By Daniel Coronell, Wradio, February 25, 2022
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
Here are all of the points in the bill introduced by Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate.
Today we’re going to talk about a subject that ought to be big news and the subject of discussion both in Colombia and the United States for all of this year.
It’s about a bill entitled “United States-Colombia Strategic Alliance Law”. The bill’s author is Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey, one of the most influential legislators in the United States, and the current Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Menendez wants to elevate the fundamental aspects of the relationship between the United States and Colombia into federal law.
Introduction of the bill was announced several days ago in an open hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It has more than 600 sections in its table of contents and index. Coronell Reports has seen it in advance and exclusively.
The entire document can be seen on Wradio’s web site.
Turn your attention to the bill’s objectives, which, in a few days will be discussed in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. The heading points out that the law would approve “the support of the progress of the peace, the democratic governability and security of Colombia, and other purposes.”
The law would designate Colombia as the principal ally of the United States, except for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
To get an idea of what passage of this law might mean for Colombia, we should consider that NATO is the most important military alliance of the United States, crucial, for example in the war situation being experienced right now in Ukraine.
The bill also states that Colombia is vital for the fortification of the Western Hemisphere.
The first chapter of the bill is entitled “Support for Inclusive Economic Growth”, and states that the United States will:
- Create a Colombia-United States Business Support Fund
- Promote a labor agreement between Colombia and the United States
- Support efforts to fight corruption
- Provide resources to increase the level of English learning, as a way to improve Colombia’s ability to compete
- Assist in improving education in what is known as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
- Foster businesses run by women
- Foment education for women and girls in science and technology
With regard to the advancement of the peace and democratic governability, Senator Bob Menendez’s bill proposes:
- Support for peace and justice. In the hearing a few days ago, Senator Bob Menendez said that the Peace Agreement signed by the Colombian government with the FARC in 2016, is not perfect, but is the best opportunity for the country to find peace after decades of armed conflict.
- The bill also proposes advancement in integrated rural development.
- Empower indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, traditionally disfavored in Colombia.
- And finally, but very important, protect defenders of human rights.
In the area of strengthening cooperation on matters of security, the bill provides:
- Creation of a committee for consulting on security between the United States and Colombia.
- Cooperation on cyberdefense and fighting cybercrime.
- It also states that classified information on the activities of terrorist and criminal groups should be shared.
- Likewise, increase cooperation in the drug war, and create a strategy for rural security.
- The government of the United States will share classified information about what the bill calls “criminally-intentioned activities by government actors in the Andean region”. It’s not very difficult to imagine who those “Andean government actors” are who are worrying the United States.
With regard to biodiversity, Senator Menendez’s bill calls for the protection of the tropical forests, the creation of public-private alliances for responsible gold-mining, and support for the natural reserve areas in Colombia.
There is a chapter on humanitarian needs. It contains five points.
- Creation of an assistance and development strategy for the victims of the violence.
- Designation of a high-level coordinator for humanitarian needs.
- Establishment of programs to help with voluntary return and reintegration.
- Evaluation of health needs in rural areas.
- Formulation of a strategy for resettlement of refugees in the western hemisphere. Senator Bob Menendez, who visited Cucutá last July, believes that the massive influx of Venezuelan citizens, who had to leave their country, should not be the exclusive responsibility of Colombia, but rather that the United States and the whole world should help, because it is a global humanitarian crisis.
The final chapter of the “Colombia-Unites States Strategic Alliance” bill is entitled “Global Issues”, and includes two areas.
- Authorities that are related to the war on drugs.
- Guaranteeing the integrity of cooperation in communications.
In the capital of the United States, as well as in the capital of Colombia, we know how bills look when they are introduced, but we don’t know how they’re going to look when they’re passed. There are a lot of good things in Senator Bob Menendez’s bill; and there are others where we will have to ask questions and ask for specifics.
What is certain is that we will be talking about this for quite a while. It’s no exaggeration to say that, after the presidential election, this bill envisions some things that are very important for the future of Colombia.