not publicly available until after the fiscal year has passed.

Figure 1. Map of Latin America and the Caribbean

Source: Map Resources, edited by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Trends in U.S. Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States has long been a major contributor of foreign assistance to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Between 1946 and 2016, the United States provided the region with nearly $86 billion ($176 billion in constant 2016 dollars) of assistance.2 U.S. assistance to the region spiked in the early 1960s following the introduction of President John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress, an antipoverty initiative that sought to counter Soviet and Cuban influence in the aftermath of Fidel Castro's 1959 seizure of power in Cuba. After a period of decline, U.S. assistance to the region increased again following the 1979 assumption of power by the leftist Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Throughout the 1980s, the United States provided considerable support to Central American governments battling leftist insurgencies to prevent potential Soviet allies from establishing political or military footholds in the region. U.S. aid flows declined in the mid-1990s following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Central American conflicts (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. U.S. Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY1946-FY2016

Source: CRS presentation of data from U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Foreign Aid Explorer: The Official Record of U.S. Foreign Aid, at https://explorer.usaid.gov/aid-dashboard.html.

Notes: Includes aid obligations from all U.S. government agencies. Obligation data for FY2017 are not yet available.

U.S. foreign assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean began to increase once again in the late 1990s and remained on a generally upward trajectory through the past decade. The higher levels of assistance were partially the result of increased spending on humanitarian and development assistance. In the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the United States provided extensive humanitarian and reconstruction aid to several countries in Central America. The establishment of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in 2003 and the Millennium Challenge Corporation in 2004 provided a number of countries in the region with new sources of U.S. assistance.3 The United States also provided significant assistance to Haiti in the aftermath of a massive January 2010 earthquake.

Increased funding for counternarcotics and security programs also contributed to the rise in U.S. assistance through 2010. Beginning with President Bill Clinton and the 106th Congress in FY2000, successive Administrations and Congresses have provided substantial amounts of foreign aid to Colombia and its Andean neighbors to combat drug trafficking in the region and end Colombia's long-running internal armed conflict. Spending received another boost in FY2008 when President George W. Bush joined with his Mexican counterpart to announce the Mérida Initiative, a package of U.S. counterdrug and anticrime assistance for Mexico and Central America. In FY2010, Congress and the Obama Administration split the Central American portion of the Mérida Initiative into a separate Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and created a similar program for the countries of the Caribbean known as the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).

After more than a decade of generally increasing aid levels, U.S. assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean began to decline in FY2011. Although the decline was partially the result of reductions in the overall U.S. foreign assistance budget, it also reflected changes in the region. As a result of stronger economic growth and the implementation of more effective social policies, the percentage of people living in poverty in Latin America fell from 46% in 2002 to 31% in 2016.4 Likewise, democracy has spread and taken hold throughout the region, despite some recent setbacks. Some nations, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay, are now in a position to provide technical assistance to other countries in the region. Other nations, such as Bolivia and Ecuador, have expelled U.S. personnel and opposed U.S. assistance projects, leading to the closure of USAID offices. Collectively, these changes have resulted in the U.S. government concentrating foreign assistance resources in fewer countries and sectors.5

Trump Administration's FY2018 Foreign Assistance Request6

The Trump Administration requested $1.1 billion to be provided to Latin America and the Caribbean through foreign assistance accounts managed by the State Department and USAID in FY2018, which would be $614 million, or 36%, less than the $1.7 billion of assistance provided to the region in FY2017 (see Table 1). The Administration also proposed the elimination of the Inter-American Foundation, a small, independent U.S. foreign assistance agency that promotes grassroots development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The proposed cuts in assistance to the region are slightly larger than those proposed for the global foreign operations budget, which would decline by 31% compared to FY2017.7 If the Administration's budget proposal were enacted, foreign assistance funding for Latin America and the Caribbean would be lower than any year since FY2001 (in nominal terms).

Foreign Assistance Categories and Accounts8

About $516 million (47%) of the Administration's FY2018 foreign aid request for Latin America and the Caribbean would be provided through a new Economic Support and Development Fund (ESDF). The ESDF foreign assistance account would consolidate aid that currently is provided through the Development Assistance (DA) and Economic Support Fund (ESF) accounts to support democracy, the rule of law, economic reform, education, agriculture, and natural resource management. Whereas the DA account is often used for long-term projects to foster broad-based economic progress and social stability in developing countries, the ESDF account, like the ESF account, would be focused more on countries and programs that are deemed critical to short-term U.S. security and strategic objectives. The FY2018 request includes $327 million (39%) less funding for the ESDF account than was provided to the region through the DA and ESF accounts combined in FY2017.

Another $145 million (13%) of the Administration's FY2018 request for the region would be provided through the two Global Health Programs (GHP) foreign assistance accounts. This includes $120 million requested through the State Department GHP account for HIV/AIDS programs and $25 million requested through the USAID GHP account to support maternal and child health, nutrition, and malaria programs. Under the FY2018 request for the region, funding for the State Department GHP account would increase by $2 million (2%) and funding for the USAID GHP account would decline by $39 million (61%) compared to FY2017.

The remaining $432.5 million (40%) of the Administration's FY2018 request for Latin America and the Caribbean would support security assistance programs. This includes the following:

  • $398 million requested through the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) foreign assistance account for counternarcotics and civilian law enforcement efforts and projects intended to strengthen judicial institutions. INCLE funding for the region would decline by $135 million (25%) compared to FY2017.
  • $22.9 million requested through the Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR) account, which funds efforts to counter global threats, such as terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as humanitarian demining programs. NADR funding would decline by $2.5 million (10%) compared to FY2017.
  • $11.6 million requested through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) account to train Latin American and Caribbean military personnel. IMET funding would decline by nearly $2 million (14%) compared to FY2017.

