Following a very exciting election, it seemed fitting to transition into a bit of U.S. Colombian foreign relations, which can be traced back to 1822 when the U.S. recognized Colombia as an independent nation. La Gran Colombia consisted of Panamá, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador which became Nueva Granada when Venezuela and Ecuador split off in 1829. In 1903, the region became what we recognize as Colombia today after Panama gained independence through a fiery revolution fostered by Teddy Roosevelt’s vision – the Panama Canal.
Any negative sentiments toward the U.S. were left unannounced because, much like now, it was an important trading partner – especially for coffee. Relations continued to be pivotal not only in trade but also in military support even though these may have been strained due to political views represented by each nation’s governments. However, post-WWII relations bonded the countries as Colombia became the third largest recipient of U.S. aid in the 60’s as a way of securing post-WWII alliances and aiding in Colombia’s reforms. Though certain Colombian administrations took a nonalignment stand during the Cold War, the developing conflict in Colombia which eventually evolved to include narcotrafficking caused a need for a series of antidrug efforts between the two countries.
In support of Colombia’s effort to regain control of areas controlled by armed groups, the U.S. provides support via Plan Colombia. Plan Colombia signed in 2000, was a $1.6 billion package to help aid in the peace process, strengthen the economy, and target the drug problem. The effectiveness and approach of this has been a topic of discussion and one that I continuously question. This, along with the Free Trade Agreement that came into effect this year, five years after being signed, is sure to keep U.S.-Colombian relations interesting.
It’s inevitable that Colombia will be tied to the U.S. as a trade partner and political ally. As I progress through different issues, the relationship between these two countries and the effects of their policies will be discussed.