Colombia’s Defense Minister is expecting “big changes” economically and “drastic change in the rules of the game” with the incoming Trump administration in the United States, but not right away, he told Blu Radio in an interview on Tuesday.
Luis Carlos Villegas, who has served as President Juan Manuel Santos’ Defense Minister since June 2015, acknowledged that the US is a set of institutions that permits a “limited margin of maneuver” which allows for change, but “it’s not automatic nor immediate.”
He explained that Colombia must first follow the relationship between the Republican-controlled Congress and Trump.
“Every President’s dream in the United States is to have a majority in both houses of Congress. This is a Republican who has a majority in both houses but whose relationship between the Presidency and the houses is still not clear,” he said.
Secondly, Villegas fears that the “big changes” he foresees will be concentrated “more in the economy than in geopolitics.”
Trump’s campaign promises to promote more investment within the United States could “drain reserves in Latin America and in the developing world in general,” he explained.
Thirdly, the defense minister said that the incoming administration’s position on Colombia can only be assessed right now based on Secretary of Homeland Security appointee, General John Kelly’s statement at his confirmation hearing, that “Colombia is the United States’ best friend in the region.”
Kelly is the highest ranking official so far in the Trump government to weigh in on Colombia.
Villegas additionally pointed to Trump’s criticisms of NATO which “will have to be monitored,” in addition to the US relationship with the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
“There will be changes, but not at the speed many fear,” he continued.
As it stands, Colombia is promised a $450 million US aid package that will assist in the implementation of the peace accord between the government and the FARC rebels.
Last December, two republican senators threatened to block the proposed funding if Barack Obama agreed to pardon senior ideologue of the Marxist FARC group Simon Trinidad, who is currently serving a 60 year prison sentence in a maximum sentence prison in the US for his involvement in the kidnapping of three US contractors.
While reports suggest that a pardon is not likely, the President-elect Donald Trump has previously hinted at significantly cutting back US foreign aid spending leaving the future of Colombia-US relations uncertain.
Donald Trump will be sworn in as President this Friday, January 20.