The FY2018 request would zero out Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance, which is used to purchase U.S.-made defense equipment, for Latin American and Caribbean nations.9 FMF assistance for the region totaled $83 million in FY2017.

Table 1. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean by Account: FY2013-FY2018

(appropriations in millions of current U.S. dollars)

Account

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018 (Request)

% Change 2017-2018

DA

305.9

214.4

214.1

484.4

484.4

0.0

a

ESF

447.5

459.3

583.1

402.9

359.0

0.0

a

ESDF

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

516.1

-39%a

GHP (USAID)

78.9

63.1

66.1

66.4

64.4

25.0

-61%

GHP (State)

173.5

157.4

142.5

123.0

117.7

120.0

+2%

P.L. 480

40.5

29.1

21.0

15.7

27.0

0.0

-100%

INCLE

550.9

467.1

483.2

524.4

533.2

398.0

-25%

NADR

15.0

14.5

12.6

8.6

25.4

22.9

-10%

IMET

12.9

13.5

13.5

13.0

13.5

11.6

-14%

FMF

59.2

59.3

48.8

69.4

82.7

0.0

-100%

Total

1,684.5

1,477.6

1,584.8

1,707.6

1,707.3

1,093.6

-36%

Sources: U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justifications for Foreign Operations, FY2015-FY2018, at http://www.state.gov/f/releases/iab/index.htm; U.S. Department of State, "FY2017 653(a) All Spigots Final," August 9, 2017.

Notes: DA = Development Assistance; ESF = Economic Support Fund; ESDF=Economic Support and Development Fund; GHP = Global Health Programs; P.L. 480 = Food for Peace/Food Aid; INCLE = International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement; NADR = Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs; IMET = International Military Education and Training; and FMF = Foreign Military Financing.

a. The FY2018 request includes a new ESDF foreign assistance account, which would consolidate the DA and ESF accounts. This table compares the FY2018 ESDF request to the combined amount provided through the DA and ESF accounts in FY2017.

Major Country and Regional Programs

The Trump Administration's FY2018 foreign assistance request would reduce funding for every country and regional program in Latin America and the Caribbean (see Table 2). Some of the most notable reductions are discussed below.

The FY2018 request included $460 million to continue the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, which would be a $195 million (30%) cut compared to FY2017.10 The strategy is designed to address the underlying conditions driving irregular migration from the region by promoting good governance, economic prosperity, and improved security. The request included $46.3 million for El Salvador (a 36% reduction), $80.7 million for Guatemala (a 43% reduction), $67.9 million for Honduras (a 29% reduction), and $2 million combined for Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama (a 90% reduction). It also included $263.2 million for the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI; a 20% reduction). The request would shift the balance of aid for Central America toward security efforts and away from governance and economic growth programs.

Colombia would continue to be the single largest recipient of U.S. assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean under the FY2018 request; however, aid would fall to $251.4 million—a $140 million (36%) reduction compared to FY2017. Colombia has received significant amounts of U.S. assistance to support counternarcotics and counterterrorism efforts since FY2000. The FY2018 request would support the implementation of Colombia's new counternarcotics strategy, including eradication and interdiction efforts. The request also would support implementation of the Colombian government's peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) by fostering reconciliation within Colombian society, expanding state presence to regions historically under FARC control, and supporting rural economic development in marginalized communities.11

Haiti, which has received high levels of aid for many years as a result of its significant development challenges, once again would be the second-largest recipient of U.S. assistance in the region in FY2018 under the Administration's request. U.S. assistance increased significantly after Haiti was struck by a massive earthquake in January 2010 but has gradually declined from those elevated levels. The Administration's FY2018 request would provide $157.5 million to Haiti to improve food security, foster economic and educational opportunities, develop the rule of law, and address health challenges—particularly HIV/AIDS. This would be a $19 million (11%) cut compared to FY2017.12

Mexico would receive $87.7 million of assistance under the FY2018 request. This would be a $51 million (37%) cut compared to FY2017, but Mexico would continue to be the third-largest aid recipient in the region. Mexico traditionally had not been a major U.S. aid recipient due to its middle-income status, but it began receiving larger amounts of assistance through the Mérida Initiative in FY2008. The Administration's FY2018 request for Mexico would support continued efforts to strengthen the rule of law; secure borders and ports; and combat transnational organized crime, including opium poppy cultivation and heroin production.13

The FY2018 request would provide $36.2 million for the CBSI, which would be a $22 million (37%) cut compared to FY2017. The CBSI funds maritime and aerial security cooperation, law enforcement capacity building, border and port security, justice sector reform, and crime prevention programs in the Caribbean.14

The Administration's FY2018 budget proposal did not specifically request any democracy assistance to support civil society groups in Cuba or Venezuela. In FY2017, democracy assistance totaled $20 million in Cuba and $7 million in Venezuela.15

Table 2. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean by Country or Regional Program: FY2013-FY2018

(appropriations in thousands of current U.S. dollars)

 

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018 (Request)

