Editorial, EL ESPECTADOR, April 22, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
President Gustavo Petro’s visit to the White House was a success for Colombian diplomacy, led by the consistent labor of the Ambassador in Washington, Luis Gilberto Murillo. It was also an incentive for the national administration to abandon its ambivalence about the administration of Joe Biden and to understand how to get closer to our principal ally, which could bring benefits to the ambitions of both countries. Even the Foreign Minister, Álvaro Leyva, who had offered discord with hostile and unfortunate declarations in the days before the meeting of the Presidents, appears to have understood that the closeness of the two governments is productive, and beyond ideologies.
The President’s Palace must feel valued. Just before announcing his road to re-election, which is far from assured, and with a Democratic Party that has been constantly bruised in the polls and in Latino enclaves, as in Florida, where the “castrochavista” talk cuts deep into the second and third generation of immigrants, President Petro was received with genuine appreciation and respect, except for some raucous commentaries from the extreme right wing of the Republican campaign. The President of the United States, Joe Biden himself, showed a genuine interest in bringing the two countries together, with clear support for Gustavo Petro’s policies.
The result was not guaranteed. After he became President, Gustavo Petro and Foreign Minister Leyva showed themselves much more comfortable getting close to dictatorships like the Cuban, the Venezuelan, and the Chinese than with the historic alliance with the United States. Days before the bilateral meeting, Foreign Minister Leyva said that, “of course we have to invest, but in order to generate capacity for growth. Because if not, then this is just about alms,” referring to the 13 billion dollars that the United States government has furnished to our country. Then, speaking to the OEA, President Petro continued his mistaken defense of Pedro Castillo’s dictatorial attempt in Peru, and asked for the modification of the Inter-American Charter. However, doubtless thanks to the judicious work that Ambassador Murillo and his team have been doing all these months, the Biden administration recognizes in the Petro administration a prudent ally and a strong defender of democracy.
“I want to thank you for your commitment and your strong and frank defense of peace and of human rights in the continent,” President Biden told the President of Colombia. “We talked about the climate crisis and the green economy for the Americas. The U.S. has committed $500,000,000 for the Amazon jungle,” added President Petro, who also reported that his proposal for exchanging external debt for climate action received a hearing.
We told you this at the time: the principal ambitions of the Petro administration go through Washington. From the desire to mediate a transition in Venezuela to converting Colombia into a global leader in energy transition and the struggle against the climate emergency, while moving toward a change in the paradigm in the war on drugs, much of what President Petro will be able to achieve needs the support of the Biden administration. If this meeting served to thaw some anachronistic positions, and to recall the importance and the possibility of a fluid relationship, that’s good news for this country.