Blinken heads to Colombia to discuss key issues with Petro

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State Department

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken departed Washington early Monday for a high-level meeting with Colombian President Gustavo Petro. “Heading to Colombia to build on our vital, strong partnership. The vibrant ties between our people touch on virtually every aspect of our lives—our economies, security, respect for human and labor rights, and efforts to build a more democratic and equitable hemisphere,” wrote the diplomat on his Twitter account.

In a statement released by the White House, US Secretary of State’s trip advocates “for strong democracies throughout the region,” as well as “supporting sustainable peace and reconciliation, addressing irregular migration as a regional priority, countering narcotics trafficking, promoting and protecting human rights, and tackling the climate crisis.”

Blinken will announce U.S. support for the 2016 Peace Accord’s Ethnic Chapter with Vice President Francia Márquez and visit a migrant integration center in support of Colombia’s Temporary Protected Status policy for Venezuelan migrants, “which remains a model for the region.”

The statement highlights that the “United States and Colombia enjoy strong economic and cultural ties, and this year we celebrated the bicentennial of our diplomatic relations.” For the US government of President Joe Biden “human rights remain a top priority” and “foreign assistance supports the Colombian government and civil society to promote a culture of human rights, prevent and investigate human rights abuses, and protect populations in vulnerable situations.”

“The full social and economic inclusion of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities remains critical to lasting and inclusive peace,” read the official press statement. “For years, the U.S. government has advanced ethnic inclusion by strengthening civil society, promoting labor rights and inclusive economic and environmental projects, and combatting racism and discrimination.”

The United States counts as the largest international donor to the 2016 Peace Accord with over US$1 billion in foreign assistance dedicated to its implementation. USAID has invested more than US$230 million to implement the Peace Accord in conflict-affected regions, including more than 500 direct activities to support Territorial Development Plans.

On October 20, 2021, Secretary Blinken joined representatives from 17 countries throughout the region to discuss the challenges of irregular migration, a shared responsibility for securing borders, and strengthening asylum and protection systems.

“We recognize Colombia’s ongoing commitment to abide by its international commitments, including international drug control treaties and norms established by UN conventions,” emphasizes the State Department. “We support the aspiration of President Petro and the Colombian people to achieve peace in Colombia through rural security, land reform, equitable development, and environmental restoration and preservation.”

The United States’ top diplomat will also visit Peru and Chile during this four-day trip.