WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’s visit to Washington for the 15th anniversary of Plan Colombia:
“Since 2000, Democrats and Republicans have worked together to help the Colombian government fight terrorism, push back on the power of drug cartels, and enhance prosperity in the country. The results have been nothing short of extraordinary. As the Colombian government nears a historic peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) where the group lays down its weapons, we must double down on our assistance and make a multi-year commitment to the country. In particular, demining must be a top foreign-assistance priority as some 11,000 Colombians have been killed or hurt by land mines over the past 25 years.
“Just as we have supported Colombia through years of war, we should support it in peace. We must not forget the lessons of the recent past where we won the war and then, through lack of funding and misplaced priorities, lost the peace.
“I have visited Colombia several times and have seen the positive impact of our foreign assistance firsthand. Colombia’s success is first and foremost a credit to the political will of the country’s citizens and leaders. But it is also a clear example of the positive impact that U.S. foreign assistance can play. I look forward to meeting with President Santos and pledging my continued commitment to the Colombian people. I urge my colleagues in Congress to join me in standing with Colombia in the years ahead.”