Colombia is one of the oldest democracies in Latin America. The United States and Colombia share a commitment to promoting security, prosperity, and democratic governance in Colombia and across the Western Hemisphere. Today though a vibrant democracy and a growing market oriented economy, Colombia is racked by internal conflict, domestic political and economic challenges, and a continued influx of refugees fleeing Venezuelan repression.
The recently secured peace with FARC ending a 50+ year internal conflict leaves Colombia still facing huge domestic challenges in addition to an ongoing conflict with the ELN, a dangerous secondary guerrilla movement. The economic downturn in petroleum prices has severely limited the revenue resources for Colombia in addition to the absence of an acceptable infrastructure so necessary to the economic and investment growth necessary to fuel reform measures that would nourish a depleted nation. Also facing Colombia has been land, education, and health reform issues.
According to the United Nations, 1.4 million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia. Historically, Colombia has always been generous with its neighbor, Venezuela, but a half century of dealing with internal insurrection has diminished its capacity to deal with one of the worse humanitarian crises in regional history. It lacks the institutional framework to adequately deal with the humanitarian and economic crisis that has been generated by Venezuelan refugees fleeing across Colombia’s border to escape political repression and economic disaster by an incompetent Maduro regime. Colombia’s determination to create a reform agenda to deal with its domestic issues has been severely stunted by this massive refugee influx.
Ivan Duque’s government faces major internal and external challenges, and the Venezuelan crisis has added a layer of civic turmoil to a nation already facing monumental challenges. What must it do in order to deal with the refugee issue and its citizen’s yearning for normalcy when it faces an ever-belligerent neighbor to the north?
ACIR is honored to host Francisco Santos, Ambassador of Colombia to the United States, who will discuss the topic, "U.S.-Colombia Relations: Today and Tomorrow."
Former Vice President of Colombia (2002-2010); journalist. political and citizen participation activist.
Head of national debate of the Democratic Center Party in 2017. He ran for Mayor of Bogota on the Democratic Center Party ticket in 2015. He created the Fundación Confianza Colombia, promoting democracy and citizen participation in public affairs, as well as developing ideas in the political, economic and social spheres.
As Vice President during the Uribe administration, his policy priorities were the fight against corruption, extortion and kidnapping and ridding the country of anti-personnel mines. In that role, he also led Colombia’s international promotion of trade, investment and tourism.
Due to threats from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), he was exiled in Madrid, Spain, for two years (2000-2002). Previous to that, in 1990 Santos was kidnapped for eight months on orders from drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. He founded the world’s first NGO against kidnapping, Fundación País Libre and promoted the Anti-Kidnapping Statute, the first and, to date, only law proposed and tabled by public petition via signature collection in Colombia.
He held several editorial positions the newspaper El Tiempo throughout the 1980s including night Editor-in-Chief. In the late 1980s, Santos also taught journalism and international relations at, among others, Universidad Central, Universidad Javeriana and Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano.
Born on October 14, 1961 in Bogota; married to Maria Victoria García, they have four children: Benjamin, Gabriel, Carmen and Pedro. He completed his studies in the United States at the University of Kansas and the University of Texas, earning degrees in Journalism and Latin-American Studies, respectively. He was awarded the Neiman Fellowship at Harvard University and the Paul Harris Medal in 1993, the highest distinction given by Rotary International.
Lunch is provided with registration.