% Change FY2017-FY2018

Argentina

765

589

576

579

550

500

-9%

Bahamas

164

172

200

207

200

100

-50%

Belize

1,012

1,234

1,058

1,243

1,250

200

-84%

Bolivia

5,171

0

0

0

0

0

Brazil

15,185

13,858

11,586

12,858

11,665

815

-93%

Chile

1,038

1,082

1,032

670

700

500

-29%

Colombia

359,754

330,601

307,776

299,434

391,253

251,400

-36%

Costa Rica

1,624

1,731

1,673

1,819

5,725

400

-93%

Cuba

19,283

20,000

20,000

20,000

20,000

0

-100%

Dominican Republic

26,407

23,248

22,350

21,615

13,772

10,500

-24%

Ecuador

18,846

2,000

0

2,000

1,789

0

-100%

El Salvador

27,566

21,631

46,549

67,900

72,700

46,300

-36%

Guatemala

80,779

65,278

113,099

131,226

140,540

80,660

-43%

Guyana

9,150

6,904

4,692

243

250

200

-20%

Haiti

332,540

300,796

242,922

190,744

176,568

157,455

-11%

Honduras

51,980

41,847

71,191

98,250

95,300

67,850

-29%

Jamaica

7,061

6,670

5,573

5,065

10,600

500

-95%

Mexico

265,064

206,768

165,168

160,156

138,566

87,660

-37%

Nicaragua

8,599

8,400

12,054

10,000

9,680

200

-98%

Panama

3,449

2,986

4,077

3,346

3,225

1,200

-63%

Paraguay

6,041

7,528

7,980

8,620

6,520

400

-94%

Peru

98,634

82,649

84,079

74,898

64,450

49,691

-23%

Suriname

213

212

199

215

215

200

-7%

Trinidad and Tobago

167

179

308

325

325

160

-51%

Uruguay

427

725

550

499

500

400

-20%

Venezuela

5,786

4,298

4,256

6,500

7,000

0

-100%

Barbados and Eastern Caribbean

32,248

16,734

24,692

26,425

26,730

15,500

-42%

USAID Caribbean Development

0

0

4,000

4,000

3,000

0

-100%

USAID Central America Regional

33,065

33,492

50,762

39,761

38,316

10,000

-74%

USAID South America Regional

13,072

16,500

12,000

12,000

14,000

0

-100%

USAID Latin America and Caribbean Regional

38,089

29,050

22,500

28,360

26,700

10,800

-60%

State Western Hemisphere Regional

221,291

230,449

341,938

478,668

425,471

299,960

-30%

[CARSI]

[145,619]

[161,500]

[270,000]

[348,500]

[329,225]

[263,200]

-20%

[CBSI]

[60,296]

[63,500]

[58,500]

[57,721]

[57,700]

[36,200]

-37%

Total

1,684,470

1,477,611

1,584,840

1,707,626

1,707,290

1,093,551

-36%

Sources: U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justifications for Foreign Operations, FY2015-FY2018, at http://www.state.gov/f/releases/iab/index.htm; U.S. Department of State, "FY2017 653(a) All Spigots Final," August 9, 2017.

Notes: CARSI = Central America Regional Security Initiative; CBSI = Caribbean Basin Security Initiative. USAID and State Department regional programs fund region-wide initiatives as well as activities that cross borders or take place in non-presence countries. CARSI and CBSI are funded through the State Western Hemisphere Regional program.

Inter-American Foundation

In addition to the proposed reductions to State Department and USAID-managed assistance for the region, discussed above, the Trump Administration's FY2018 budget request calls for the elimination of the Inter-American Foundation (IAF). The IAF is an independent U.S. foreign assistance agency established by Congress through the Foreign Assistance Act of 1969 (22 U.S.C. §290f) to channel development assistance directly to the people of Latin America. Congress created the agency after conducting a comprehensive review of previous assistance efforts and determining that programs conducted at the government-to-government level had largely failed to promote social and civic change in the region despite fostering economic growth.16

With annual appropriations that have totaled $22.5 million in recent years, the IAF provides grants and other targeted assistance directly to the organized poor to foster economic and social development and to encourage civic engagement in their communities. The IAF is active in 20 countries in the region—including eight countries in which USAID no longer has a presence—and has focused particularly on migrant-sending communities in Central America in recent years. The Trump Administration maintains that IAF programs are "not critical to U.S. foreign policy and are potentially duplicative of other efforts," and has requested $4.6 million to conduct an orderly closeout of the agency in FY2018 (see Table 3).17 Proponents note that Congress specifically created the IAF as an alternative to other U.S. agencies and argue that the IAF's distinct approach, which is designed to help marginalized communities help themselves, is more efficient and effective than traditional aid programs.18

Table 3. Inter-American Foundation Appropriations: FY2013-FY2018

(appropriations in millions of current U.S. dollars)

FY2013

FY2014

FY2015

FY2016

FY2017

FY2018 (Request)

% Change FY2017-FY2018

21.4

22.5

22.5

22.5

22.5

4.6

-80%

Sources: U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justifications for Foreign Operations, FY2015-FY2018, at http://www.state.gov/f/releases/iab/index.htm.

Note: The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) receives additional funding through the Social Progress Trust Fund, which is administered by the Inter-American Development Bank and consists of repayments for U.S. government loans to Latin American countries under the Alliance for Progress. The trust fund is diminishing as the loans reach the end of their repayment periods. The IAF will receive an estimated $1.4 million through the trust fund in FY2018, down from $4.6 million in FY2016 and a historical average of $8.7 million.

Legislative Developments

On January 22, 2018, President Trump signed into law a continuing resolution (P.L. 115-120) that funds foreign aid programs at the FY2017 level, reduced by 0.6791%, through February 8, 2018. The measure was preceded by three other short-term continuing resolutions (P.L. 115-56, P.L. 115-90, P.L. 115-96) that provided funding between October 1, 2017 and January 19, 2018.

