Colombia - U.S. Relations
In 1822, the United States became one of the first countries to recognize the new republic and to establish a resident diplomatic mission. The U.S. Government estimates that there are 61,000 U.S. citizens living in Colombia and 15,000-40,000 U.S. citizens visiting Colombia in any given month. Currently, there are approximately 250 American businesses conducting operations in Colombia.
During 1995-96, the United States and Colombia signed important agreements on environmental protection and civil aviation. The two countries have also signed agreements on asset sharing and chemical control. In 1997, the United States and Colombia signed an important maritime ship-boarding agreement to allow for search of suspected drug-running vessels. In September 2008, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding on renewable and clean energy.
During the Pastrana administration, relations with the United States improved significantly. The United States responded to the Colombian Government's request for international support for Plan Colombia by providing substantial assistance designed to increase Colombia's counternarcotics capabilities, to expand and consolidate government presence, and to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable Colombians by providing sustainable social and economic opportunities, protecting human rights, strengthening rule of law, and making governance more transparent, participatory and accountable.
Since 2007, nearly $570 million have been invested only in socio-economic and humanitarian assistance to Colombia. On November 17, 2009, Ambassador William R. Brownfield and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaime Bermudez signed a new multi-year Country Assistance Agreement with the Government of Colombia, with first-year funding of nearly $212 million. The agreement brings continuity to the socio-economic and humanitarian assistance that the U.S. Government implements in the country.
The U.S. has continued close cooperation with Colombia under the Uribe Administration. Recognizing that terrorism and the illicit narcotics trade in Colombia are inextricably linked, the U.S. Congress granted new expanded statutory authorities in 2002 making U.S. assistance to Colombia more flexible in order to better support President Uribe's unified campaign against narcotics and terrorism.
The results thus far have been impressive, but much remains to be done. U.S. policy toward Colombia supports the Colombian Government's efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions, promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, foster socio-economic development, address immediate humanitarian needs, and end the threats to democracy posed by narcotics trafficking and terrorism. Promoting security, stability, and prosperity in Colombia will continue as long-term American interests in the region.