US Colombia relationship: The United States has long considered Latin America to be a strategic region, and it is no secret that Washington has been working hard to maintain its influence in the region. The US has traditionally been a key player in the region, but in recent years, its influence has waned, particularly with the fallout with Venezuela and Brazil.
In light of this, the US has turned its attention to Colombia, a country that has long been seen as an important ally in the region. The US has been working hard to woo Colombia in an attempt to maintain its presence in Latin America and to counter the growing influence of China and Russia in the region.
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The US Colombia relationship has always been strong, and the two countries have worked closely together on a range of issues, including counter-narcotics, security, and economic development. However, in recent years, the relationship has taken on a new importance, as the US seeks to strengthen its relationship with Colombia in the face of growing competition from other powers.
After leftist Gustavo Petro won Colombia’s presidential runoff on June 19, 2022, top U.S. officials have hastened to embrace him. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, tweeted his congratulations on election night and called Petro the next day. Within 48 hours of Petro’s victory, President Joe Biden also placed a call, emphasizing U.S. support for Colombia and the desire “to continue strengthening bilateral cooperation.”
One of the key ways that the US has been wooing Colombia is through increased military and security cooperation. The US has been providing Colombia with military assistance for many years, but in recent years, this cooperation has intensified. In 2016, the US signed a new security agreement with Colombia that expanded military cooperation and provided additional resources to help Colombia fight drug trafficking and other security threats.
The US has also been working to strengthen its economic ties and relationship with Colombia. The two countries have had a free trade agreement in place since 2012, and the US has been working to increase investment in Colombia and to expand trade between the two countries.
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Another way that the US has been wooing Colombia is through diplomatic efforts. The US has been working to strengthen its ties with Colombia at the diplomatic level, including through high-level visits and diplomatic engagement.
The U.S State Department announced recently at the U.S Embassy in Bogotá that visa processing times for first-time applicants, as well as renewals, have been significantly reduced for Colombians wanting to visit the U.S.
The US has also been working to strengthen cultural ties and relationship with Colombia. The US has long been a popular destination for Colombian students and professionals, and the US government has been working to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries.
This includes programs like the Fulbright scholarship program, which provides opportunities for Colombian students to study in the US, and the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative, which brings together young leaders from across the Americas to promote economic growth and entrepreneurship.
However, this has not been a smooth sailing ride for the US. There has been a rise of divergence in US Colombia relationship ever since Petro took power.
First, cocaine. Petro has signalled that his calculated new approach to the drug trade will begin with decriminalizing small-scale coca leaf growing. This has led to fear in Washington that softer policies in Colombia will translate to an increase in cocaine coming into the United States.
Next, Venezuela. On Dec. 13, 2022, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that his government would “be completely reopening the border, for all of western Venezuela with Colombia, for the passage of vehicles, motorcycles, and trucks” at the start of the new year. This development is a blow to the US policy of supporting Juan Guaido as the rightful leader of Venezuela.
Anyone who has been comforted by consistency may find this transformation of the US Colombia relationship distressing, but American policymakers are prudent to adapt to Petro’s new course.In August 2022, the Biden administration appeared to be digging in its heels, releasing a statement that the continuation of US drug interdiction in Colombia was necessary. By October 2022, Blinken’s office posted a fact sheet that was vague regarding specific counter-narcotics action but emphasized harmony in the US Colombia relationship.
The American sphere of influence in South America has been severely weakened by the gradual reversal of policy by key nations like Venezuela and Brazil. Although the United States has made an effort to mend relations with its allies, such as Ecuador, the material situation suggests that time and money spent by the United States in Ecuador may not have yielded major results. After all, the nation borders Peru, a country with a highly volatile situation where the pro-Western leader may soon be deposed.
Therefore, this is precisely why through increased military and security cooperation, economic ties, diplomatic efforts, and cultural exchanges, the US is working to strengthen its relationship with Colombia and to maintain its influence in Latin America. Only time will tell to what extent is the US willing to accommodate the growing hedonistic demands of Colombia.
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