A donation of 2.5 million Janssen vaccines to Colombia by the United States government is the first effect of the long-awaited dialogue between Presidents Joe Biden and Iván Duque, which took place this Monday by phone. The conversation, which took place five months after Biden’s inauguration, has been interpreted as the first step in rebuilding relations with the Democratic Administration. However, as the White House statement indicates, “President Biden also expressed support for the rights of peaceful protesters, stressed that law enforcement should be held to the highest standards of accountability, and condemned acts of violence. and senseless vandalism ”.
The call between the leaders comes in the midst of Bogotá’s diplomatic offensive to counter criticism for the repression of the protests, which has left half a hundred dead; It occurs three days after the attack suffered by Duque in the presidential helicopter in the city of Cúcuta and a week after the car bomb attack against a military installation that had the presence of US soldiers.
Duque thanked “the beautiful gesture” of the single-dose vaccines and announced that they will arrive in the country in the next few days. “This will allow us to reach the goal at the end of July of 25 million vaccines and reach 35 million vaccinated by the end of the year,” he said. Colombia has already exceeded 104,000 deaths from coronavirus and is going through a new wave that leaves an average of 700 daily victims each day. So the news about vaccines is a relief to get closer to the elusive goal of mass vaccination.
So far, 6 million Colombians have been vaccinated with a second dose and 17 million with one dose, corresponding to 11% and 21% of the population, respectively. Parallel to the news of the US donation, a batch of 1,100,000 vaccines was officially delivered, which was purchased by the private sector, represented by the National Association of Colombian Entrepreneurs (ANDI), to apply to its employees.
The conversation between the leaders takes place after the appointment of Juan Carlos Pinzón as the new ambassador in Washington. Pinzón, who had already been ambassador and defense minister during the government of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), replaces former vice president Francisco Santos. Among the tasks that Duque assigned him is precisely to strengthen relations and “advance security and defense issues.” The current ambassador valued the donation and the dialogue as a “great sign”. “It is a sign of confidence and strength in the strategic relationship between the peoples of Colombia and the United States,” he said through Twitter.
According to Pinzón, the dialogue also dealt with issues such as employment, climate change, human rights and what he called “real peace.” Biden, as Barack Obama’s vice president, backed the talks in Havana, which led to the peace agreement between the Santos government and the defunct FARC guerrilla. Duque and his current ambassador have been openly critical of those deals. “(The presidents) spoke of joint security cooperation, a holistic approach to combat drug trafficking,” the White House reported.
Biden often refers to Colombia as the “cornerstone” of Washington’s foreign policy in Latin America, but the undisguised support of the Democratic Center for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign had left open wounds. Iván Duque thanked his American counterpart for the solidarity of the attack he suffered and from which he was unharmed and assured that they also talked about the search for free elections in Venezuela. The conversation “reaffirms our condition as historical allies,” said the Colombian president.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.