Colombia is an important ally of the United States. As both countries work to promote security and economic prosperity throughout the Western Hemisphere, Colombia also continues to suffer the effects of one of the longest running conflicts in the world. Violence has lasted half a century and left hundreds of thousands of Colombians dead and millions more displaced.
The United States has long supported the Government of Colombia’s efforts to reach a negotiated peace. To that end, when President Juan Manuel Santos requested U.S. participation in the peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry selected Bernie Aronson as the United States Special Envoy for the Colombian Peace Process. Secretary Kerry said the United States "has a responsibility to do what it can in order to help Colombia to achieve that peace."
Special Envoy Aronson comes well-qualified for the job. He is a former Assistant Secretary of State with extensive experience in Latin America, and in facilitating negotiations to end long-running civil wars, as he did in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Speaking at his swearing-in ceremony, Mr. Aronson said, "The Colombian people are ready for peace, and President Santos has shown great courage and political will in moving the peace process forward." "The parties have made substantial progress, but the hard, knotty issues have been left to the end as they usually are. Now it is time for the [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] and the [National Liberation Army] to demonstrate their courage by renouncing violence forever so Colombians can heal the wounds of war and live in peace with justice under the law."
The United States joins the Government of Colombia in its hope that 2015 can bring Colombia closer to the security, prosperity and peace that it deserves.