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**PHOTO/VIDEO RELEASE** SFRC Chairman Menendez, Senator Kaine Celebrate Biden Administration’s Designation of Colombia as Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States

Designation follows the Senate Democrats’ New Legislative Effort to Reinvigorate U.S.-Colombia Relations 

 Senators Hosted Colombian President Iván Duque in U.S. Capitol This Morning

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chairman of the SFRC Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, today issued the following joint statement after President Joe Biden announced his intention to formally designate Colombia as a Major Non-NATO Ally, a major advancement for the U.S.-Colombia alliance that has been championed in Congress by Menendez and Kaine. Today’s announcement follows Colombian President Ivan Duque’s bilateral meeting with President Biden and earlier meetings with Chairman Menendez and Senator Kaine in the U.S. Capitol.

Yesterday, Senators Menendez and Kaine unveiled the United States-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act of 2022, a new legislative initiative that seeks to codify into law Colombia’s status as a Major Non-NATO Ally, and lays out a forward leaning agenda for U.S.-Colombia relations focused on expanding engagement on issues of inclusive economic growth, anti-corruption, international security, peace, environmental protection, and refugees and migration.

“This is a  major victory for those of us who understand the importance of the relationship between the United States and Colombia. In formally designating Colombia as a Major Non-NATO Ally, President Biden is making clear that the U.S. and Colombia share deeply-held interests in bolstering regional security, facilitating economic opportunity, and safeguarding fundamental human rights. After twenty years of close cooperation that brought an end to the world’s longest running civil war, and now as our most important ally in South America, Colombia continues to prove itself as a leader in the hemisphere and globally. With our countries celebrating 200 years of diplomatic relations and friendship, we cannot afford to allow our alliance to reflect anything less. We sincerely hope our Republican colleagues will join us in using this momentum to pass our U.S.-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act in short order to codify this designation in law and help write the next chapter of the revitalization of our partnership with Colombia.”

A Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status designation is a powerful symbol that provides our closest partners with additional benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation. The U.S. currently has 17 Major Non-NATO allies. The United States-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act of 2022 also reinforces U.S. support for efforts to advance peace and democratic governance, including the 2016 Peace Accord that ended a half-century civil war.

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Earlier today, Chairman Menendez and Senator Kaine both met with Colombian President Iván Duque as he began his visit to Washington D.C. The lawmakers discussed Senate Democrats’ efforts to strengthen U.S.-Colombia relations, the importance of upgrading the partnership between countries, and the need to expand cooperation to stand up against the Maduro regime and promote better international security, environmental protection, and refugees and migration policies.

Unveiled yesterday by Chairman Menendez and Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the United States-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act of 2022 follows Chairman Menendez’s recent publication of an opinion piece in the Miami Herald on the importance of reinvigorating U.S.-Colombia relations and SFRC’s full Committee hearing last month examining the future of the countries’ partnership.  

Key provisions of the Senate Democrats legislation include:

  • Formally designates Colombia as a Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States
  • Establishes a $200 million Colombian-American Enterprise Fund to support investments in Colombia’s tech sector and women-owned businesses, strengthens tech training for women and girls
  • Requires a U.S. strategy to strengthen supply chains and advance nearshoring initiatives
  • Authorizes a bilateral labor compact to strengthen labor rights and labor formalization
  • Establishes U.S. policy in support of peace, justice, and democratic governance, including timely implementation of Colombia’s 2016 peace accord
  • Establishes a U.S.-Colombia consultative committee to advance bilateral security cooperation
  • Strengthens bilateral cooperation on cyber defense and combatting cyber crimes
  • Requires new classified reporting on FARC dissidents and malign activities by foreign states
  • Expands efforts to counter corruption and protect human rights defenders
  • Strengthens initiatives to protect tropical forests and the responsible sourcing of gold
  • Prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance to purchase herbicides for aerial eradication programs
  • Establishes a global notification requirement when U.S. communications equipment is used unlawfully