US stands to gain from Colombia’s ongoing rise to prosperity
The U.S.-Colombia relationship is the most important strategic partnership in the Western Hemisphere. It is a partnership that has grown in significance and strength over the past 20 years, and it is a partnership that stands to continue strengthening during the Trump administration and the 115th Congress.
Built on a solid foundation of shared values, our partnership has allowed us to promote security, peace and prosperity in both of our countries, throughout the hemisphere and around the world. No longer just a recipient of American aid, Colombia is a leading ally and strategic partner for the United States.
Colombia has stepped in to help nations in Central America, the Caribbean and around the world confront security challenges; we have exchanged our experience with NATO; and we are creating a mutually beneficial climate for business and investment. The many roles Colombia assumes on the world stage today advance the interests of both of our nations.
An alliance once narrowly focused on combatting security challenges has matured and expanded to issues critical to the future of both nations and the hemisphere, including advancing cooperation on energy, education and innovation.
These issues are being addressed between our two governments as part of the High-Level Partnership Dialogue, between private and public sector leaders as part of the new U.S.-Colombia Advisory Council, and among policymakers and thought leaders through the bipartisan Colombia Peace and Prosperity Task Force. This forward-looking work is a testament to Colombia’s transformation and to the power of our bilateral partnership.
As the oldest and strongest democracies in the Western Hemisphere, the relationship between our two countries is deeply rooted in our steadfast commitment to the shared values of democracy, freedom and equality. It is also built on a solid foundation of bipartisan support.
Successive Colombian governments have worked with both Republican and Democrat-led Congresses. We worked with Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, and we look forward to working with President Trump and Congress to continue strengthening our partnership in ways that yield benefits for Americans and Colombians.
Plan Colombia, a joint U.S.-Colombia initiative implemented over the last 16 years, is a prime example of how continued bipartisan support can lead to significant progress and transformation. Plan Colombia made the difference in bringing our nation back from the brink of failure, crippling the FARC and ushering in peace.
Colombia now faces the complex task of implementing the recently adopted Peace Agreement that ended more than 50 years of armed conflict. The United States can play a pivotal role once again and help Colombia sustain its transformation with the next phase of Plan Colombia — the Peace Colombia initiative.
Peace Colombia would ensure peace is sustainable by reinforcing security gains made together, continuing to strengthen institutions and justice, generating more economic opportunities, reintegrating former combatants into society and advancing counter-narcotics efforts. The initiative would also focus on much-needed demining efforts and combating transnational organized crime.
Peace Colombia will allow Colombia to be an even stronger partner for the United States. We are one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, and we will continue to be a beneficial trading partner for America — generating export growth and supporting jobs in both of our countries.
The knowledge we have gained in fighting for peace has given us security expertise that we are now able to share with America’s global partners, putting Colombia in the pivotal position of helping keep the United States, the region, and the world secure.
As with Plan Colombia, Peace Colombia will largely be supported by Colombian taxpayers, who will fund more than 90 percent of the initiative. The Peace Colombia effort will lead to additional progress that benefits Americans, including reductions in crime, drug trafficking and illegal mining.
Broader than that, the initiative will strengthen Colombia and our shared goals. With a track record of progress, Colombia and the United States are well positioned to achieve even more together.
Juan Carlos Pinzón is Colombia’s ambassador to the United States. Follow him at @ColAmbPinzon.
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