Marco Rubio, a Republican senator for the United States' southeastern state of Florida on Monday proposed that his country's government should increase aid and some military cooperation with Colombia in order to halt a slide into regional instability triggered by weak governments, drug cartels and what he described as terrorist insurgencies.
Rubio, in an exclusive article supplied to EFE, said that the US had already helped increase the stability and prosperity of Colombia through strong support and foreign assistance programs, and that the time had come to extend this further.
"Increased cooperation is essential given the challenges to regional security and stability," Rubio said.
He said some of the regional challenges that the US should address in partnership with President Iván Duque Márquez of Colombia were obvious.
"In Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro and his cronies are driving a once thriving country to the point of total collapse," Rubio said.
He went on to add that in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega and his wife were turning their government into what he described as a military dictatorship. "And in Bolivia, Evo Morales is crushing dissent aided by the Cuban regime," he added.
Rubio, a Cuban American born in Miami, Florida, finished third in the US presidential election primaries in 2016, falling short of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, who went on to win.
The former candidate said that anti-American activities in the region were of great concern to the US given the intervention of adversaries like Russia and China was, according to him, intensifying.
The best way for the US to tackle this situation and improve it was to expand security commitments to and cooperation with Colombia, Rubio said.
The means to do this was to help Colombia gather and assess the evidence that could then be presented to the United Nations to show how Maduro's Venezuelan government was harboring terrorist organizations and drug trafficking networks.
He said that the State Department’s annual report on terrorism had linked Maduro's regime to US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). “Individuals linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) were present in Venezuela, as well as Hezbollah supporters and sympathizers,” the report said, according to Rubio.
Part of the aid, aimed at bolstering Colombia's defensive capabilities in case of conflict, should help provide assistance to strengthen the capabilities of the Colombian military and national police, including anti-airborne drone technology, decryption training, and better communications equipment and training, Rubio said.