America’s Longtime Friend, Colombia, Needs U.S. Help



James Roberts, Mateo Haydar, Celina B. Realuyo and Joseph M. Humire | The Heritage Foundation

Colombia is facing uncertain and troubling times. Multiple, interrelated crises—including mass social protests, serious fiscal challenges, irregular armed conflict on its border, and the COVID-19 pandemic—are destabilizing the country’s political landscape, economy, security, and society. Founded in 1810, Colombia is the second oldest democracy in Latin America, geographically well-positioned with access to the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea and blessed with ample natural resources.

With a population of approximately 50 million, Colombia has experienced previous political violence and survived almost 50 years of armed conflict with guerilla groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the revolutionary left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) that have resulted in over 260,000 deaths. Colombia’s shadow, illicit economy has been driven in large part by the lucrative cocaine trade, as well as illegal gold-mining and oil-smuggling operations that have sustained insurgent and other armed groups for decades.

This hidden and corrupting economy continues to flourish and fuel insecurity in Colombia, aided and abetted by the neighboring criminal regime of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. Nevertheless, and despite these enormous challenges, Colombia’s legitimate free-market economy is thriving and ranks relatively high in the Americas region of the annual Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom.

US-Colombia Research

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