As Congress considers appropriations for the remainder of FY2018, it may draw from the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations measures for FY2018 that were passed by the House (H.R. 3362, H.Rept. 115-253, which was included as Division G of House-passed H.R. 3354) and reported in the Senate (S. 1780, S.Rept. 115-152). The House bill includes $25.5 billion for bilateral economic assistance and security assistance globally, which is $5.7 billion (29%) more than the Administration's request and $2.9 billion (10%) less than the FY2017-enacted amount. The Senate bill includes $26.2 billion for bilateral economic assistance and security assistance globally, which is $6.3 billion (32%) more than the Administration's request and $2.3 billion (8%) less than the FY2017-enacted amount.19

The total amount of foreign assistance that the measures would provide to Latin America and the Caribbean is unclear because the bills and their accompanying reports do not specify appropriations levels for every country and program. Nevertheless, congressional priorities appear to differ from those of the Trump Administration in several respects (see Table 4).

Table 4. U.S. Foreign Assistance for Selected Countries and Programs: FY2017 Appropriations and FY2018 Request and Congressional Action

(appropriations in millions of current U.S. dollars)

 

FY2017

FY2018 (Request)

FY2018 (House)

FY2018 (Senate)

U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America

655.0

460.0

615.0

600.0

Colombia

391.3

251.4

335.9

391.3

Mexico

138.6

87.7

136.7

143.5

Caribbean Basin Security Initiative

57.7

36.2

57.7

55.2

Cuba

20.0

0.0

30.0

15.0

Venezuela

7.0

0.0

8.0

15.0

Sources: U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justification, Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Fiscal Year 2018, May 23, 2017; U.S. Department of State, "FY2017 653(a) All Spigots Final," August 9, 2017; H.R. 3354; H.Rept. 115-253; S. 1780, and S.Rept. 115-152.

Note: These figures include amounts specified in the text of the bills as well as committee recommendations from the accompanying reports.

Central America. The House bill would provide $615 million to continue implementation of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, which is $155 million more than the Administration requested but $40 million less than Congress appropriated for the initiative in FY2017. According to the accompanying report, the measure would provide $55.3 million for El Salvador, $103.4 million for Guatemala, $82.9 million for Honduras, and $334.2 million for CARSI. The Senate bill would provide $600 million to continue implementation of the Central America strategy, which is $140 million more than requested but $55 million less than FY2017. According to the accompanying report, the bill would provide $63.7 million for El Salvador, $118.5 million for Guatemala, $86.3 million for Honduras, and $299.2 million for CARSI.

Colombia. The House bill would provide $335.9 million for Colombia, which is $84.5 million more than the Administration requested but $55.3 million less than Congress appropriated in FY2017. The Senate bill would provide $391.3 million for Colombia, which is $139.9 million more than requested and the same amount that was provided in FY2017.

Mexico. The report accompanying the House bill recommends $136.7 million for Mexico, which is $49 million more than requested but about $2 million less than was provided in FY2017. The report accompanying the Senate bill recommends at least $143.5 million for Mexico, which is $55.8 million more than requested and about $5 million more than was provided in FY2017.

CBSI. The report accompanying the House bill recommends $57.7 million for the CBSI, which is $21.5 million more than requested and the same amount that was provided in FY2017. The report accompanying the Senate bill recommends $55.2 million for the CBSI, which is $19 million more than requested but about $2 million less than Congress appropriated for the initiative in FY2017.

Cuba: The House bill would provide $30 million to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba, which is $10 million more than was appropriated for such programs in FY2017. The Senate bill would provide $15 million for democracy programs in Cuba, which is $5 million less than was provided in FY2017. The Trump Administration did not request any funding for democracy promotion in Cuba in FY2018.

Venezuela. The report accompanying the House bill recommends $8 million for democracy programs in Venezuela, which is $1 million more than was provided in FY2017. The Senate bill would provide $15 million to promote democracy in Venezuela, which is $8 million more than was provided in FY2017. The Trump Administration did not request any funding for democracy programs in Venezuela in FY2018.

Inter-American Foundation. The House bill would provide $11.25 million for the IAF, which is half the amount Congress appropriated for the agency in FY2017. The report accompanying the House bill also recommends transferring an additional $10 million from the DA account to the IAF to carry out programs in Central America. The Senate bill would provide $22.5 million for the IAF—the same amount the agency received in FY2017. The report accompanying the Senate bill also recommends transferring "not less than" $12 million in additional funding from the DA account to the IAF to support the Central America strategy.

Economic Support and Development Fund. Neither bill would approve the Administration's request to consolidate the DA, ESF, and other foreign assistance accounts into a new ESDF account. The report accompanying the House bill asserted that "there is merit to consolidating certain accounts if it achieves efficiencies while maintaining the integrity of the authorized purposes of such accounts" but deferred the decision until an ongoing management review at the State Department and USAID has concluded and the authorizing committees have reviewed the proposal. The report accompanying the Senate bill states that the Appropriations Committee "does not support consolidation" and that "the establishment of the ESDF account has not been justified."

Implications for U.S. Policy

The Trump Administration's desire to scale back U.S. foreign assistance could have significant implications for U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean in the coming years. In particular, it could accelerate U.S. efforts to transition countries in the region away from traditional development assistance and toward other forms of bilateral engagement. It also could result in the Department of Defense (DOD) taking on a larger role in U.S. security cooperation with the region. Moreover, the Administration's proposed foreign assistance cuts, combined with other policy shifts, could contribute to a relative decline in U.S. influence.

Aid Transitions

Over the past three decades, many Latin American and Caribbean countries have made major strides in consolidating democratic governance and improving living conditions for their citizens. As nations have achieved more advanced levels of development, the U.S. government has reduced the amount of assistance it provides to them while attempting to sustain long-standing relationships through other forms of engagement. Budget cuts often have accelerated this process by forcing U.S. agencies to refocus their assistance efforts on fewer countries. In the mid-1990s, for example, budget constraints compelled USAID to close its field offices in Argentina, Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, and Uruguay. Similarly, budget cuts in the aftermath of the recent global financial crisis contributed to USAID's decision to close its field offices in Guyana and Panama.

