The Colombian Foreign Minister, Álvaro Leyva, during the High Level Dialogue he held with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Washington. POOL (Reuters)
Relations between Colombia and the United States, two close allies, entered a new era with the rise to power of Gustavo Petro.
The Colombian president is obsessed, among other things, with rethinking an anti-drug policy that he considers a failure, as he has repeated in different international forums.
However, Bogotá is determined not to give "surprises" to the Joe Biden Administration.
This was expressed this Monday by the foreign minister, Álvaro Leyva, to the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, at the inauguration in Washington of the first High Level Dialogue between the two countries since the leftist leader occupies the Casa de Nariño.
The Government of Colombia wants to lead the response to global challenges such as the climate crisis ―another of Petro's obsessions in foreign policy―, Leyva said in his statements.
“There is a new head of state who has a new speech but it is not surprising.
There will never be a surprise on our part in the relationship with our usual ally, which is the United States of America”, reaffirmed the head of Colombian diplomacy, at the head of a delegation of more than 50 officials.
“We were the country of coca.
Today we are one of the great sponges to solve the possible disappearance of the human race on the planet.
We are saving the planet, ”he added in reference to the Amazon, echoing the environmental discourse that Petro himself has exhibited in his large interventions abroad,
The Colombian president, part of the wave of left-wing governments in the region, has emphasized a new insertion in the subcontinent, without sacrificing the privileged relationship with the White House that one of his most devoted allies has historically maintained.
The reversal that he proposes in anti-drug policy, in particular, has stirred debates around the advisability of not giving up on eradication efforts in the midst of a strategy adjustment.
Also loud backups.
The fight against drug trafficking needs profound changes such as those requested by Petro, since the policy of prohibition failed, have recognized, among others, the world leaders grouped in the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
The Colombian Government intends, broadly speaking, to give oxygen to the weakest links in the chain,
such as peasants and coca leaf growers, and at the same time suffocate traffickers, money launderers and mafias.
Colombia is the world's leading producer of coca leaf, the raw material for cocaine, and the United States the main consumer.
Blinken, for his part, pointed out that Colombia and the United States are "vibrant democracies" that are better off when they "face together" global challenges, while remembering that the fight against drug cartels is a key part of the cooperation between the two. countries.
Although he pointed to a “comprehensive approach” that reduces consumption in the United States, he also stressed the need to increase seizures by land and sea, as well as offer alternatives to coca growers in Colombia.
President Biden has a long history with Colombia, a country he likes to refer to as "the cornerstone" of Washington's foreign policy in Latin America.
When he was a congressman from Delaware, he was one of the great promoters of the anti-narcotics and counterinsurgency alliance articulated around Plan Colombia at the beginning of this century.
Then, as vice president of Barack Obama, he supported the peace agreement with the extinct FARC guerrilla during the Government of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), which Petro intends to implement with renewed vigor.
The United States has even announced that it will support the implementation of the ethnic chapter of the agreements, one of the most lagging behind.
However, the total peace policy that pursues new negotiations with various armed groups, including drug gangs,
In addition to being a historical ally, Colombia is also key to the White House due to its role in the strategy against Venezuela, in general, and the Venezuelan diaspora, in particular.
The reestablishment of relations with Caracas, completely broken since 2019, has been one of the axes of the new Colombian foreign policy.
The Secretary of State also referred to the regional migration crisis, describing Bogotá as a "crucial partner" and extolling the temporary status it has granted to Venezuelan migrants -with 2.9 million Venezuelans in its territory it is by far the main host country.
“Colombia has shown that when immigration is managed safely, it can enhance the stability of the region and provide an opportunity rather than a burden,” he noted.
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