Before Americas Summit, US Points to Colombia as Security Success

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As the Sixth Summit of the Americas approaches, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made statements extolling Colombia’s security gains, suggesting they are seeking to promote that country’s US-backed security model.

In remarks at a White House conference, Clinton said Colombia exemplified the progress made by the region as a whole, and that it was “leading on citizen security globally.”

Clinton credited Colombia for its security gains, but also mentioned the “steadfast support” of the United States. 

Echoing these sentiments, Obama told El Tiempo in an interview published Friday that Colombia had made “immense advances in security … Its success is also having an impact that goes beyond its borders, as Colombia shares its security experience with allies in the region and other parts of the world.”

Obama also pointed to the role of the US as a key partner in Colombia’s security advances, noting that the US had given $8 billion through Plan Colombia since its inception in 1999.

InSight Crime Analysis

Obama and Clinton’s comments are a sign that, in the lead-up to the Summit of the Americas which opens in the Colombian city of Cartagena on Saturday, the administration is seeking to promote Colombia’s US-backed security model.

Both made reference to Colombia’s role as a model for other countries in the region. Clinton’s comment that Colombia was a global leader in citizen security was translated by one Colombian outlet as an assertion that Colombia was a security-exporting country. Obama, meanwhile, referred more directly to Colombia’s provision of security training and advice to foreign governments.

What’s more, given that Colombia’s justice minister recently hinted at a coming change in the country’s extradition policy, which has sent more than 300 suspected criminals to the US since the beginning of President Juan Manuel Santos’ term, the Obama administration may be seeking to remind Colombia who its friends are.

Though Obama and Clinton speak of Colombia as a success story, challenges remain. The country is still in the grip of a simmering civil conflict. Drug trafficking remains rampant as narco-paramilitary groups expand throughout the country. Colombia has made progress, but a long struggle remains before it can be celebrated as a success story.

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