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Rice Visit Confirms Colombia as America's Key Ally In the Region

According to Spain's El Semanal newspaper, Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic trip to Colombia ended in 'total understanding' between the two sides -- in other words, it was a diplomatic love fest.

April 29, 2005

Original Article (Spanish)    

Condoleeza Rice's first visit to Colombia has ended in an atmosphere of total understanding between the two countries, which is quite opposite of what happened during the first stop of her Latin American trip in Brazil (where clear differences emerged between Brasilia and Washington).

This affinity was demonstrated when Rice expressed Washington's complete support for the policies of President Alvaro Uribe. So it is that Bogota has without a doubt become the Bush Administration's principal ally in the region. Not in vain, Rice referred to Colombia as a friendly, allied nation.

The understanding between the two sides took shape after the meeting held between Uribe and Rice, when the Secretary declared that although the U.S. Plan for Colombia ends this year, Washington will continue cooperating with Bogota in the fight against drugs and terrorism. The Plan for Colombia began in 2000 and was written to expire in five years. During this period, the United States has given Colombia about $3 billion with the purpose of eradicating narcotics trafficking. Although there has been some success in reducing this type of activity, the success has not been proportional with the sale of drugs in North America, which far from being reduced, has actually increased. For this reason, some analysts consider the Plan for Colombia to be a failure.

But none of this seems to matter to Rice, who confirmed that Washington would give Colombia $600 million this year to increase its fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as improve security for Colombian citizens, and strengthen democracy and human rights.

In the opinion of the U.S. government, on balance Bogota has fought hard and has shown concrete results in these objectives. In addition, the "right hand" of  President George W. Bush praised Uribe's efforts ahead of negotiations with paramilitary groups, as well as Bogota's intention to begin a dialogue with the National Liberation Army.

— BBC News Video: Colombian Rebels Reject Amnesty Offer, Apr. 11, 00:01:34

It is no secret that Colombia under Uribe and Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, have not been enjoying close relations. Among other things, given the closeness of Bogota to Washington, the Venezuelan president is "enemy number one." Nevertheless, when Condoleezza Rice attacked the Chavez government, Colombian Foreign Minister Carolina Barco took a more conciliatory tone, saying that Venezuela is a sovereign country that "should be permitted to purchase weapons for its legitimate defense, for its internal needs." In addition, Barco declared that it is very important for her country to cooperation with Caracas in the fight against drugs.

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