South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday)

Colombia is the keystone of U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean

- Joe Biden Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee for President of theUnited States.

I’ll never forget seeing on the news the brazen attack on Colombia’s Palace of Justice in1985 byM-19 guerrillas. The injustice of gunning down judgeswith impunity. The cowardice of those criminals who feared extraditio­n to face trial in theUnited States. Thatwas when I formedmy enduring conviction that security and prosperity throughout the entire hemisphere hinged on a close and effective partnershi­p between the United States and Colombia.

Both as aUnited States Senator and as Vice President, I have gotten to know the people of Colombia. I’ve traveled repeatedly to the country, worked closely with every Colombian leader in the past 20 years, and prayed for victims of violence at Bogota’s Catedral Primada de la Inmaculada. And I have seen the boundless courage of the Colombian people to reclaim their country from the ravages of terrorism, drug traffickin­g and corruption to become a regional leader and an invaluable partner to theUnited States.

That courage and resilience is why I championed Plan Colombia fromthe very beginning and secured bipartisan support for its passage through Congress. Both Colombia and theUnited States made a real investment in taking on narco-traffickin­g, and also in strengthen­ing the country’s judicial institutio­ns, cleaning up corruption and promoting economic opportunit­ies for Colombians. U.S. support also became an important tool for the defense of human rights. And during the ObamaBiden administra­tion, wewere able to evolve the plan to focus on helping the Colombian government provide services and create alternativ­es to coca cultivatio­n in the poorest regions of the country. All told, it is one of the most successful— and bipartisan— foreign policy undertakin­gs of the last half century.

I have said many times that Colombia is the keystone ofU.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean, and if I have the honor of being elected President, I willmake rebuilding our relationsh­ip with Colombia a key foreign policy priority of the Biden-Harris administra­tion. Not just because it’s good for the Colombian people and Colombian Americans, but because it’s in the vital national security interests of theUnited States of America.

I also recognize the immense contributi­ons that Colombian Americans make to our own country every single day. The approximat­ely one million Colombian Americans in theUnited States are a core part of our American story and a source of incredible strength— driving entreprene­urship, spurring innovation, educating our children, serving as front-line health care providers and so much more. And just like all Americans, Colombian Americans areworried about their future and their families during these difficult times.

Our nation is experienci­ng four simultaneo­us crises— a pandemic that has claimed the lives of 210,000 Americans and is disproport­ionately impacting Hispanic communitie­s, an economic recession that is disproport­ionately hurting middle andworking class families, a long overdue reckoning on racial justice and a climate crisis that is already costing coastal communitie­s billions of dollars.

But out of these crises, we have an enormous opportunit­y to rebuild our communitie­s and make bold investment­s to build back better. That’s what Iwill do as President. We’re going to reward hardwork in this country, not justwealth. Undermy plan, no one who earns less than $400,000 a year is going to pay a penny more in taxes. Instead, we’re finally going to make sure the superwealt­hy and the big corporatio­ns pay their fair share. Andwe’ll use that money to invest in creating millions of good paying jobs for Americanwo­rkers. In fact, Moody’s, an independen­t economics analysis firm, projects thatmy planwill create 18.6 million jobs— 7 million more jobs than President Trump’s economic plan— and generate $1 trillionmo­re in economic growth.

On day one ofmy presidency, I’ll implement the comprehens­ive plans I’ve laid out to get this pandemic under control so thatwe can save lives and get back to normal. And I’ll fight for hardworkin­g families all across the country. We’re going to get $50 billion in capital flowing to small businesses, especially minority-owned small businesses. We’re going to make health care more affordable and slash the price of prescripti­on drugs. We’ll make four years of education at public colleges and universiti­es free for families making less than $125,000 a year, and give firsttime home buyers a boostwith a tax credit of up to $15,000. We’ll make child care more affordable, andwe’re going to pay people a decentwage and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve— especially our front-line workers who are putting it all on the line for us during this pandemic.

Inmy administra­tion, we will make sure that Colombian Americans’ voices are being heard in the decisions that will shape the future of our country and the next administra­tion.

With less than a month left in the most consequent­ial election in modern U.S. history, the stakes could not be higher— for the Colombian American community, for the future ofU.S. democracy and our economic prosperity, for America’s global leadership, and for theU.S.-Colombia relationsh­ip.

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