Is Colombia losing the special status it has had for years in its bilateral relationship with the United States?
Maybe not yet, but certain fissures were evident this Wednesday afternoon during a hearing at the Committee on Foreign Relations where the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, He omitted to mention our country when making a list of nations in the hemisphere that are standing up for democracy.
The issue was put on the table by former vice-presidential candidate and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine. The Senator asked Blinken which countries were doing the best in a region that, in his opinion, is in democratic decline.
“Who are the ones who are standing up in the region, because this is a region that is in a democratic setback, not in all of them, but who are the ones who are standing out, for example, denouncing these bad behaviors,” he told him. the senator.
Blinken, in his response, mentioned by name the cases of Ecuador, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Panama, but not Colombia.
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“We have countries like Ecuador, which despite serious challenges, continues to stand firm, or Chile, which speaks up and convincingly because this is not only a right-wing government but also a left-wing one. And we have countries like Costa Rica, which continues to be a champion… But there are also other countries that have been very solid with us, such as the Dominican Republic and Panama. So even though there are trends that are moving in a certain direction, we still have strong allies who want to work with us,” the Secretary said.
Although the exclusion of Colombia in this list of featured countries may be a simple forgetfulness, it did attract attention because Colombia until recently it was considered in the US, both by Republicans and Democrats, as an example for the region and the world and the best ally of the US in the hemisphere.
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A detail that did not go unnoticed by Kaine himself. “It seemed to me a very notable exclusion,” the senator told this newspaper after leaving the hearing.
Despite the fact that there are trends that are moving in a certain direction, we still have strong allies
In Kaine’s opinion, “It’s not that the US no longer thinks of Colombia as an allied country, But there are questions right now about his direction.”
The issue is valid because next week the US holds its Second Summit on Democracy that the US president himself, Joe Biden, installed in Washington and where Costa Rica was chosen as the representative of the region.
Although the agenda for the Summit spans three days and is not finalized, Colombian officials do not appear on the State Department website as keynote speakers at the event.
That said, Colombia’s status as a privileged nation by the US will also be ratified next week. when both countries meet in Washington for the High-Level Dialogues between the two nations, an event that has been taking place for several years and in which both countries coordinate cooperation on multiple fronts.
(Keep reading: US State Department honors Afro-Colombian and indigenous youth)
The dialogue, which will be installed by Blinken at the State Department, brings together senior officials from both countries over two days. The Colombian delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva, includes four other ministers from the government of Gustavo Petro.
And surely, at the end, a joint statement will be issued highlighting the strength of the relationship.
In any case, the “question mark” Kaine speaks of and Blinken’s “omission” during the hearing are signs to watch out for.
SERGIO GOMEZ MASERI
EL TIEMPO correspondent
On Twitter: @sergom68
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