Episode 12: Venezuela and Colombia: Tough Realities and Continuing Challenges for U.S. Diplomacy

Guest: Ambassador John Maisto

Ambassador Maisto explored the very distinct challenges facing both Venezuela and Colombia. Economic struggles and political discontent plague Venezuela and Colombia is nearing the end of a 52-year war between the Colombian state and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). As the fragile FARC peace deal rests in the hands of Colombian citizens and tensions against Maduro’s government increase, Maisto discussed the difficult road ahead for the two South American countries. Ambassador John F. Maisto is a 33-year former career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, who served as Ambassador to Venezuela (1997-2000), Nicaragua (1993-1996), and the Organization of American States (2003-2006). 

A post script from Ambassador Maisto:

Following the very close, and unexpected, no vote against the Peace Plan that President Santos negotiated with the FARC, the Colombians have moved quickly to keep the peace momentum going.  The rejection was based on opposition to a too-forgiving, negotiated transnational justice system for the FARC, and an open door for FARC members in elective politics  All sides, government, opposition and FARC have said they want to go back to negotiation.  The government and the opposition are meeting, and resumption of government contact with the FARC, in Havana, has begun. All sides have said that they do not want to see a resumption of fighting.
Foreign supporters, including the U.S., have weighed in to advocate for the renewed negotiation process.  The Colombian players all know that significant foreign assistance will be necessary to ensure success of a peace process.
Finally, the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to President Santos helps the atmosphere in Colombia to achieve a new agreement.  The way forward, of course,
will be hard.  How long it will take is an open question.  However, the reactions of the Colombians to the vote and the approaches that are under way point to the strength and the resilience of the Colombian democratic system.


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