The Trump Administration's desire to reduce foreign assistance funding could contribute to a new round of aid transitions. The FY2018 budget request would zero out traditional development assistance for Brazil, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Paraguay and would reduce it significantly for several other countries in the region. It appears as though the Administration may push for further assistance cuts in the coming years, as the recently released National Security Strategy asserts that the United States "will shift away from a reliance on assistance based on grants to approaches that attract private capital and catalyze private sector activity."20

Some development experts caution that such transitions should be done in a strategic manner to ensure that partner countries are able to sustain the progress that has been made with past U.S. investments and to prevent ruptures in bilateral relations that could be exploited by competing powers and/or compromise U.S. interests. These experts argue that successful transitions require careful planning and close coordination across the U.S. government, as well as with partner-country governments, local stakeholders, and other international donors. In their view, a timeline of three to five years, at a minimum, is necessary for the transition process.21

A decision to no longer appropriate new foreign aid funds for a given country would not necessarily lead to an abrupt end to ongoing U.S. assistance programs. In recent years, Congress has appropriated most aid for Latin America and the Caribbean through foreign assistance accounts that provide the State Department and USAID with up to two fiscal years to obligate the funds and an additional four years to expend them.22 As a result, U.S. agencies often have a pipeline of previously appropriated funds available to be expended on assistance programs.

If aid transitions do occur, the United States could remain engaged with its partners in the region in several ways. As large-scale development programs are closed out, the U.S. government could use smaller, more nimble programs, such as those managed by the IAF, to maintain its presence in remote areas and continue to build relationships with local leaders. As grant assistance is withdrawn, the U.S. government could help partner countries mobilize private capital by entering into trade and investment agreements or by providing loan guarantees and technical assistance through agencies such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.23 As former aid recipients look to share their development expertise with other nations, the U.S. government could enter into trilateral cooperation initiatives to jointly fund and implement programs in third countries that remain priorities for U.S. assistance.

Congress could influence the pace and shape of aid transitions in the region. Through the appropriations process, Congress is empowered to designate specific funding levels for bilateral and regional assistance programs. It also could authorize the Administration to engage in other forms of cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean nations and appropriate funds for such purposes. Moreover, Congress could conduct oversight of the Administration's assistance efforts, and it could require the Administration to report on its strategy for closing out assistance programs.

Changes in Security Cooperation

The Trump Administration's approach toward Latin America and the Caribbean has focused heavily on U.S. security objectives. For example, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the FY2018 foreign assistance request for the region as a "comprehensive effort ... to shut down transnational criminal organizations and illicit pathways to U.S. borders, reducing the flow of illegal migration and illicit goods that threaten U.S. safety and security."24 Nevertheless, the Administration's FY2018 budget proposal would reduce State Department-managed security assistance to the region by nearly 34% compared to FY2017.

The proposed reduction in security assistance is partially due to the Trump Administration's intention to discontinue FMF grants to Latin American and Caribbean nations. Instead, the Administration would offer loans to regional partners that wish to purchase U.S.-made defense equipment. The Administration asserts that "loans provide an opportunity for the U.S. government to both promote U.S. industry and build key partners' defense capabilities while minimizing the burden on U.S. taxpayers."25 Some analysts disagree; they argue that converting FMF assistance from grants to loans would damage U.S. relations with foreign militaries and hinder partner countries' efforts to build and sustain the capabilities needed to contribute to U.S. and global security. 26 In Colombia, for example, the discontinuation of FMF grants reportedly could affect the country's ability to maintain its helicopter fleet, which is used to combat organized crime in remote areas.27

Some analysts have noted that the Trump Administration's proposed cuts to State Department-managed security assistance programs in Latin America and the Caribbean could be offset by increased support from DOD.28 Congress has authorized DOD to provide a wide range of security assistance to foreign nations (referred to as security cooperation by DOD) including many activities that overlap with those traditionally managed by the State Department.29 For example, 10 U.S.C. 333 authorizes DOD, with the concurrence of the State Department, to train and equip foreign security forces for counterterrorism operations, counter-weapons of mass destruction operations, counter-illicit drugs operations, counter-transnational organized crime operations, and maritime and border security operations, among other purposes.

Given the number of security challenges the United States faces around the globe, however, it is unclear whether DOD would devote increased funding to security cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean. DOD currently does not publish information on the total amount of funding it has allocated, or intends to allocate, to security cooperation activities in the region. Looking only at counternarcotics support, DOD's preliminary estimates indicate that total assistance for the region will fall slightly from $198.8 million in FY2017 to $194.6 million in FY2018.30

As a result of a provision (10 U.S.C. 381) enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2017 (P.L. 114-328), DOD is required to submit a formal, consolidated budget request for security cooperation efforts beginning with the FY2019 budget. This budget request could provide Congress with a better understanding of the scope of DOD security cooperation activities in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the extent to which those activities overlap with the State Department's security assistance programs. It also could provide Congress with greater control over the relative balance between security and non-security assistance to the region. Congress could place conditions on the security cooperation funds that DOD requests for specific nations in the same way it currently places conditions on State Department-managed security assistance, potentially enhancing Congress's ability to incentivize policy changes in recipient countries.

Potential Decline in U.S. Influence

Although the relative importance of foreign aid in U.S. relations with the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean has declined since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. government continues to use assistance to advance key policy initiatives in the region. In recent years, U.S. assistance has supported efforts to reduce illicit drug production and end the long-running internal conflict in Colombia, combat transnational organized crime in Mexico, and address the root causes that drive unauthorized migration to the United States from Central America. This assistance has enabled the U.S. government to influence the policies of partner countries, including the extent to which these countries dedicate resources to counternarcotics operations and other activities that they otherwise may not consider top priorities.

