US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the need to “deepen our cooperation” with Colombia at the end of a two-day visit to the South American country.
Blinken’s trip to Colombia and Ecuador was the first official visit of President Joe Biden’s top foreign affairs official to Latin America since taking office in February last year.
The visit sought to mend diplomatic relations with the government of far-right President Ivan Duque that have been strained since Colombian meddling in the US elections in 2019.
Duque’s increasingly violent rule and ties to drug traffickers complicated reestablishing ties between the two governments that have long been regional allies.
Blinken sought to reassert American influence in Bogota by stressing the US Government’s support for social development in Colombia.
We see a massive opportunity for deeper collaboration and broad-based growth, from cloud computing to health technology to agriculture. And the Build Back Better World partnership will offer a chance to seize on these and other areas of complementary strength in the months and years ahead.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
The state secretary additionally stressed US foreign policy priorities that are low on Duque’s priority list like the implementation of a 2016 peace deal with now-defunct guerrilla group FARC and investigations into human rights violations.
Blinken’s main talking points
- Joint approach to Covid-19 pandemic and the development of Colombia’s public health capacity
- Joint approach to mass migration from Haiti and Venezuela
- US support for Colombian environmental initiatives
- US support for counternarcotics and tackling the “root causes” of Colombia’s cocaine exports, “inequity, corruption, impunity”
- US support for the implementation of a 2016 peace deal with former guerrillas
- US priority to investigate human rights violations in Colombia
- Improving economic ties between the two countries
Apart from meeting with Duque and Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramirez, Blinken also met youth representatives “who will safeguard our almost 200-year-old bilateral relationship into the future.”