News / USA

    Obama Ramps Up Aid to Colombia as Peace Deal With Rebels Nears

    President Barack Obama shakes hands with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, Feb. 4, 2016.
    President Barack Obama shakes hands with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, Feb. 4, 2016.
    Mary Alice Salinas

    President Barack Obama promised Thursday to provide more financial aid and other support for Colombia as its government prepares to finalize a peace deal with left-wing guerrillas it has battled for more than 50 years.

    After meeting with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House, Obama announced additional funding and other measures he said would help Colombia rebuild after reaching a peace accord with the Marxist rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

    Negotiations have entered the final stages, and if an agreement is reached, it will end Latin America’s longest-running insurgency. White House officials predict a deal will be finalized in this first part of the year.

    After meeting in the Oval Office, the two leaders spoke at a reception to mark the 15-year anniversary of Plan Colombia, a joint initiative started to help end the armed conflict and drug trade in Colombia.

    The effort, which spanned presidencies and party lines, has reached “a tipping point,” Obama said. “A country that was on the brink of collapse is now on the brink of peace.”

    He announced a framework, called Peace Colombia, marking a “new era of partnership.”

    The U.S. leader proposed that more than $450 million be devoted to reinforcing security gains in Colombia, reintegrating former combatants into society and extending the rule of law and opportunities into areas where they had not existed. He also vowed to continue supporting efforts to fight drug trafficking and its effects in both countries.

    Removal of mines

    As part of global de-mining efforts, the U.S. will also support Colombia as it works to remove every land mine in the country within five years, Obama said.

    Santos told the audience, including members of the Colombian delegation and U.S. lawmakers from both parties, “Today, we see the future with hope.”

    Santos recalled how 15 years ago, Colombia was in the throes of the worst economic recession in decades and had lost nearly two-thirds of its territory to paramilitary and guerrilla fighters, both supported by drug trafficking.

    “We were very close to being declared a failed state,” the Colombian leader said. “We had a very dark and uncertain future.”

    He thanked the U.S. for its partnership and noted that Colombia is enjoying economic growth, job creation, reduced poverty, a rising middle class and falling crime rates.

    White House officials have said the U.S. still has concerns about human rights, justice for victims and the drug trade in Colombia.

    The Obama administration has said it will ask Congress for additional funding in its 2017 budget to help Colombia recover after a peace accord is reached.

    “This request will demonstrate our intention to help Colombia successfully implement its peace agreement,” said Mark Feierstein, the National Security Council senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs.

    In Colombia, both government and rebel negotiators have been meeting in Havana for months to close in on a peace deal during talks sponsored by Norway and Cuba. Santos has set a March deadline for reaching a treaty.

    The White House said the relationship developed under Plan Colombia had allowed the two nations to expand collaboration in “new areas of mutual interest,” including the fight against the spread of the Zika virus.

    The two nations agreed to intensify collaboration, speed up probes into the effects of the Zika virus, and conduct joint research to help diagnose, treat and control the virus.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ricardo from: Brazil
    February 05, 2016 7:41 AM
    Congratulations President Obama! Peace will be good for the Americas, including the United States and Canada.

    The sale of drugs is the main source of income of the Colombian guerrilla group, peace will reduce its production and export to the United States.

    The US Drug Enforcement department along with the Mexican government should, immediately, hire several Colombian guerrillas to help in combating drug production in Mexico, as well as its export to the US.

    by: Nathaly
    February 04, 2016 10:03 PM
    Hey Voa, 1st hope you are reading this, 2nd It is just a comment since i am from Colombia, and my native language is not English. Honestly, the war in colombia is beyond money, even being this "debt" got bigger right now. I would like more educational invesment in my country, so that MANY town people can move on from traficking drugs. Well, my idea is bigger, so, i would like more attention in other REALLY CONCERNING aspects..regards
    In Response

    by: henok from: Texas, United States
    February 05, 2016 7:54 AM
    Dear Nathaly. Good thing you care about the welfare of your country and fellow citizens. You want investment and opportunities for Colombia from us and others, the way forward is to approve the peace deal your president is advocating. He has said he will put the peace deal he is negotiating into public referendem in March/April 2015. If the citizens of your country approve it and permanent peace comes to Colombia. Colombia will attract foreign investments and foreign tourists and that will create the opportunities you asking for. And for us Americans, we will gain a lot from the decline of the 90% of all heroin and cocaine your country supplies to our youth population in America's streets.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora