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Biden’s adviser for Latin America: “40 years ago the US would have done everything possible to avoid the election of Petro”

“Forty years ago, the United States would have done everything possible to prevent the election of Gustavo Petro and, once elected, would have done everything possible to sabotage his project. They were the politics of the Cold War.” Before more than 2,000 Colombian businessmen, this is how Juan González began his intervention, the Cartagena native who speaks in the ear of US President Joe Biden and is an adviser to the White House for the Western Hemisphere.

The admission of a reality that other countries in the region directly experienced has helped González to say that these policies “to a certain extent, for some are a justification of revisionist perspectives that characterize the policy of the United States within a context of the local manifestation of an empire”.

The US government official has assured in the Colombian Business Congress (CEC), that today that relationship is different. “Just as politics has to evolve, so does collaboration. As we recognize that this was a legitimately elected government based on change and we, given the importance of Colombia, have prepared ourselves to navigate that change and to communicate our interests in a direct and constructive way”, said González, who has indicated his willingness to work with the president and with the private sector.

The statement from Cartagena has been made before an auditorium full of industrialists who also try to “navigate” the change that the first leftist government in Colombia means. Biden’s adviser has been clear: “It doesn’t matter the ideology or where the political spectrum of a government is. If he is elected and governs democratically, we are going to advance on points of common interest. We will also communicate our concerns to them.”

González has assured that Latin America is “a strategic reserve for the United States”, because it is the region where there are more democratic countries, “it is not at war” and “whose prosperity and stability allow the United States to play a leadership role at a global level. ”.

Just four days ago, during his inaugural speech, Petro criticized the drug policy in which the United States plays an essential role. “(The war on drugs) has left a million Latin Americans murdered, during these 40 years, and what does it leave? 70,000 Americans die from overdoses every year,” said the president, stating that it was a failure because “it strengthened the mafias and weakened the States.”

The Colombian president also champions the energy transition, a point on which the United States seems to agree. Biden’s adviser said the region was one of the most “inequitable in the context of political and economic concentration”; that it is not adopting technologies at the rate it should; and that it is one of the “regions with the greatest dependence on traditional energies while the world is in the process of a global energy transition. “Colombia is the culmination of all these challenges, but the one that offers the greatest possibility of being overcome. The president (Biden) has said that it is the cornerstone of the Caribbean, because of its location,” he stated.

Just as he spoke of energy transition, he affirmed that the Petro government has invited them to participate in peace talks, although he did not specify whether it is about the implementation of the agreement already in progress with the FARC or the search for dialogues with the ELN, the last active guerrilla in Colombia. “The government has invited us to participate in the ethnic chapter of the peace agreement,” González said through a virtual broadcast. He pointed out that the United States is interested in working for the Afro and indigenous communities so that they are not “a chess piece in the armed conflict” and concluded by saying that “there is a lot of optimism” about this work with the new government.

“In fact, we also seek the opportunity to learn from the experiences of Colombians and continue proving that the best thing for us is just to cultivate a bilateral relationship, because Colombia not only has regional but also global impacts and is respected by the world” , he claimed.

Roy Barreras: “I came to give guarantees”

The vision of the United States is just one of those being heard by the more than 2,000 businessmen gathered at the Cartagena Convention Center. They do it in the week in which the Government of Gustavo Petro started and the tax reform, the bill against fracking, and there is talk of energy transition and changes in overtime work, among other measures. From that platform, which runs until Friday, they will discuss the challenges they face with the new Executive, as well as the vulnerabilities of world geopolitics.

The industrialists have announced that they will take a vigilant and constructive stance towards the policies of the Petro Government. “We will accompany the initiatives that Colombia requires, and in situations that warrant it, we will raise our constructive criticism, certain that this will lead to better decisions for the good of all,” said Carlos Ignacio Gallego, president of Grupo Nutresa and of the board of directors of Grupo Nutresa. the Andi.

Gallego has listed world challenges such as inflation, armed conflicts and the post-pandemic, and has said that this international context coincided with the new government in Colombia. “I greet the new Government. We have the challenge of building trust to work with the new government on the two-way highway, the fight against poverty but doing it with business development. Entrepreneurs will be defenders of human dignity, values ​​and principles”, he has said.

Bruce Mac Master, president of the National Association of Colombian Entrepreneurs (ANDI) has also sent a message to Petro. “We hope to be able to carry out an open and sincere dialogue with the government, thinking about the future and the well-being of all Colombians”, Mac Master highlighted at the beginning of the event, which will close this Friday with President Gustavo Petro. That would be the first time that the president is seen publicly before the business community.

For now, the advanced government came to the meeting in the voice of Roy Barreras, president of Congress and co-supporter of Petro. The senator did not give specific answers to questions about the tax reform, the issue that most mobilizes businessmen these days, but he did want to convey calm and pointed out that the transitions will be moderate and progressive. “This is not the time for improvisations.”

“Count on the fact that in Congress there will be balance and guarantees for all, conditions for intense dialogue. We have a year for the most important reforms and if they do not heed the voice of the two halves of Colombia, we will have failed. Providing guarantees for everyone is my obligation and that is what I came to say”, concluded Barreras.

Entrepreneurs eagerly await more details about the country’s economic direction this Thursday when the Minister of Finance, Jose Antonio Ocampo, will present Petro’s letter against the fear of the business community.

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