Colombia and the United States are celebrating 200 years of diplomatic relations. The two countries established relations on June 19, 1822, when U.S. President James Monroe officially received Manuel de Trujillo y Torres as Colombia’s first chargé d’affaires in the United States. Since then, both countries have become strategic allies with common goals to promote democracy, security, and the fight against terrorism, among others.
“Each year, the relationship between Colombia and the United States has been extremely powerful and solid. We have increased our trade and investment relationship, we have increased our diplomatic and political relationship, but most of all, we’ve established one of the closest military relationships in the world,” said Colombia’s Ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzón, as he presented U.S. Army General Laura J. Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), with the Colombia-U.S. 200 Years of Unbreakable Relations Medal.
The July 11 ceremony held at SOUTHCOM in Miami was among the commemorative events the Colombian Embassy in Washington organized to celebrate the partner nations’ two centuries of joint work, mutual cooperation, and promotion of shared values.
“To me, this award symbolizes the unshakable bond between our two nations. Our bilateral relationship dates all the way back to June 19, 1822. Now, 200 years later, our relationship is as strong as ever,” Gen. Richardson said, as she received the medal on behalf of SOUTHCOM. “When I think of a word that describes our bilateral relationship, I think of the word family. Families respect each other. Families support each other through thick and thin. Families have each other’s back. And that’s what we strive to do for the Colombian Armed Forces and for the Colombian people.”
The 200th Anniversary Medal is a unique version that falls under Decree 305 of the Colombian government and establishes the creation of an award to recognize nationals and foreigners, civilian and military personnel, who have contributed to building and fostering the relations between Colombia and the United States.
Gen. Richardson highlighted the cooperation between both countries in terms of training; security conferences, such as the South American Defense Conference (SOUTHDEC); military exercises, such as UNITAS; progress in the professionalization of noncommissioned officers, human rights, and gender integration.
She also emphasized shared challenges in the region such as the fight against transnational criminal organizations; illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; emerging threats in space and cyberspace; climate change-related disasters; and aid to Venezuelans.
On the occasion of the commemoration, the Embassy of Colombia in Washington also organized the launch of the publications History of a Special Relationship: Colombia–United States, 200 Years (Historia de una relación especial: Colombia–Estados Unidos, 200 años); Allies: Twenty-seven bold ideas to reimagine the US-Colombia relationship, and the issuance of commemorative stamps for the 200 years of friendship between both countries.
Allies for the region
Two centuries of bilateral relations have consolidated trust and joint work between Colombia and the United States.
The most important mechanism of binational relations between both countries is known as the Colombia-United States High-Level Dialogue (HLD), which promotes the discussion of issues of mutual interest and the designation of means to strengthen them in the face of challenges and new national, regional, and global realities.
Today Colombia is the United States’ closest strategic partner in the Western Hemisphere. For example, the United States-Colombia Action Plan (USCAP) for joint regional security allowed Colombia to consolidate its position as a benchmark for international cooperation in security, by training the region’s military in the fight against drugs, terrorism, and organized crime. The designation of Colombia as a major non-NATO ally is among the latest achievements in the strengthening of the two-century-old relationship.
“We built this partnership for two centuries and be will keep building this partnership for years to come… Thank you again for this honor. Viva Colombia,” Gen. Richardson said at the conclusion of the ceremony.