A series of recent allegations linking Colombian paramilitaries to government officials there, the pending decision by the U.S. Congress on the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, and continued U.S. foreign assistance for Colombia have drawn significant attention to the South American country and its ties to the United States. These were the predominant themes discussed by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in an event organized by The Americas Project at the Center for American Progress entitled Colombia and the United States at a Crossroads: A Conversation with President Alvaro Uribe.
The event was held during President Uribe’s early May trip to Washington, D.C. to promote the pending free trade agreement before the U.S. Congress and allay concerns regarding the para-politics scandal. Uribe’s visit marked the first visit by a head of state to the Center and drew a wide range of diplomats, scholars, journalists, and human rights activists, among others.
During the dialogue with Uribe, the president focused on the positive effects of Plan Colombia (the six-year-old U.S. foreign assistance program for Colombia), the demobilization of the paramilitaries, and the changes in the Law of Justice and Peace that governs the demobilization process. Uribe also highlighted the remaining challenges facing Colombia and vehemently rejected having ties with the paramilitaries or being soft on them. Among the issues highlighted by President Uribe during the event were:
- The achievements of Plan Colombia
- The improvements in security brought about by his “Democratic Security Strategy”
- The Colombian government’s commitment to justice and changes made to the Law of Justice and Peace
- The importance of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Act.
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