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The Future of Colombia-US Relations If Petro Wins the Presidency | Interview with Juan Diego Gómez

Petro, El American

Available: Español

[Leer en español]

This week in Washington D.C. marked 200 years of bilateral relations between the U.S. and Colombia. At an event held at the Kennedy Center, Colombian President Iván Duque and other leaders of the South American country celebrated the historic and close relationship that for years has benefited the two countries.

In the midst of the celebrations of Colombia-US relations, we spoke with the President of the Colombian Senate, Senator Juan Diego Gómez, about the importance of this relationship, the changes that are occurring in the region, and what could happen if the candidate of the extreme left, Gustavo Petro, wins the presidency in Colombia.

Regarding the run-off election to be held in Colombia on June 19, the president of the Colombian Upper House said that “undoubtedly Rodolfo Hernandez would be a much smoother option for bilateral relations with the United States.” He explained that Hernández does not represent traditional parties but neither does he represent an anti-system version; he does not have sympathy for the Latin American left and he does not have the questions that weigh on the candidate Gustavo Petro who, according to him, “has dark support from narco-terrorist groups in Colombia that have expressed sympathy for his candidacy.”

Although the President of the Colombian Senate highlights that the two countries have historically had a strong relationship that will be very difficult to break, he warns that the situation may change and harm both parties.

“If a wave of changes comes, such as those announced by some supporters, and even the candidate Gustavo Petro himself and his vice-presidential formula, Francia Márquez, I believe that relations not only with the United States but with many other countries will have to be rethought,” he said.

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Regarding the close relations that Gustavo Petro has had with the Venezuelan regime, Gómez assures the following: “Today, I do not believe that it is a limitation in the relations with the United States. We have heard President Biden’s statements on the lifting of restrictions to American companies that want to enter Venezuela to explore and exploit oil and gas and other areas of the economy. I believe that today the axis of U.S. relations is not based on the fear of what might happen with Venezuela, but rather on the future.”

Finally, we asked him about his opinion regarding the change in international policy that is taking place with a Biden administration getting closer to the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes.

He assured that “it is a somewhat unprecedented issue, coming from an administration like that of the previous president, Donald Trump, who did not want this type of government. However, I believe that today opens the possibility of having a range of probabilities, a range of commercial issues (…) This, in a context in which Colombia is one of the last bastions of the center-right in the continent, takes on a fundamental relevance for the second presidential round. There, businessmen, citizens, academics and all sectors of politics are going to be very attentive to what happens in our country.”

Relations between the United States and Colombia not only have a long history but have been fundamental for the South American country. The well-known “Plan Colombia” allowed, thanks to U.S. military and monetary aid, Colombia to confront the drug cartels – including leftist guerrilla groups – that were taking over the country and had infiltrated politics at the highest levels.

Thanks to U.S. assistance and the democratic security strategy, it is estimated that from 2001 to 2012 cocaine production in Colombia was reduced by more than 70%.

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