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Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) led 10 Senators in a bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden in support of the U.S.-Colombia relationship. The Senators underscored Colombia’s significance as one of the United States’ most important strategic partners in the Western Hemisphere and also highlighted the importance of our nation’s continued support for Colombia’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, Rubio, Menendez, and Kaine urged President Biden to prioritize surplus COVID-19 vaccine access for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Citing the compounding effects of the months-long nationwide strikes and blockades over social and economic inequalities in Colombia, the Senators also raised the importance of helping safeguard human rights, democracy, and stability in the region following growing episodes of violence against demonstrators by Colombian security forces as well as armed civilians.   

Joining Rubio, Menendez, and Kaine in sending the letter were Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).

“The Colombian people are facing an unprecedented combination of challenges and it is important that the United States demonstrate its unwavering support for them at this critical juncture,” the Senators wrote to President Biden. “We urge you to expand engagement with our democratic partner as the Colombian government moves forward in protecting the rule of law and human rights for all Colombians, while striving to alleviate the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the legacy of the longest civil war in the Americas.”   

Rubio is the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.

The full text of the letter is below. 

Dear President Biden: 

We write to express our concern over the situation in Colombia, a country that stands as the United States’ most important partner in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Colombian people are facing an unprecedented combination of challenges and it is important that the United States demonstrate its unwavering support for them at this critical juncture. We urge you to expand engagement with our democratic partner as the Colombian government moves forward in protecting the rule of law and human rights for all Colombians, while striving to alleviate the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the legacy of the longest civil war in the Americas. 

For more than two decades, Colombia has enjoyed strong bipartisan support from the United States and has provided a vital source of stability in the region despite considerable challenges. In response to the influx into Colombia of nearly two million refugees and migrants fleeing the brutal Maduro regime in Venezuela, Colombians have provided unparalleled generosity and willingness to host them. Colombian authorities have cooperated with American agencies to combat transnational criminal organizations and illegal armed groups whose drug trade brings with it a terrible cost to both of our countries. 

However, with the country facing a third wave of the COVID-19 virus, Colombia is now seeking to resolve nationwide demonstrations sparked by the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, which pushed 3.6 million Colombians into poverty last year. As thousands of Colombians have taken to the streets, the intermittent shutdown of key roads, damage to public infrastructure and ongoing violent clashes has limited vaccine distribution across the country and ultimately set back earnest efforts to address the Colombian people’s needs. It is critical that all parties continue engaging in meaningful dialogue and negotiation, and establish mechanisms to ensure follow through. 

The United States, under your leadership, can play a helpful role in accompanying and supporting Colombia. The U.S.-Colombia partnership and the security of the Colombian people must continue to transcend party affiliation and political philosophy. Our relationship is rooted in shared democratic values and a shared interest in promoting peace and stability for Colombia, its neighbors, and the whole region. 

That is why, during this period of unrest, we have been concerned by incidents of violence against protesters. We welcome that the Colombian government has condemned cases of human rights abuses and support its commitment to thoroughly investigate incidents of excessive use of force and abuses by Colombian security forces, as well as significant evidence of civilians using lethal weapons against peaceful protestors. We are supportive of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ engagement on these issues in order to promote the defense of human rights and investigate the recent incidents. 

As you know, the road to lasting peace is long and uncertain—an agreement on its own cannot succeed without the commitment of all parties to its full implementation. Since 2016, many of us have traveled to Colombia to observe implementation of the peace process. It is clear that genuine support for a peace process by all sides is the best path forward to ensure that Colombia does not return to conflict and can more successfully confront illicit narcotics trafficking. To this end, we express our sustained commitment to supporting Colombia’s efforts to build a lasting peace. 

In 2020, you referred to Colombia as the “keystone” of U.S. policy towards Latin America. We agree and urge high-level attention to this unfolding and complicated situation. We respectfully request that you direct the State Department and USAID to prioritize assisting Colombia in resolving this crisis. The United States must stand by our partner’s side in the interest of upholding human rights, democracy, and stability in the region.

Sincerely,

RUBIO, MENÉNDEZ Y KAINE LIDERAN CARTA BIPARTIDISTA A POTUS REAFIRMANDO LA IMPORTANCIA DE LA RELACIÓN ENTRE COLOMBIA Y EE.UU.

Washington, D.C. — Los senadores estadounidenses Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) y Tim Kaine (D-VA) fueron acompañados por 10 senadores enviando una carta bipartidista al presidente Joe Biden en apoyo de la relación entre EE.UU. y Colombia. Los senadores resaltaron la importancia de Colombia como uno de los socios estratégicos más importantes de EE.UU. en el hemisferio occidental y también destacaron la importancia del continuo apoyo de nuestra nación a los esfuerzos de Colombia para combatir la pandemia del COVID-19. A principios de este año, Rubio, Menéndez y Kaine instaron al presidente Biden a priorizar el acceso de vacunas excedentes contra el COVID-19 para Latinoamérica y el Caribe.

Citando los efectos agravados de las huelgas y los bloqueos nacionales por temas de desigualdad social y económica en Colombia, los senadores destacaron la importancia de ayudar a salvaguardar los DDHH., la democracia y la estabilidad en la región tras los crecientes episodios de violencia contra manifestantes por parte de la seguridad colombiana y por civiles armados.

Junto a Rubio, Menéndez y Kaine estaban los senadores Ben Cardin (D-MD), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Roger Wicker (R- MS), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rob Portman (R-OH) y Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).

“El pueblo colombiano se enfrenta a una combinación de desafíos sin precedentes y es importante que EE.UU. demuestre su apoyo inquebrantable a Colombia durante esta delicada coyuntura”, los senadores escribieron al presidente Biden. “Lo instamos a ampliar los esfuerzos de acercamiento a nuestro aliado democrático a medida que el gobierno colombiano busca avanzar la protección del estado de derecho y los derechos humanos de todos los colombianos, al mismo tiempo que también hace esfuerzos para aliviar los impactos sociales y económicos de la pandemia del COVID-19 y el legado de la guerra civil más larga de las Américas".

El texto de la carta en inglés está aquí

Rubio es el Miembro de Más Alto Rango del Subcomité sobre Hemisferio Occidental, Crimen Transnacional, Seguridad Civil, Democracia, Derechos Humanos y Asuntos Globales de la Mujer.