By Sergio Gómez Maseri, EL TIEMPO, December 23, 2022
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
On this Friday, a group of 35 members of the United States Congress sent a letter to the Secretary of State for the United States, Antony Blinken. In the letter they ask that he support the new proposals by the administration of President Gustavo Petro. In particular, they ask that he support his agenda on climate change, the struggle against corruption, on racial and social inclusion, and human rights.
At the same time, the legislators offered support for the strategy of “Total Peace” proposed by his administration, as well as of a more holistic approach in the war on drugs, with consideration for the growers and not concentrated on the quantity of hectares eradicated when it’s time to evaluate successes and failures.
The letter, led by Representatives James McGovern and Mark Pocan, also bears the signatures of other members of the more progressive wing of their party, such as Alexandria Ocásio Cortez.
In the letter, the members of Congress ask Blinken to be flexible in the matter of extradition, so as to support the peace negotiations, and to consider the participation of the U. S. in the dialogs with the ELN, even to appointing a Special Envoy as an accompaniment.
The members, at the same time, ask Blinken to maintain his support for the implementation of the Peace Agreements of 2016, and to increase the aid projected for 2024, which will be discussed at the beginning of the coming year.
In the area of immigration, the members of Congress requested an increase in aid so that the country can continue to take care of the needs of the Venezuelan immigrants. And they ask Petro, on the other hand, to honor his commitment not to extradite members of the Venezuelan opposition who are now living in Colombia.
Aid to Colombia
Meanwhile, this Friday afternoon, the Congress of the United States approved an allocation of $487,300,000 in aid for Colombia as part of the U.S. budget for fiscal 2023.
The amount approved for Colombia is the highest amount authorized by the U.S. in the last 11 years.
“The budget approved for Colombia, included in the appropriations for the Department of State and Foreign Operations is a demonstration of support for this country, for this administration, and for President Petro’s policies; in addition, it’s a ratification of this period of time in the bilateral relationship,” said the Ambassador of Colombia to the United States, Luis Gilberto Murillo.
At the same time this week, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was approved for fiscal year 2023. That legislation furnishes the United States Department of Defense with the ability to carry out the budget allocations and ratifies the Colombia-United States cooperation in defense matters.
The Statute renews the Defense Department’s authorization, through the Southern Command, to continue improving this country’s capabilities, including interdiction and intelligence, necessary for the effectiveness of the holistic strategy against drug trafficking that the parties agreed to.
According to a communication by the U.S. in Washington, this is something that is in line with the Colombian government’s new drug policy focus.