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Colombia’s outgoing ambassador to the United States, Francisco Santos, said on Monday that his successor to the White House, former minister Juan Carlos Pinzón, should not neglect the issue of Venezuela, which he considered “continues to be an existential challenge” for his country.
“The great existential threat to democracy in Colombia is Venezuela, the Venezuela of today”, declared Santos in a meeting with journalists.
The diplomat, who will leave the post next July 31 and will be replaced by former Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón -who already held this position between 2015 and 2017 during the government of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018)-, noted that the situation in his neighbor is one of the issues that must continue to be worked on “permanently.”
And he warned that “if the issue of Venezuela is not resolved, democracy in Colombia remains and will be in danger.”
Santos, who took office in September 2018, ratified that his country “today continues to be the most important strategic ally that the United States has in the region” and one of the most important in the world.
“It is precisely because it is that strategic ally that they have their eye on Colombia to destabilize it,” he added.
The diplomat pointed out that “part” of the “situations of public order” that have occurred in his country, in reference to the protests that shook several Colombian cities for weeks, “are linked to that destabilization that not only comes from within but also from outside”.
In this context, he declared himself “tremendously worried” about the possibility that next May’s presidential elections in Colombia could be the target of cyber-attacks that “end up destroying or interfering” in the process.
“And we have no way to defend ourselves”, admitted Santos, for whom his country “is in the prehistory in terms of protection against cyber-attacks.”
He also warned that what is currently at risk in Latin America “is democracy, freedoms” and complained about the populist left “that comes to power through democracy and then ends it”.
“It happened in Venezuela, it happened in Nicaragua, it happened in Bolivia. Let’s see what happens in Argentina, let’s see what happens in Peru”, said Santos.
Regarding his country, he admitted that investors are looking at a possible “political instability due to the outcome of the 2022 elections” and warned that “they are panicking” about the senator and leader of the radical left-wing party “Colombia Humana”, Gustavo Petro, who last April was leading the polls of voting intentions for the presidential elections in his country.