February 11, 2016

Presidents Santos and Obama Launch New Era in Bilateral Relations
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and U.S. President Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office on February 4. Photo Credit: César Carrión
Last week, Plan Colombia and continued U.S. support for Colombia’s remarkable transformation topped the agenda for President Juan Manuel Santos’s meeting with President Obama at the White House, and throughout his three-day visit to Washington, DC. The two presidents met on Thursday, February 4, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Plan Colombia and to launch a new era in bilateral relations – an initiative called Peace Colombia, or Paz Colombia, in Spanish. Following their meeting, the presidents delivered remarks in the East Room at a reception to celebrate the successes of Plan Colombia and look ahead to the future of the joint partnership.

Here’s a snapshot of what the two leaders said…
On Plan Colombia:
Obama: “We were proud to support Colombia and its people as you strengthened your security forces, as you reformed land laws, and bolstered democratic institutions. … And after 15 years of sacrifice and determination, a tipping point has been reached. The tide has turned.”

Santos: “Today I come back to Washington to thank you – to thank the people and the government of the United States for the support that they have given to Colombia during the last 15 years. … Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – as well as my predecessors, Andres Pastrana and Alvaro Uribe; the Secretaries, Ministers, Ambassadors, and high officials of both governments – the Senators, the Congressmen of the United States and of Colombia; the leaders and members of the armed forces and the police of both countries; of businessmen and so many people who have contributed to this plan … .”
On Colombia’s Transformation:
Obama: “Today’s Colombia is a country of artists and entrepreneurs and dynamic cities. In the barrios of Medellin, new businesses – along with giant outdoor escalators up the hillsides – are quite literally lifting people out of poverty. Children who once hid in fear now have the chance to pursue their dreams. In short, a country that was on the brink of collapse is now on the brink of peace.”

Santos: “We’ve gone from the worst economic recession in our recent history to being leaders in economic growth in Latin America. And not just in growth; we are also leaders in job creation, in reducing poverty, in strengthening our middle class. … All of these advances are due in great part to the fact that 15 years ago, when we were in such serious straits, the Colombians received a friendly hand. And that friendly hand came from here, from Washington -- from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans.” 
 On Peace and the Future of the Partnership:
Obama: “You’ve committed to an agreement that upholds Colombia’s national and international legal obligations, and you’ve put victims at the center of this process. ... Of course, peace will just be the first step. Any agreement will have to be implemented. And just as the United States has been Colombia’s partner in a time of war, I indicated to President Santos we will be your partner in waging peace. So today, I’m proud to announce a new framework for the next chapter of our partnership. And we’re going to call it Peace Colombia – Paz Colombia.”

“Peace will be the cherry on the cake of Plan Colombia and the start of a new chapter – a new chapter of collaboration and friendship between our two nations; … Paz Colombia. Peace Colombia. Peace will help us consolidate a new nation, a country that will be safer, more prosperous, more just and equitable, better educated, and of course, happier. … And we will build this new country in cooperation, shoulder-to-shoulder, with a dear and true friend – the United States of America.”
To watch the event, click here or on the image above. For the full transcript of the Plan Colombia event, click here. Learn more about Peace Colombia here.
President Santos Meets with Key Administration Officials,
Top Congressional Leaders
President Santos also met with Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as with U.S. House and Senate leadership, to discuss a wide range of issues on the bilateral agenda.
“Vice President Biden has been one of Colombia’s strongest allies
in this Administration.”

President Santos and Vice President Biden at the U.S. Naval Observatory on February 4; Photo Credit: César Carrión
At the Vice President’s residence last Thursday morning, Biden and Santos highlighted Colombia’s progress through Plan Colombia and the future of the Colombia-U.S. partnership.

President Santos stated:
“The United States and Colombia have enjoyed decades of friendship, and it was my distinct pleasure to discuss our enduring partnership with Vice President Biden. The Obama Administration has been an ardent proponent of peace and stability in Colombia, and the Vice President has been one of our strongest allies in his Administration. I thanked the Vice President for his steadfast support, and we discussed how our nations can continue to work together for our mutual benefit.”
 “We can now say that the purposes of Plan Colombia were achieved.”
President Santos and Secretary Kerry at the State Department on February 5; Photo Credit: César Carrión
On Friday, February 5, at the State Department, President Santos met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and participated in a joint press availability.

Secretary Kerry stated:
“… Colombia, under President Santos’s strong leadership, has reached a pivotal stage in the effort to try to end the war with the rebel group FARC, a war that has lasted almost half a century. … When I went to Colombia two years ago, President Santos expressed this vision of possibility to me and asked for our help, and because of our early engagement in the Plan Colombia effort, it was only natural that we would say, of course, we are pleased to be able to try to help. … And looking ahead, we have to remember that the key to Plan Colombia’s success was always its comprehensive vision of how security is established, and a commitment to stay the course until the job is done.”

President Santos stated:
“Fifteen years ago, nobody would imagine that today, we would have the results that the world is seeing. … [W]e can now say that the purposes of Plan Colombia were achieved. And we hope that in the next – that in 15 years from now we meet again so that we can say that Peace Colombia also was achieved successfully. This mutual assistance, this cooperation with the U.S., has yielded enormous results for the U.S.’s main strategic and trade partner, the most important investor in the country. That’s why we give so much value to the help and cooperation we’ve received and will continue to receive. There is a real commitment not just to work for Colombia, but to work with Colombia for the good of our country and for the good of the region.”

