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Senators Menendez, Kaine Unveil U.S.-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act

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 unveiled the United States-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act of 2022, a new legislative initiative that lays out a comprehensive agenda for U.S.-Colombia relations focused on expanding engagement on issues of inclusive economic growth, anti-corruption, international security, environmental protection, and refugees and migration. Unveiled in advance of President Joe Biden’s meeting tomorrow with Colombian President Iván Duque, the new legislation 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.  

Importantly, the new legislation seeks to formally designate Colombia as a Major Non-NATO Ally. Under U.S. law, 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 the U.S.’ support for efforts to advance peace and democratic governance, including the 2016 Peace Accord that ended a half-century civil war.

The legislation also seeks to increase investments in Colombian businesses through the establishment of a new Colombian-American Enterprise Fund that can help catalyze economic recovery in Colombia and promote new efforts to reduce the United States’ reliance on Chinese supply chains. The Senate Democrats’ proposal also strengthens the U.S.-Colombia partnership on international security, defense, human rights, labor rights, and facilitates new opportunities for women entrepreneurs and members of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities. The draft legislation also proposes actions to strengthen the United States’ humanitarian assistance programs in Colombia.

“Today, we mark the beginning of a new chapter in the United States’ relationship with Colombia, one that reflects the immense complexities and challenges of the modern world rather than the ghosts of the past,” Chairman Menendez said. “With the introduction of this landmark legislation, we seek to harness the wisdom of 200 years of diplomatic relations and chart a path forward that recognizes Colombia’s chief significance as our most important ally in Latin America and its growing dynamism on the world stage. I am proud to be joined by my colleagues in this ambitious and necessary effort that will serve as a launching pad toward a brighter, freer, and more prosperous hemisphere.”

“This legislation underscores the importance of Colombia as our strongest partner in the region, and will support Colombia’s efforts to implement its landmark peace accords, protect human rights, and promote rural and economic development,” said Senator Kaine, the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “Strengthening our ties through this bill will promote our mutual security and prosperity.”

Find a copy of the United States-Colombia Strategic Alliance Act of 2022 HERE. Key provisions of the legislation include:

  • Formally designates Colombia as a Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States
  • Establishes a $200 million Colombian-American Enterprise 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