The White House has no intention of pulling back or shifting nearly $400 million in aid to help Colombia’s peace effort despite its citizen’s rejection of a U.S.-supported deal struck by the Colombian government and rebel leaders.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday that the United States has been supportive of the Colombian government’s effort to end the longest-running civil conflict in the hemisphere for over a decade and will continue that support into this next chapter.
“Now seems like a pretty bad time to withdraw our support and abandon the Colombian government and the Colombian people, particularly when you consider that all sides remain committed to peace,” Earnest said.
The public vote against an accord that would have ended more than a half century of war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as the FARC, sent shock waves around the world and raised questions in Washington about what the United States is spending $390 million to support.
Now seems like a pretty bad time to withdraw our support and abandon the Colombian government and the Colombian people, particularly when you consider that all sides remain committed to peace. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for one, said it’s up to the Colombian people to decide what an acceptable end to the conflict should look like. The U.S. should continue to support Colombia’s efforts to eliminate narcoterrorists, he said, but the administration “should not use any of this money to support a peace deal rejected by the Colombian people.”
While the United States has pledged its support behind Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the State Department recognizes that “difficult decisions are going to have to be taken,” according to spokesman John Kirby.
I don’t think anybody in Colombia is talking about going back, starting brand new. Senior State Department official
A senior State Department official said Wednesday that FARC is facing a “new political reality” after spending four and a half years negotiating an agreement leaders thought would be ratified. They have made constructive statements about maintaining the cease fire and continuing to use words instead of weapons to reach political goals, he said, but the governments will be watching to see how the FARC’s position evolves.
“I don’t think anybody in Colombia is talking about going back, starting brand new and not taking advantage of many of the things that were negotiated that have broad national support,” the senior State Department official said.
There is national support for several agreed on initiatives, including removing landmines, releasing child soldiers and helping substitute crop for coca production, he said.
The Obama administration is sending U.S. Diplomat Bernie Aronson back to support new talks that are taking place in Cuba.
Earnest said Aronson’s role will include using the influence of the United States to facilitate the kind of agreement that can win the support of the Colombian people.
Whether there will be another public referendum though has not been discussed, the senior State Department official said.