Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart concerned about U.S. relationship with Colombia
Díaz-Balart expressed concern that Petro's actions and comments could jeopardize the successful relationship between the United States and Colombia.
April 20, 2023 1:00am
Updated: April 20, 2023 9:29am
U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart met with Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Wednesday to express Congress's concerns about his considerations to legalize cocaine and other dangerous narcotics.
Diaz-Balart, chairman of the State Department's Appropriations Subcommittee, expressed concern that Petro's actions and comments could jeopardize the successful relationship between the United States and Colombia, which has received more than $13 billion in assistance to promote security, eradicate drug trafficking and combat terrorism.
"Since the successful Colombia Plan, the United States has provided more than $13 billion in assistance to promote security, eradicate drug trafficking, and combat terrorism in Colombia. However, the actions and comments of Colombia's new president have jeopardized the successful relationship between the United States and Colombia," the representative said in a statement.
One of Díaz-Balart's main concerns is the lack of a clear anti-drug policy by the new Colombian government. Although Petro has called for an end to the war on drugs, which he described as "irrational," the eradication of illicit crops in the country has decreased significantly compared to previous years.
Díaz-Balart emphasized that he will not allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to support a government in Colombia that allows drug production and trafficking. Likewise, he expressed his concern about Petro's meetings with dictator Nicolás Maduro.
The United States will not back a "government in Colombia that supports the Maduro regime through intelligence sharing or funding, that allows Russia a foothold in the country, that partners with the Cuban regime to facilitate human trafficking, and under which the trafficking and production of drugs is permitted".
Gustavo Petro is on a tour of the United States that includes a meeting with President Joe Biden and a speech before the Organization of American States (OAS), where he expressed his interest in reintegrating the Nicolás Maduro regime into the organization and considered that it is important to talk with Cuba so that it returns to the entity.
Diaz-Balart noted that if the Colombian president decides to support rogue, anti-U.S. actors in the region, he would be responsible for destroying the foundations of the U.S.-Colombia relationship.