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Former Colombian Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón Discusses State of Democracy in the Western Hemisphere

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an event for the McCain Institute at Arizona State University, former Colombian Ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzón joined Executive Director of the McCain Institute Evelyn N. Farkas for a discussion on democracy in the Western Hemisphere. The conversation centered around current and future democratic trends, and how front-line democracies can fend off foreign and domestic authoritarian attacks on their political systems. Topics included the impact of Senator McCain, Ukraine, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and safeguarding security in the Western Hemisphere.

Five Key Takeaways from the State of Democracy in the Western Hemisphere: Former Colombian Ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzón*

  1. The war in Ukraine directly impacted the Western Hemisphere, from food security to meddling in democratic elections.
    • “Something that is very worrisome is the effect on fertilizers. Fertilizers were very much produced in that part of the world – in Ukraine, and Russia as well. The scarcity of that is causing a challenge on food security. That is something we tend not to believe is a problem but suddenly has become a risk.”


  1. Colombia needs a strong relationship with the U.S. and other countries around the world in order to thrive and strengthen their economy.
    • “My country needs to have a strong relationship with the United States, with the Western Hemisphere in general, with Europe itself – any country in the world, even China. We need to sell products, we need to advance our economies, we need to do things for the benefit of the people that are in need in Colombia. There is poverty, there is inequality, but the solutions to those problems are precisely to thrive: To move forward the economy, to create better opportunities. Not to destabilize the system or to shut down parts of the economy.”


  1. Latin America must address impunity to deter corrupt behavior and reestablish rule of law.
    • “Most Latin Americans think all politicians are corrupt … a very big chunk of Latin Americans think that democracy isn’t valuable anymore. And that’s really terrible, because that is creating the opportunity and space for those that out of populism, that out of selling small headlines … are trying to push and benefit from that sentiment. What matters to them is power, not better societies who are solving problems. That competition is very difficult, so we need to watch that and expose that because it is happening from the extremes.”


  1. Increasing productivity through human capital will raise Latin America to a level of competitiveness.
    • “That productivity, out of human capital, physical capital and technological capital, will allow the region to … take advantage of what is going on in Asia, and what we see in Europe.”


  1. We must protect the Western Hemisphere from the strategic power competition.
    • “On strategic global power competition . . . on one side [they] want to make [the world] more unstable – that’s the case of Russia . . . they want to see regimes that are more difficult, regimes that are against democracy . . . We need to insulate the region . . . from those kinds of attacks. The other side is the long-term China [push] in the region for . . . natural resources . . . consumers, and . . . power. These kinds of problems need to be confronted by effective policies that enhance the quality of life and opportunities for Latin Americans. And the partnership with the U.S., not only at the leadership level but at the citizens level, [so] that they [citizens] feel like that’s where opportunity is [and not with China or Russia].”

Click HERE to view the full event.

About the McCain Institute at Arizona State University
Inspired by Senator John McCain and his family’s legacy, the McCain Institute at Arizona State University is non-partisan and fights to secure democracy and alliances, defend human rights, protect the vulnerable and advance character-driven leadership in all communities around the world.

About Arizona State University
Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American research university, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

Publish Date
February 8, 2023