WASHINGTON, DC: Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement on the progress of peace talks in Colombia:
I welcome yesterday’s announcement by President Santos of major breakthroughs in peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). When the Clinton Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress backed Plan Colombia in the late 1990s, there were clear goals: weaken the FARC to the point that they would sit down at the negotiating table, and close the chapter on the longest ongoing armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere. While peace has not yet arrived in Colombia, the country is closer now than ever.
Colombia is our number one ally in South America, and we must continue to stand with the Colombian people. Just as we have supported the country through years of war, we should support it in peace. When a peace agreement is reached, I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to work with me to provide Colombia with the robust foreign assistance it needs. 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. We must continue to stand with Colombia at this critical time.
As Pope Francis brings a message of dialogue and peace to our Congress, I hope we will continue to stand with the Colombian people in putting an end to a conflict that has lasted far too long and taken far too many lives.