The decisive June 20 triumph of Juan Manuel Santos, elected as Colombia’s next president, is a victory for democracy, a vote for policy continuity, and a reaffirmation of the importance of a strong U.S.–Colombian relationship. On many fronts—from combating the drug trade and narco-terrorism to advancing citizen security and meeting human needs—the U.S. and Colombia have achieved an unprecedented level of cooperation over the past decade. The time has come for the Obama Administration to aggressively push for immediate legislative approval of the free-trade aggreement with Colombia. It must make the case that trade union and human rights issues in Colombia will be addressed through active partnership with a shared review process rather than by denying the much-needed free-trade deal and demanding perfection on the human rights front. Protecting human rights, reducing criminal threats to security and reducing the threat of illicit drug trafficking go hand in hand and require well-coordinated, long-term strategies that link citizen security with the economic opportunities that come with trade, investment, and market access.
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