Some analysts contend that the Trump Administration's proposed foreign assistance cuts, if enacted, would "handicap the growth and stability of some of the U.S.'s closest trading partners and allies and diminish U.S. influence in the region."31 They argue that the cuts threaten the success of Colombia's peace process and the fragile security and rule-of-law progress that has been made in Central America.32 Other analysts note that most Latin American and Caribbean nations are no longer dependent on foreign aid. They maintain that steep cuts in assistance would be damaging to Haiti, which receives the equivalent of nearly 10% of its budget from U.S. assistance, but would have limited impact in countries such as Colombia, where U.S. assistance accounts for 0.4% of the budget. In Central America, budgetary dependence on U.S. aid tops out at 2.3% in Honduras.33 Proponents of the Administration's budget request argue that an overhaul of U.S. assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean is "long overdue" and that the region would benefit from cuts that improve the focus and efficiency of foreign aid programs.34

In the view of some observers, the Administration's proposed foreign assistance cuts are part of a broader trend of U.S. disengagement from Latin America and the Caribbean. Noting that the Administration has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, threatened to withdraw from the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and sought to sharply curtail immigration, they argue that the Administration "has only pursued a 'negative agenda' toward the region." They contend that this has created a leadership vacuum in the region that other powers have begun to fill.35 China, which has become the top trading partner of many South American countries, reportedly has offered the region $250 billion in investment over the next decade.36 Some analysts warn that China has begun to leverage its significant commercial ties into other forms of power, which could come at the expense of the United States.37 Others note that it may not be a zero-sum game and that the region's increased ties with China do not necessarily portend a loss of U.S. influence.38

Over the past year, public approval of U.S. leadership in the Americas has declined from 49% to 24% and disapproval has climbed from 27% to 58%.39 These relatively high disapproval ratings could constrain the ability of leaders in the hemisphere to work with President Trump, particularly in the six countries preparing to hold presidential elections in 2018.

Appendix A. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean by Account and Country or Regional Program: FY2016

Table A-1. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY2016

(appropriations in millions of current U.S. dollars)

 

DA

ESF

GHP-USAID

GHP-State

P.L. 480

INCLE

NADR

IMET

FMF

Total

Argentina

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.4

0.0

0.6

Bahamas

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Belize

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

1.0

1.2

Bolivia

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Brazil

11.5

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.6

0.0

12.9

Chile

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.5

0.0

0.7

Colombia

0.0

126.0

0.0

0.0

6.4

135.2

3.5

1.4

27.0

299.4

Costa Rica

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.4

1.4

1.8

Cuba

0.0

20.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

20.0

Dominican Republic

6.5

0.0

5.4

9.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.6

0.0

21.6

Ecuador

2.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

2.0

El Salvador

65.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.0

1.9

67.9

Guatemala

112.0

0.0

13.0

0.0

3.7

0.0

0.0

0.8

1.7

131.2

Guyana

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Haiti

65.2

0.0

25.2

87.2

5.7

6.0

0.0

0.2

1.2

190.7

Honduras

93.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.8

4.5

98.3

Jamaica

4.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.6

0.0

5.1

Mexico

10.5

39.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

100.0

2.2

1.5

7.0

160.2

Nicaragua

10.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

10.0

Panama

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.7

2.1

3.3

Paraguay

8.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

8.6

Peru

35.1

2.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

36.0

0.0

0.6

1.0

74.9

Suriname

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Trinidad and Tobago

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.3

0.0

0.3

Uruguay

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

Venezuela

0.0

6.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

6.5

Barbados and Eastern Caribbean

4.9

0.0

6.5

14.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.7

0.0

26.4

USAID Caribbean Developmenta

4.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

4.0

USAID Central America Regionala

19.4

0.0

8.4

12.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

39.8

USAID South America Regionala

12.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

12.0

USAID Latin America and Caribbean Regionala

20.6

0.0

7.8

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

28.4

State Western Hemisphere Regionala

0.0

209.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

247.2

1.8

0.0

20.5

478.7

[CARSI]b

0.0

126.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

222.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

348.5

[CBSI]b

0.0

25.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

25.2

0.0

0.0

7.5

57.7

Total

484.4

402.9

66.4

123.0

15.7

524.4

8.6

13.0

69.4

1,707.6

Source: U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justification, Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Fiscal Year 2018, May 23, 2017.

Notes: Figures may not sum to totals due to rounding. DA = Development Assistance; ESF = Economic Support Fund; GHP = Global Health Programs; P.L. 480 = Food for Peace/Food Aid; INCLE = International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement; NADR = Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs; IMET = International Military Education and Training; FMF = Foreign Military Financing; USAID = U.S. Agency for International Development; CARSI = Central America Regional Security Initiative; and CBSI = Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.

a. USAID and State Department regional programs fund region-wide initiatives as well as activities that cross borders or take place in non-presence countries.

b. CARSI and CBSI are funded through the State Western Hemisphere Regional program.

