Posted on February 3, 2017 11:33 am
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Categories: World

All Bets Are Off: What Trump Could Mean to Peace in Colombia (E)

Colombia is widely considered America’s strongest ally in Latin America. The alliance between the two states is built on Colombia’s entrenched and complex domestic conflict. Though first motivated by an ideological war with communism, the partnership would come to be defined by the U.S.’s war on drugs. President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971. Rather than addressing domestic demand for drugs, the U.S. government chose to wage war against those producing and trafficking drugs. As a result, Colombia became a focal point for the U.S.’s anti-drug policies. For decades, the Colombian government has received American military and financial support.

Over the years, American interference has undoubtedly contributed to the escalation and complication of the conflict in Colombia. Less than a decade ago, the U.S. was engaging in covert operations against FARC leaders, often in violation of international law. However, in a rare move away from traditional security approaches, the Obama Administration began pushing for peace between the Colombian government and FARC as early as 2009.

In 2015, after a turbulent fews years, Colombian and FARC representatives hammered out the details of a deal which was ultimately defeated in a referendum. A slightly reworked deal was approved by the Colombian congress in late November. The U.S. took the backseat throughout the negotiation process, but a $450 million aid package from the Obama administration was crucial for peace.

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Were Trump to oppose the current peace deal, he may well find support from a sizable portion of Colombians who feel their government should not be negotiating with FARC or any other rebel group. This move would not be unthinkable considering Trump’s rhetoric concerning terrorist groups has been unapologetically aggressive, and both FARC and the ELN remain on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

If Trump is unwilling to continue Obama’s move away from traditional security policies in Colombia, the peace process in Colombia could stall. Even if Trump upholds existing deals and promises between the U.S., Colombia, and FARC, the Colombian government may have to conduct future peace negotiations without American financial or diplomatic support. LawStreetMedia