President Joe Biden signed a memorandum on Monday in which officially declares Colombia as a Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States (MNNA, for its acronym in English), a category reserved for few countries in the world that confers some advantages in the defense sector and others.
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“By the authority vested in me as President by the U.S. Constitution and laws, including section 17 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, I hereby declare Colombia a Senior Non-NATO Ally of the U.S. … for purposes of this Act and the Arms Export Control Act,” Biden says in the memo.
The designation of Colombia as MNNA occurred in three stages. First of all, Biden declared his intention to declare the country for this category during the visit of President Iván Duque to Washington on March 10.
Then Biden, through a letter, notified Congress of his intentions, that he had a period of 30 days to comment, a step that is considered protocol.
And after that period ended, the formal declaration that was presented this Monday that materializes with its publication in the Federal Register.
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In any case, it is a relevant designation that has only been extended to 17 other countries in the world. different from the members of NATO and that arrives in a very particular context given the global tension that the Russian invasion of Ukraine unleashed.
The MNNA, it should be clarified, does not contemplate a mutual defense clause as it happens with the members of the Atlantic Alliance. In other words, it does not commit the US to defend Colombia in the event of external aggression.
What it does grant is a series of military and financial advantages that other countries do not have.
Among them, the inclusion in research and development programs with the Department of Defense as well as licenses to use credits from the US financial system for the purchase or rental of defense equipment.
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Likewise, participation in anti-terrorism programs, priority in the delivery of US military surpluses that the country acquires, loans of equipment and materials for research projects, access to space air technology and reciprocal training.
It also gives the power so that the country can store US military elements that are part of its war reserve.
In any case, it is a relevant designation that has only been extended to 17 other countries in the world.
The MNNA was created in 1987 when Congress determined that Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand could enter into cooperation agreements with the Department of Defense, despite not being members of NATO, and granted it the power to the Executive to appoint new members.
Since then, the other countries have entered the list by presidential determination. Currently, there are only two countries in Latin America -Brazil and Argentina- that have been designated as such.
The rest of the list is completed by Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, New Zealand, Bahrain, Philippines, Thailand, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia and Qatar, which was included earlier this year by the President Biden.
Although Taiwan is not part of the list, it has had these same benefits since 2003.
SERGIO GOMEZ MASERI
Correspondent of THE TIME
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