Former Colombian President Ivan Duque is urging the United States to take a more proactive role in Latin America, addressing regional foreign policy, economic concerns, and the growing influence of China and Russia in the area.
Duque, a former senator and attorney who served as Colombia’s president from 2018 to 2022, is known for his strong stance against authoritarian and socialist regimes in the region, often associated with China and Russia. He has voiced concerns that the U.S. has not been sufficiently engaged as Chinese companies secure bids for critical infrastructure projects in Latin America. Duque emphasized the need for American companies to be actively involved in these strategic projects to balance the influence of foreign competitors.
In the context of Russia, Duque distinguishes between China’s largely economic strategy and Russia’s more covert activities, including support for dictatorial regimes and espionage. He recounted expelling Russian agents conducting espionage in Colombia during his presidency and underscored the risk of Russia supporting cyberattacks originating from Latin American countries. He called for vigilance to protect the integrity of democratic systems and data security.
Duque has been a vocal critic of the Venezuelan dictatorship under Nicolas Maduro, who faces charges of drug trafficking. He acknowledged the challenges in addressing the Venezuelan crisis, which has resulted in millions fleeing the country. He urged international organizations to apply pressure for credible democratic elections with international oversight.
Turning to Ecuador, Duque commended President Guillermo Lasso’s efforts to combat drug trafficking and criminality in the face of rising violence. Duque favored confronting criminal organizations through the rule of law and order instead of making under-the-table agreements.
In the context of Argentina, Duque predicted a competitive electoral contest, with firebrand economist Javier Milei and center-right Patricia Bullrich potentially advancing to the second round, while Peronist candidate Sergio Massa may finish third. People’s discontent with inflation and unmet promises may lead to a change in leadership.
Duque also expressed concerns about the direction Colombia is heading under his successor, Gustavo Petro, particularly regarding security, drug eradication, and economic stability.
In the environmental sphere, Duque has been actively engaged in initiatives to protect the Amazon rainforest and promote an energy transition. He emphasized the role of free markets and market-driven nature-based solutions in addressing environmental challenges.
Former President Duque’s call for increased U.S. involvement in Latin America highlights the region’s evolving dynamics and the need for proactive diplomacy to secure America’s interests and maintain stability.