RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – US President Joseph Biden Monday telephoned his Colombian colleague Iván Duque in what the first direct talk between the two leaders since the 78-year-old Democrat took office on January 20.
During their conversation, Biden announced the donation of 2.5 million doses of the Janssen vaccine against covid-19, making Colombia the second Latin American country to receive such a contribution from Washington, after Brazil got 3 million doses of the same drug.
“That means that 2.5 million Colombians are going to be protected against Covid and that is fantastic news for Colombia,“ Colombian Ambassador in Washington DC Francisco Santos said in a radio interview.
Analysts view Biden’s call as a sign of the importance of Colombia to his administration, which regards the country as its main ally in the region. In fact, when President Duque’s helicopter was fired a few days back, regular Colombian military units had been participating in a joint drill with US troops in the area.
The call is also believed to put an end to some distancing between the two governments since the Duque administration had expressed its preference for the losing Republican candidate and former President Donald Trump.
Biden and Duque also discussed “economic reactivation and employment, of the global agenda for climate change, of shared values in terms of democracy and human rights,” according to a Colombian press report from the office of the President.
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Venezuela was also among the topics under consideration: “President Biden expressed his concern about the situation in Venezuela and its regional impact, and stressed the importance of seeking an international consensus for free and fair elections”
Biden reportedly also praised Duque’s decision to grant temporary protection to the around 1.7 million Venezuelan migrants, who have fled from Nicolás Maduro’s seeming endless impoverishing of the country.
Duque thanked Biden for ”the solidarity expressed“ and the support to ”confront the terrorist actions”, after the attack on his helicopter last Friday in Cúcuta, near the Venezuelan border.
Last but not least, and according to the White House, Biden also “expressed his support for the rights of peaceful protesters” and stressed that law enforcement officers must be “subject to the highest standards of accountability.”