Of course, their loyalty doesn't come cheap. Huffington Post's "Off the Bus" series talks to Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo Perdomo about how he views the upcoming U.S. election and what his nation wants from the U.S. to continue its support:
Q.In 2006, U.S. aid to Colombia was $641 million for military/police, $138 million for economic and social programs, and $82 million for military/non-police. How would you like to see these figures change in 2009?
Perdormo: I do not share the priorities passed by Congress for 2008 and 2009. The fight is between the U.S. administration, which wants to reinforce military programs to eradicate cocaine harvests and eliminate money-laundering, and the Democratic majority within Congress, which wants to place more emphasis on social programs. Both fronts are necessary, but I don't think we should reduce the military part, because drug traffickers do not respect any law and only care about their own fortunes.
Q: You have said Colombians will support the winner of the U.S. presidential election because, regardless of who wins, you must work together if Colombia is going to continue to develop a democracy. Who do you think is going to win?
Perdormo: I think Senator McCain will probably win because what North Americans value most is security, stability and experience, and that personifies McCain.
The main issue for the pro-neocon government of Colombia is ramming their free trade agreement with the U.S. down Congress's throat before risking an Obama election that would likely take the entire deal back to square one. From the Colombia Journal:
While the eyes of the world focus on the internal crisis in Bolivia and the unfolding tensions in the Andean region, the pro-Bush government of Colombia is engaged in one of its most intensive lobbying efforts in recent memory, a full court press that will culminate with the visit next week of President Alvaro Uribe to Washington. It is amazing how in one country of the hemisphere, an indigenous president, Evo Morales, is openly confronting the United States, accusing it of meddling in its internal affairs by fomenting unrest in the state of Santa Cruz, while in another the president is stopping at nothing to get even closer to the Bush-McCain regime.
With a large oil discovery recently announced, a region where anti-American sentiments run deep, and with loyalty being the only real quality Republicans look for, a McCain campaign would give Colombia's government exactly what they're after: A free trade agreement that further punishes Colombian workers and unions, and unlimited military firepower and money to continue its eternal "War on Drugs."
And McCain will make sure to put Country First when he gets into office. Only the Country in question will be Colombia.
Read more of Diane Tucker's series on Off the Bus this week by clicking here. She'll be presenting stories all week that cover the presidential election from an international perspective. You may want to take a look at Off the Bus later this week. Just sayin'.