To watch the press availability, click here, and for the full transcript, click here.
 “We thank the leaders and members of this distinguished institution – current and past, from both sides of the aisle – for their support.”
Photo Credit: @SpeakerRyan
On his first day in Washington, Wednesday, February 3, President Santos met with Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the chairmen and ranking members of key committees with jurisdiction over issues central to the Colombia-U.S. partnership. On Thursday, President Santos met with a bipartisan group of Senate leaders. Santos and congressional leaders discussed a wide range of issues on the bilateral agenda, including the successes of Plan Colombia and the future of the Colombia-U.S. partnership. 

Following the meetings, Santos stated:
 President Santos and U.S. House Leaders at Blair House on February 3; Photo Credit: César Carrión
“Colombia’s comeback would not have been possible without sustained, bipartisan American support, particularly from the U.S. Congress. We thank the leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate – current and past, from both sides of the aisle – for their support. The people of Colombia will forever be grateful, and as we turn another page on our past in the pursuit of lasting peace, we look forward to continued U.S. support and friendship.”
President Santos Honors Members of Armed Forces and National Police at
Arlington National Cemetery

“Together, the United States and Colombia have sacrificed to ensure a better future for our people, our region and the world.”
 President Santos lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery on February 4; Photo Credit: CésarCarrión
In a sign of solidarity with America’s Armed Forces, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery on Thursday.

Following the ceremony, Santos stated: “As commander in chief and former Defense Minister, I know firsthand the sacrifices that our Armed Forces and National Police have made in the fight for peace in Colombia. Because of the bravery of the men and women in uniform who defend our flag, our freedom and our democracy, today Colombia is a different country. I salute our Armed Forces, and I salute the U.S. military forces who have given so much so that we might ensure that history is not repeated and that Colombia continues to advance on the path to lasting peace and prosperity. Together, the United States and Colombia have sacrificed to ensure a better future for our people, our region and the world.”
President Santos Welcomes Formation of CEO Advisory Board at
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Photo Credit: @USChamber
Meeting with a group of American business leaders on Wednesday, February 3, President Santos announced that a CEO Advisory Board has been formed to support Colombia’s post-conflict economy and further advance the country’s growth. The announcement came as part of a wider discussion about the business and economic outlook for Colombia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Santos said: “The U.S. business community has helped Colombia become the fastest-growing economy in South America, so I am particularly honored to welcome continued U.S. business support for our country as part of my visit to thank the United States for all the support it has given Colombia. We look forward to working with the members of this CEO Advisory Board to produce even greater economic growth and prosperity for Colombians in the post-conflict period.”

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and former CEO of the Kellogg Company, Carlos Gutierrez, and former CIA Director and U.S. Central Command Commander, General David Petraeus, have accepted the invitation to be founding members of this Advisory Board. 
Watch the archived webcast of the event here.
Santos Discusses Colombia’s Transformation and Vision for the Future with U.S. Thought Leaders
Photo Credit: @TheWilsonCenter
Distinguished American thought leaders joined President Santos on Wednesday, February 3, to discuss Colombia’s progress over the past 15 years, the strategic partnership with the United States, and Colombia’s path forward to lasting peace and prosperity. Dignitaries from the Atlantic Council, Council of the Americas, Inter-American Dialogue, United States Institute of Peace and the Wilson Center participated in the discussion, and NPR’s Tom Gjelten moderated the event.
Watch the archived webcast here.
Santos Inaugurates New U.S. Embassy in Washington and Celebrates Colombian Culture at ‘Delirio’ Performance
President Santos, Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. Juan Carlos Pinzón and Colombian Ambassador to the Organization of American States Andrés González at inauguration of new Colombian Embassy in Washington. Ambassador Pinzón, President Santos, Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs María Ángela Holguín and Ambassador González; Photo Credit: César Carrión
On Wednesday, February 3, following a ribbon untying ceremony at Colombia’s new Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC, President Santos celebrated Colombian culture at a Delirio performance at Lincoln Theatre. 
President Santos addresses the crowd gathered for Delirio after being introduced by Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega. Delirio delights the crowd. Photo Credit: Edgar Becerra
Santos said: “It was my distinguished privilege to inaugurate our new Embassy in the heart of Washington, DC, and then share with the United States Colombia’s rich art, culture and heritage with a performance by our very own Delirio. The back-to-back events were a wonderful way to end the first full day of my official visit to Washington to thank the United States for its enduring friendship and support.”

Delirio performers wowed a packed house with an awe-inspiring show of salsa, circus and song after an introduction by Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega, who also attended the Embassy celebration.

About the New Colombian Embassy:

The new Embassy at 1724 Massachusetts Avenue is Colombia’s hub in Washington, DC, bringing together the representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – the Embassy to the United States, Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States and the consulate – with officials from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism. The building also houses PROCOLOMBIA, Colombia’s tourism, foreign investment and export promotion agency, as well as representatives from the national Attorney General’s office.
Santos Goes Face-to-Face with Leading Journalists to Discuss Colombia’s

Peace and Progress
President Santos sat down with BBC World News America, Bloomberg, “FOX & Friends” and PBS “NewsHour.” Click on the images below to watch each interview.
Get to know Colombia.
Learn more at www.colombiaemb.org.

See more from President Santos’s visit: @ColAmbPinzon or @PinzonBuenoEmb
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