Appendix B. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean by Account and Country or Regional Program: FY2017

Table B-1. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY2017

(appropriations in millions of current U.S. dollars)

 

DA

ESF

GHP-USAID

GHP-State

P.L. 480

INCLE

NADR

IMET

FMF

Total

Argentina

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.4

0.0

0.6

Bahamas

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Belize

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

1.0

1.3

Bolivia

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Brazil

10.5

0.0

0.0

0.3

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.6

0.0

11.7

Chile

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.5

0.0

0.7

Colombia

0.0

187.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

143.0

21.0

1.4

38.5

391.3

Costa Rica

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.7

5.0

5.7

Cuba

0.0

20.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

20.0

Dominican Republic

5.8

0.0

3.1

4.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.6

0.0

13.8

Ecuador

1.8

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.8

El Salvador

70.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.8

1.9

72.7

Guatemala

110.0

0.0

13.0

0.0

15.0

0.0

0.0

0.8

1.7

140.5

Guyana

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.3

0.0

0.3

Haiti

36.5

8.5

25.2

84.9

12.0

8.0

0.0

0.3

1.2

176.6

Honduras

90.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.8

4.5

95.3

Jamaica

10.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.6

0.0

10.6

Mexico

40.9

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

90.0

1.2

1.5

5.0

138.6

Nicaragua

9.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.0

0.0

9.7

Panama

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.7

2.1

3.2

Paraguay

5.8

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

6.3

Peru

30.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

32.0

0.0

0.6

1.8

64.5

Suriname

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Trinidad and Tobago

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.3

0.0

0.3

Uruguay

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

Venezuela

7.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

7.0

Barbados and Eastern Caribbean

3.0

0.0

7.0

15.9

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.8

0.0

26.7

USAID Caribbean Developmenta

3.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

3.0

USAID Central America Regionala

17.6

0.0

8.4

12.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

38.3

USAID South America Regionala

14.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

14.0

USAID Latin America and Caribbean Regionala

18.9

0.0

7.8

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

26.7

State Western Hemisphere Regionala

0.0

143.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

260.2

2.1

0.0

20.0

425.5

[CARSI]b

0.0

104.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

225.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

329.2

[CBSI]b

0.0

25.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

25.2

0.0

0.0

7.5

57.7

Total

484.4

359.0

64.4

117.7

27.0

533.2

25.4

13.5

82.7

1,707.3

Source: U.S. Department of State, "FY2017 653(a) All Spigots Final," August 9, 2017.

Notes: Figures may not sum to totals due to rounding. DA = Development Assistance; ESF = Economic Support Fund; GHP = Global Health Programs; P.L. 480 = Food for Peace/Food Aid; INCLE = International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement; NADR = Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs; IMET = International Military Education and Training; FMF = Foreign Military Financing; USAID = U.S. Agency for International Development; CARSI = Central America Regional Security Initiative; and CBSI = Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.

a. USAID and State Department regional programs fund region-wide initiatives as well as activities that cross borders or take place in non-presence countries.

b. CARSI and CBSI are funded through the State Western Hemisphere Regional program.

Appendix C. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean by Account and Country or Regional Program: FY2018 Request

Table C-1. U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY2018 Request

(appropriations in millions of current U.S. dollars)

 

ESDFa

GHP-USAID

GHP-State

P.L. 480

INCLE

NADR

IMET

FMF

Total

Argentina

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.3

0.0

0.5

Bahamas

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.1

0.0

0.1

Belize

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Bolivia

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Brazil

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.6

0.0

0.8

Chile

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.3

0.0

0.5

Colombia

105.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

125.0

20.0

1.4

0.0

251.4

Costa Rica

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.4

0.0

0.4

Cuba

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Dominican Republic

0.0

0.0

10.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

10.5

Ecuador

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

El Salvador

45.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.8

0.0

46.3

Guatemala

76.9

3.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.8

0.0

80.7

Guyana

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Haiti

48.0

16.2

85.0

0.0

8.0

0.0

0.3

0.0

157.5

Honduras

67.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.8

0.0

67.9

Jamaica

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

0.5

Mexico

25.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

60.0

1.2

1.5

0.0

87.7

Nicaragua

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Panama

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.7

0.0

1.2

Paraguay

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.4

0.0

0.4

Peru

22.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

27.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

49.7

Suriname

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Trinidad and Tobago

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.2

0.0

0.2

Uruguay

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.4

0.0

0.4

Venezuela

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Barbados and Eastern Caribbean

0.0

0.0

15.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.5

0.0

15.5

USAID Caribbean Developmentb

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

USAID Central America Regionalb

0.0

0.0

10.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

10.0

USAID South America Regionalb

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

USAID Latin America and Caribbean Regionalb

5.0

5.8

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

10.8

State Western Hemisphere Regionalb

121.4

0.0

0.0

0.0

178.0

0.6

0.0

0.0

300.0

[CARSI]c

101.4

0.0

0.0

0.0

161.8

0.0

0.0

0.0

263.2

[CBSI]c

20.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

16.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

36.2

Total

516.1

25.0

120.0

0.0

398.0

22.9

11.6

0.0

1,093.6

Source: U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justification, Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Fiscal Year 2018, May 23, 2017.

Notes: Figures may not sum to totals due to rounding. ESDF=Economic Support and Development Fund; GHP = Global Health Programs; P.L. 480 = Food for Peace/Food Aid; INCLE = International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement; NADR = Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs; IMET = International Military Education and Training; FMF = Foreign Military Financing; USAID = U.S. Agency for International Development; CARSI = Central America Regional Security Initiative; and CBSI = Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.

a. The FY2018 request includes a new ESDF account, which would consolidate the DA and ESF accounts.

b. USAID and State Department regional programs fund region-wide initiatives as well as activities that cross borders or take place in non-presence countries.

c. CARSI and CBSI are funded through the State Western Hemisphere Regional program.

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Specialist in Latin American Affairs ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Footnotes

1.

For more information on U.S. policy in the region, see CRS In Focus IF10460, Latin America and the Caribbean: U.S. Policy Overview, by [author name scrubbed].

2.

These figures include aid obligations from all U.S. government agencies. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Foreign Aid Explorer: The Official Record of U.S. Foreign Aid, at https://explorer.usaid.gov/aid-dashboard.html. Obligation data for FY2017 are not yet available.

