Gustavo Petro Needs the United States: Eliminate the Visa and other Promises

Gustavo Petro traveled to the United States for a diplomatic tour, meeting with Joe Biden. Petro sought US support to implement various initiatives raised during his campaign, including the option to pay foreign debt with climate actions and the more focused fight against drug trafficking.

Gustavo Petro and Joe Biden

Photo: TW-petrogustavo

LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez Hernández

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Leer en español: Gustavo Petro necesita a Estados Unidos: eliminar la visa y otras promesas

On April 16th, the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, traveled to the United States, where he made a diplomatic tour for a week, the culmination of which was the meeting with his counterpart from the North American country, Joe Biden, on Thursday, April 20th.

It should be remembered that, historically, the United States has been one of Colombia's most important allies; in the case of the Petro government, this is no exception. The first president of the Colombians knew that he needed the support of Biden and the US Congress to achieve several of the proposals that placed him in the Casa de Nariño (Colombian presidential house).

Part of the agenda that was discussed, not only in the meeting with Biden but throughout the tour on North American soil, was intended to talk about issues of an economic, social, and environmental nature that Petro has put in place from the outset. his presidential agenda.

Given this, in LatinAmerican Post, we recounted those initiatives that Petro wants to implement and that do or do need the support or management of the US authorities to make them a reality.

Elimination of Visa for Tourists

Although it is not a topic that was touched on during Petro's trip to the US, it is valid to remember that in October 2022, the Colombian Government gave something to talk about after learning that its Embassy in the United States proposed to the Government of that country eliminate the tourist visa for Colombians.

According to official sources, the idea is to encourage Colombians to visit the North American country, taking into account the status of the "strategic partner" that Colombia holds. However, things are not going as fast as they would like, although, according to the Colombian ambassador Luis Gilberto Murillo, significant steps have been taken towards this objective.

According to Murillo, a technical table led by Vice Foreign Minister Francisco Coy has already been created, which comprises institutions responsible for complying with the requirements demanded by the US. In this sense, a work schedule has been defined with entities such as the Police and Colombian Migration to comply with said requirements.

Among the requirements demanded by the United States are: the issuance of electronic passports, a visitor (B) visa rejection rate of less than three percent, document security, timely notification of lost and stolen keys, border control, application of the law and maintenance of high standards against terrorism.

Pay Foreign Debt with Actions Against Climate Change

According to the Banco de la República, Colombia ended 2022 with an external debt of 184,118 million dollars (53.4% of GDP). Reducing this liability as much as possible was a highly relevant issue for the current Colombian government.

Thinking about this and about the importance of this administration of projects that help counteract the adverse effects of human activity on the environment, is that the Government raised the option of receiving "forgiveness or exchange of foreign debt for share climatic."

"If only 10% of what we pay in public debt from the national budget each year were specifically allocated to climate action, we would multiply by more than ten the international cooperation that Colombia receives today for climate action," explained the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Susana Muhamad, in December of last year.

For this idea to become a reality, Colombia knows that it needs the United States as an ally to try to convince international entities to take climate action as an option to pay that country's foreign debt. For this reason, Petro did not hesitate to comment on this proposal to Biden, who, according to what he said, would have taken it in the best way.

President Joe Biden felt identified with the proposal to change debt around the world for climate action, and for this, he will propose the International Monetary Fund (IMF) within the fight against climate change,” said Petro.

Drug Policy

Another critical point in the conversation between Petro and Biden was how both countries would approach the fight against drug trafficking. Everyone knows that the Colombian president is against past actions such as crop fumigation, indiscriminate attack, and sometimes blindly, against drug trafficking groups.

For this reason, for the Government, it is a relief that the United States welcomes a more focused fight against the "merchant" of the drug and not against the farmer who grows it. According to Petro, Biden agreed "that it is one thing to fumigate a bush and economically weak human beings, and another thing is to persecute the drug-trafficking businessman through intelligence work, his property and money, and what is done from the interdiction."

It should be remembered that the US support for the so-called Total Peace, which also envisions a submission law. This was also supported by 34 members of Congress who last year asked the United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, about the need to address drug trafficking more broadly, considering growers as victims instead of focusing solely on drug trafficking, in the eradication of hectares to evaluate the results.

You can also read: Elections in Colombia 2023: the disorder of Petrism vs the inexperience of Duquismo

Blockades in Venezuela

It is not a secret that, in diplomacy, the point that most concerns Petro is precisely the political "normalization" in Venezuela. This situation needs the US's help removing its current blockades on the South American country. It would be succeeding.

Although he did not reveal Biden's response to this proposal, he assured the issue was left in the dark. "It was not conditioned; a strategy was put on the table that is first to hold elections and then lift sanctions or that they are lifted progressively," concluded Petro.

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