WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senators Ben Cardin [D-MD] and Roy Blunt [R-MO] introduced S.Res. 148: A resolution supporting efforts by the Government of Colombia to pursue peace and regional stability to the U.S. Senate. The hope is that this resolution will show American support for ongoing efforts by the Government of Colombia to bring an end to armed conflict within its borders.
The Senators are co-chairs of the Atlantic Council’s Colombia Task Force. Both explained the rationale for the legislation, which is currently up for consideration. In a statement, Cardin said, “Colombia has made great strides to bring peace, security, good governance and economic prosperity to its country.” According to Cardin, the U.S. and Colombia have a strategic partnership and the security and prosperity of both countries will benefit from Colombia addressing the issues described in the resolution.
Senator Blunt noted that the changes Colombia’s government has made over the past two decades have strengthened U.S.-Colombia relations and provided new opportunities for improving the strategic partnership further. He declared, “Now is the time to ensure Colombia has a solid foundation for continued growth and investment.”
Senate Resolution 148
S.Res. 148 reaffirms the many shared interests between the U.S. and Colombia to fight the illicit narcotics trade and transnational organized crime, promote democratic governance, bolster economic growth and defend human rights. The resolution notes the progress Colombia has made to achieve these ends, partially due to U.S. assistance over the past few decades. U.S. aid to Colombia has included $11 billion, political and technical advice, military assistance and intelligence-sharing.
This U.S. assistance has paid off. According to the resolution, crime and violence rates have declined in Colombia over the past 20 years. For instance, homicide rates had plummeted “to a record low of 23 per 100,000 people in 2017,” down from 1999 when it was 62 per 100,000 people. Due to improved economic policies and security measures, the Colombian GDP has increased since 1999 from $86 billion “to more than $309 billion in 2017.”
Furthermore, direct foreign investment in the country had increased from $1.5 billion to approximately $14 billion from 1999 to 2017. The United States’ economic relationship with Colombia has benefited Americans as well since it provided more than 100,000 U.S. jobs. Perhaps the most notable improvement in the last 15 years was the poverty rate in Colombia. It decreased from 64% to 27% between 1999 and 2017.
S.Res. 148 calls on the U.S. Government to cooperate with American and Colombian leaders in the public and private sectors and civil society to build on this progress. It directs the Secretary of State to devise a comprehensive strategy for Colombia to manage the effects of the crisis in Venezuela while continuing to maintain peace and stability in Colombian territories that were previously in conflict.
Status of the Resolution
Senator Benjamin Cardin [D-MD] introduced S.Res. 148: A resolution supporting efforts by the Government of Colombia to pursue peace and regional stability on April 9, 2019. Sen. Blunt [R-MO] co-sponsored the resolution. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations had it under review. On May 21, 2020, the committee ordered a report on the resolution to go to the full Senate chamber for consideration.
S.Res. 148 expresses U.S. support for the Government of Colombia’s efforts to pursue peace and regional stability. The resolution commends the government’s strides to end internal armed conflict in Colombia and reaffirms the bilateral partnership between the U.S. and Colombian governments “on issues of mutual interest” and as an essential pillar of U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.
– Sarah Frazer