3.

For more information on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, see CRS In Focus IF10184, The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR): Summary of Recent Developments, by [author name scrubbed], and CRS Report RL32427, Millennium Challenge Corporation, by [author name scrubbed].

4.

U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, 2017 Social Panorama of Latin America, December 2017, p. 80.

5.

Mark Feierstein, "A New Approach for a Changing Hemisphere," USAID Frontlines (March/April 2012), pp. 28-29.

6.

Unless otherwise noted, data and information in this section are drawn from U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justification, Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Fiscal Year 2018, May 23, 2017, at https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/271013.pdf.

7.

CRS Report R44890, Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2018 Budget and Appropriations, by [author name scrubbed], [author name scrubbed], and [author name scrubbed].

8.

For more information on the various foreign assistance accounts and the programs they fund, see CRS Report R40213, Foreign Aid: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policy, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

9.

Though no Foreign Military Financing (FMF) allocations to the region were specified in the request, the request called for a global FMF fund that could be allocated flexibly during the fiscal year, potentially to countries in Latin America.

10.

Central America would receive an additional $10 million in health assistance through USAID's Central America regional program; those funds are not considered part of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America. For more information on the strategy, see CRS Report R44812, U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America: Policy Issues for Congress, by [author name scrubbed].

11.

For more information on U.S. policy toward Colombia, see CRS Report R43813, Colombia: Background and U.S. Relations, by [author name scrubbed].

12.

For more information on U.S. policy toward Haiti, see CRS Report R45034, Haiti's Political and Economic Conditions: In Brief, by [author name scrubbed].

13.

For more information on U.S. policy toward Mexico, see CRS Report R42917, Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations, by [author name scrubbed].

14.

For more information on the CBSI, see CRS In Focus IF10789, Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, by [author name scrubbed].

15.

For more information on U.S. democracy-promotion efforts in Cuba and Venezuela, see CRS Report R44822, Cuba: U.S. Policy in the 115th Congress, by [author name scrubbed], and CRS Report R44841, Venezuela: Background and U.S. Policy, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

16.

H.Rept. 91-611, p. 57.

17.

Office of Management and Budget, Major Savings and Reforms, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2018, 2017, p. 97.

18.

Christopher Sabatini, "Trump Wants to Ax the Smartest U.S. Investment in Latin America," World Politics Review, June 16, 2017.

19.

For more information, see CRS Report R44890, Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2018 Budget and Appropriations, by [author name scrubbed], [author name scrubbed], and [author name scrubbed].

20.

White House, National Security Strategy of the United States, December 2017.

21.

Sarah Rose, Erin Collinson, and Jared Kalow, Working Itself Out of a Job: USAID and Smart Strategic Transitions, Center for Global Development, December 2017.

22.

USAID defines obligation as an "action that creates a definite commitment, which creates a legal liability of the government for the payment of funds for specific goods or services." USAID, Glossary of ADS Terms, April 30, 2014.

23.

For more on these agencies, see CRS In Focus IF10659, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), by [author name scrubbed]. For a proposal to consolidate the U.S. government's various development finance tools into a single institution, see Benjamin Leo and Todd Moss, Bringing US Development Finance into the 21st Century: Proposal for a Self-Sustaining Full-Service USDFC, Center for Global Development, March 2015.

24.

Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State, "Secretary's Letter," U.S. Department of State, May 23, 2017, p. 2.

25.

U.S. Department of State, Report on the Impact of Transitioning FMF Assistance from Grants to Loans, August 2017.

26.

Tommy Ross, Congressional Oversight on Security Assistance, Center for Strategic & International Studies, September 26, 2017.

27.

Felicia Schwartz, "Trump Budget Would Convert Many Overseas Military Grants to Loans," Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2017.

28.

Adam Isacson, "Trump's 2018 Foreign Aid Budget Would Deal a Devastating Blow to Latin America," Washington Office on Latin America, May 24, 2017.

29.

The FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 114-328) consolidated many of the Department of Defense's core security cooperation authorities into a new chapter of Title 10 of the U.S. Code (Chapter 16).

30.

These figures are estimates and are subject to change. U.S. Department of Defense, "Counternarcotics (CN) Support to Foreign Countries by COCOM and Country," provided to CRS in 2017.

31.

Victoria Gaytan and William Naylor, A Deep Dive into the Trump Cuts for Latin America, Global Americans, June 22, 2017.

32.

Ibid. James Bargent and Charles Orta, "Trump Budget Plan Spells Trouble for LatAm Security Cooperation," Insight Crime, May 24, 2017.

33.

Economist Intelligence Unit, Good Neighbor Gone Bad: Policy Risks for Mexico and Latin America under Trump, February 2017.

34.

James M. Roberts, "What Would U.S. Budget Cuts Mean for Latin America?" Latin America Advisor, June 7, 2017.

35.

Andres Oppenheimer, "China Is Gaining Influence in Latin America at the Expense of the U.S., and Trump Is Helping It," Miami Herald, December 21, 2017.

36.

Fabian Cambero and Dave Sherwood, "China Invites Latin America to Take Part in One Belt, One Road," Reuters, January 22, 2018.

37.

Juan Pablo Cardenal, "China in Latin America: Understanding the Inventory of Influence," in Sharp Power: Rising Authoritarian Influence (National Endowment for Democracy, December 2017).

38.

Latin American Newsletters, America First: An Opportunity for China?, 2017.

39.

By comparison, the region's approval-disapproval ratings were 31%-29% for Germany, 28%-35% for China, and 24%-38% for Russia. Gallup, Rating World Leaders 2018: The U.S. vs. Germany, China and Russia, p. 5.