In recent months, the Biden Administration has sustained and deepened the U.S. relationship with its most important ally in the Hemisphere, the Republic of Colombia. Just last month, Secretary Blinken chose Colombia as his first trip to South America as Secretary of State. To further the conversation on this issue, the McCain Institute seeks to convene experts to discuss related to the United States’ hemispheric security partnerships and how they address some of the most pressing challenges of our time – a rising China, increasing international authoritarianism, the global plague of disinformation, etc.
This event was the fourth of a new public conversation series between Dr. Mark T. Esper, the John McCain Distinguished Fellow and former U.S. Secretary of Defense, and experts on various issues related to challenges and threats to U.S. national security.
Dr. Mark T. Esper became the 27th Secretary of Defense in July 2019 when he was confirmed 90-8 by the U.S. Senate. As Defense Secretary, Esper was responsible for ensuring the United States’ national security, protecting the American people at home and abroad, and advancing the country’s interests globally. In this capacity, he led one of the largest, most complex organizations in the world given its nearly 3 million service members and defense civilians, $740 billion annual budget, and trillions of dollars of weapons, equipment, and infrastructure located at 4,800 sites in over 160 countries. Esper’s broad scope of responsibilities ranged from organizing, manning, training and equipping the joint force, to the research and development of future weapons, concepts, and equipment; and from defense trade, diplomacy, and cybersecurity, to healthcare, hospitals, housing, and schools. During his tenure, Esper developed key relationships with senior officials throughout the Executive Branch, Members of Congress, major business and philanthropic leaders, and a wide range of international partners. Read his full bio here.
President Iván Duque Márquez is the current President of the Republic of Colombia. He was elected on June 17, 2018, for the 2018-2022 constitutional term with 10,339,689 votes and a government program based on Legality, Entrepreneurship, and Equality. In 2016 the Semana Magazine and the Fundación Colombia Líder (“Colombia Leader Foundation”) elected him as one of the most outstanding leaders of the country and during his three years as congressman he was elected best Senator by his peers and by several local organizations that spotlight and measure the work of Colombian legislators. From 2001-2013, he was Head of the Culture, Creativity, and Solidarity Division at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where he worked on social innovation, entrepreneurship, youth, and creative economies. Born in Bogotá on August 1st, 1976, he received his Lawyer Degree from the Universidad Sergio Arboleda, where he majored in philosophy and humanities. He is an expert in economic affairs, with executive studies in Harvard, a master’s in Public Policy and Public Management from Georgetown University, and a master’s degree in Economic Law from the American University. The President is married to Ms. María Juliana Ruiz, and is the father of three children: Luciana, Matías, and Eloísa. Read his full bio in English here.