COLOMBIA—U.S. BILATERAL RELATIONS

Colombia and the United States have embarked on a cooperative effort to defeat terrorism and narco-trafficking in Colombia. This effort will lead to a peaceful and prosperous Colombia and enhanced stability and security across the Andean region.

The illegal, violent actors in Colombia’s conflict have close ties with international networks that supply drugs, arms, money laundering and precursor chemicals for drug production. The United States is helping Colombia cut off the resources these terrorist groups use to wage their war against the Colombian people.

President Uribe has met with President Bush and leaders of the U.S. Administration, and Democratic and Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress, to discuss his security, economic and social policy and program priorities. There is general agreement between Washington and Bogotá on the direction that President Uribe is pursuing and strong support for his Government. In November 2003, the U.S. Congress approved additional funding to support Colombia’s fight against terror for 2004, and both countries announced their intention to start formal negotiations on a bilateral free-trade agreement.

  • Plan Colombia: Now in its fourth year of implementation, Plan Colombia’s integrated program of military equipment and training and social and economic assistance remains at the core of the U.S.-Colombia bilateral relationship. President Uribe is implementing all programs of Plan Colombia in an efficient and transparent manner. Much of what President Uribe has implemented in terms of strengthening defense and security and sound management of economic policy is consistent with U.S. Congressional intent for Plan Colombia. Colombia and the U.S. are currently exploring new initiatives to ensure that future assistance and cooperation builds on the success of Plan Colombia to date.
  • Transnational crime: Defeating terrorism in Colombia means attacking transnational crime at all levels. This means smuggling of precursor chemicals used for drug production, arms and explosives trafficking and money laundering. There is already extensive cooperation between Colombia law enforcement, police and judicial officials and key U.S. agencies such as the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the U.S. Treasury. The Uribe Government is committed to enhancing these initiatives wherever and whenever necessary. To date, the Uribe administration has extradited 90 individuals to the United States.
  • Trade: Expanding bilateral trade is an important priority for the Uribe government. Colombia’s export sector is a critical factor in restoring the country’s economic health. The Uribe government strongly supports trade liberalization throughout the hemisphere, both through bilateral agreements and creation of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. Colombia and the United States will begin negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement in 2004.
  • Foreign investment: The United States is an important source of foreign investment in Colombia. More than 200 U.S. companies operate successfully in the Colombian market. U.S. companies have been important partners in Colombia’s development, contributing to Colombia’s energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and services sectors. The Uribe Administration is working to improve security conditions in regions of the country where oil infrastructure has been targeted by guerrillas. Oil generates substantial fiscal revenues for the Central Government and Colombia has become an important and reliable source of foreign oil to the U.S. market.
  • Social and economic assistance: The Colombian Government has been working with U.S. AID and other U.S. Government agencies, as well as with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and other multilateral institutions, to develop new programs, loans and grants to target poverty and underdevelopment in areas of Colombia where narco-trafficking and terrorist violence exists. Since FY2001 Colombia and the United States have cooperated to support the cultivation of 38,563 hectares of legal crops and the establishment of 630 social and productive infrastructure projects. These efforts have benefited more than 31,000 families.
  • Environment: Guerrillas and drug traffickers are destroying Colombia’s valuable Amazon forestlands to create industrial coca plantations. In addition, widespread dumping of precursor chemicals into Amazon river systems creates enormous pollution. The Uribe administration is developing reforestation programs to rehabilitate forest lands destroyed by drug traffickers and to create employment for former coca peasants to manage these lands sustainably. U.S.-based environmental groups are providing assistance and technical support to repair the damage done to Colombia’s environment.
  • Support for the Iraq effort: Colombia is among the 30 nations (and the only one in South America) which publicly supported the U.S.-led coalition against Saddam Hussein. President Uribe expressed support for President Bush and the U.S.-led effort to disarm the Iraqi regime.