Vice President Biden's Trip to Colombia

Latin America and the Caribbean

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is on a six-day trip to Colombia, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago. His trip comes just a few weeks after President Obama's trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, and just a few days after the Pacific Alliance economic bloc convened in Colombia.

During remarks in a press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Biden applauded Colombia's security improvements, pleased that trade and economic issues are now front and center in the relationship. He praised Colombia for "reclaiming your nation from civil war," noting that it is a "remarkable milestone that today when we meet the main topic is not security, it is economic prosperity."

Vice President Biden said the United States is willing to join the Pacific Alliance as an observer country. President Santos indicated that Colombia "will certainly support that request" and submit it to the other member nations.

At the same press conference, Biden put more weight behind U.S. support for the peace talks. "Just as we support Colombia's leaders on the battlefield, we support them fully at the negotiating table" he said. "We understand that some real progress appears to have been made yesterday on the agrarian front. We applaud every advance -- every advance -- that gets Colombians closer to the peace they so richly deserve.

Despite the overall positive tone of the meeting, Biden did voice concern over possible impunity for human rights abuses as a result of a law that allows certain crimes by security forces to be tried in military courts. According to the Associated Press, "Biden did note Washington's insistence that human rights violators be tried in Colombia's civilian courts."

On Sunday, the FARC and the Colombian government announced a preliminary agreement on the first of five agenda items in the talks: land tenure and rural development. Ginny Bouvier a senior program officer for Latin America in the Center of Innovation at the U.S. Institute of has a summary of some of the key points of their statement on the agreement and Adam Isacson has the entire English translation.

Today Vice President Biden was in Trinidad and Tobago and tonight he will be traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before heading to Brasilia late Thursday.