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Government to pull plug on Latin America aid

Development Assistance Minister Gunilla Carlsson

Swedish Radio News reports that Development Assistance Minister Gunilla Carlsson wants to cut aid to countries in Latin America.

Under the plan, drafted by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Authority, SEK 500 million in assistance would end to Bolivia, Colombia and Guatemala, the last three Latin American countries to receive Swedish aid.

The reason, Swedish Radio News says, is because the center-right government wants to limit Swedish aid to the poorest countries, and Bolivia, Colombia and Guatemala are now classified as “middle income countries”.

But the proposal has prompted strong opposition.

The Liberals, also a member of the government coalition, have criticized the plan by the conservative Moderate minister. The party’s spokesperson on development aid, Christer Winbäck, tells Swedish Radio News “I am personally extremely skeptical about this. Through our presence in Bolivia, Colombia and Guatemala we are trying to support the development of democracy and human rights. There are problems, but we’ve seen that we can make a positive difference in those countries.”

The opposition Social Democrats also criticise the plan. “This is something that takes a very long time,” says the party’s spokesperson on development aid Kenneth Forslund. “We need to be more patient, persistent, and targeted. And I don’t think the mission is over just because a country has become a middle income country.”

In response, Gunilla Carlsson tells Swedish Radio News the question about Latin America will be discussed within the government, but the goal is to give assistance to fewer countries. “There is very much poverty and oppression in the world,” she says, “and Sweden can’t do everything everywhere.”

Gunilla Carlsson has come in for criticism in the past for directing development assistance to fund a program for private investment, refugee centers in Sweden, and embassies in Western countries with no development projects.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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