When former Marxist terrorist Gustavo Petro received Colombia’s presidential elections in June, the USA misplaced its most vital navy ally in Latin America.
Late final month, Petro opened his 1,400-mile border with the narcoterrorist regime in Venezuela, a border that was closed in 2019 when Colombia joined the USA and practically 60 different nations in breaking diplomatic ties with Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro following fraudulent 2018 elections.
Colombia’s new president now has dramatically shifted the Andean nation’s international coverage in a matter of weeks.
U.S. policymakers needs to be alarmed for a minimum of 4 causes.
First, look to Venezuela. On the Sept. 26 border reopening, it wasn’t Maduro himself who greeted Petro however his transportation minister, Ramon Velasquez Araguayan. Velasquez beforehand was president of Conviasa, the U.S.-sanctioned Venezuelan state airline with long-standing ties to Tehran.
Conviasa owns the Iranian cargo aircraft with hyperlinks to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that was seized in Argentina this previous June. Final week, U.S. officers blocked Conviasa from resuming common flights to Bogota, Colombia’s capital, albeit failing to the identical in different nations. However the Maduro regime merely despatched one other state-linked airline as a substitute.
On the Colombia-Venezuela border, Petro additionally was greeted by Freddy Bernal, the governor of neighboring Tachira state, one other Venezuelan topic to U.S. sanctions for facilitating arm gross sales to the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, generally known as FARC. Bernal has admitted that his border state-owned oil refineries host Chinese language and Iranian “advisers.”
Upon assuming workplace Aug. 7, Petro despatched a high-profile confidante as ambassador to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. His protection minister has resumed cooperation with the Venezuelan navy, which lately hosted battle video games sponsored by Russia and China.
Petro additionally ceded management of the Colombia-based Venezuelan fertilizer big Monomeros again to Maduro. With the border opened, Colombia is now open for enterprise with Venezuela and its worldwide legal provide chains tied to China, Russia, and Iran.
Second, Petro’s environmentalism raises comparable considerations. In an tackle to the United Nations Basic Meeting, Petro egregiously known as on the U.S. and others to help a “debt-for-nature” swap exchanging Colombia’s practically $200 billion in international debt for “local weather motion.” He additionally declared that oil and carbon had been extra harmful than cocaine.
However the rhetoric has coverage implications. Just like the Biden administration’s vitality hypocrisy, Petro plans to halt home oil and pure fuel exploration, unconventional drilling, and floor mining, sectors that earn Colombia
All of this possible will increase Maduro’s oil exports and spike drilling and mining operations within the arms of illicit transnational actors, which already exceeds 158,000 acres.
Petro’s (and Biden’s) radical environmental agenda additionally may warrant calls to undermine the profitable U.S.-Colombia Commerce Promotion Settlement, signed in 2006.
Third, Petro promised to double down on the Latin American Left’s perennial dream of regional integration (by the use of Caracas and Havana). This isn’t an ode to free commerce however to suprastate forms designed to “stability” the political scale towards the U.S.
Fourth, on the middle of Petro’s international coverage are his efforts to supply a “peace deal” to Colombia’s two main companions of Mexican drug cartels. They’re the Marxist guerrilla Nationwide Liberation Military, or ELN, and Gulf Clan, one of many largest distributors of cocaine on the planet and a key operator of organized, unlawful migration into the USA.
These efforts are an offshoot of a beforehand flawed cope with FARC terrorists, which resulted in de facto amnesty and institution of 10 everlasting seats in Colombia’s Congress. It additionally resulted in file harvesting for cocaine. Ought to the ELN and Gulf Clan be supplied an identical deal, Colombia’s legislature may turn out to be completely captured by the legal Left.
Petro’s peace additionally contains concentrating on Colombia’s U.S.-trained nationwide police and navy, assigning them “social service” features and purging senior officers.
Since 2000, the USA has offered Colombia with over $12 billion in bilateral help. Up to now, the Biden administration has chosen to deal with discovering “frequent floor” with Petro’s peace and local weather agenda.
The query for America’s subsequent Congress is whether or not continued help to Colombia would fight the illicit drug commerce and transnational illicit actors or doubtlessly allow them.
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