Five Takeaways from Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez’s Conversation with Secretary Mark Esper

If you missed our most recent Conversations with Secretary Esper event, we’ve got you covered. The event featured Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez discussing democracy and the current state of Latin America with former U.S. Defense Secretary and current John S. McCain Distinguished Fellow Mark Esper. Click here to view the discussion and keep reading for our five key takeaways from the event.

It has been 200 years since the start of U.S.-Colombia relations
“Well, first of all, I want to highlight that next year we will be celebrating 200 years of bilateral relationships, it was during President Monroe’s term, where our Ambassador Manuel de Trujillo y Torres not only persuaded him, but also the Secretary of State John Quincy Adams to recognize the Republic of Columbia. And actually, Colombia was the first former Spanish colony to be recognized as a republic by the United States. So, it has been 200 years where we have shared values, principles and I should say the defense of democracy, the pursuit of happiness which every citizen should have.” – President Duque

The White House’s Democracy summit is a great opportunity to discuss the crises facing Latin America
“This summit is going to be very important because we clearly see the threats that we have in Venezuela, we’re seeing the threats now in Nicaragua, and we have seen other authoritarian regimes in the region that have also been promoting activities, crises, and also trying to generate despair through the pressure of massive social media manipulation. All of these elements have to be discussed and I think we have to connect democracy with the freedom of the people to select and to choose, but also we have to defend the private sector initiative.” – President Duque

A modern-day society can only be achieved through the will of the people
“Mr. Secretary, it might sound simplistic what I am about to say, but it’s the freedom to choose. You can’t have a modern society, you can’t have a free society, if you don’t allow people to choose.” – President Duque

Colombia maintains relations with Russia, Iran and China but pushes back when they disagree
“In the case of Colombia, Colombia has diplomatic relations with different countries. Colombia has diplomatic relations with Russia, diplomatic relations with Iran and diplomatic relations with China. We have kept our friendly attitude towards those countries, but we have also been clear that where we have differences, we’re able to expose our differences with clarity and strong arguments.” – President Duque

The U.S. can regain stature in Latin America through investment and engagement
“You can see this with Chinese companies winning so many infrastructure projects and I would say this is because they’re present and they bid. We definitely want to see more American companies coming to Latin America and participating in infrastructure and technology biddings, obviously I think that is something that must happen. I also believe that the policies that President Biden has launched the B3W is very important, I also think that the idea of near shoring that came from the previous administration that is now being run under B3W is bipartisan way of saying that this is the moment for the United States to rethink that they can build with Latin America a new alliance for progress in the 21st century.” – President Duque

DISCLAIMER: McCain Institute for International Leadership is a non-partisan “do-tank” that is part of Arizona State University. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent an opinion of the McCain Institute.

Publish Date
December 9, 2021
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