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Colombia’s Santos says Clinton better for peace than Trump


Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO LEGARIA

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO LEGARIA

Fresh off a historic peace deal with the FARC rebels, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos weighed in on the US presidential election, saying Hillary Clinton would be better for the peace process than Donald Trump.

The United States has been a key ally of Colombia in recent years, spending more than $10 billion on a joint anti-narcotics strategy.

Launched when Clinton’s husband Bill was president, “Plan Colombia” largely funded the military’s fight against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other armed groups involved in drug trafficking.

Santos said the Democratic nominee herself had also lent key support to the peace process when she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, including when he first agreed to hold talks with the FARC in 2012 — negotiations that ultimately yielded a final accord on August 24.

“Both Bill Clinton and Hillary have been great allies of Colombia,” Santos told AFP in an interview Monday.

Bill Clinton “is the one who initiated Plan Colombia, which was very useful in achieving what we’ve achieved. Hillary also lent tremendous support to these negotiations when she was secretary of state,” he said.

“I know them both and both are very good friends of Colombia.”

He was chillier on the subject of Clinton’s Republican rival Trump, who has won himself enemies in Latin America with inflammatory remarks on immigrants from the region, whom he wants to keep out of the United States by building a wall on the Mexican border.

“I don’t know Trump, and Trump’s policies aren’t very in sync with what Colombia wants from the United States and what Colombia has sought from the entire world: free trade, immigration policies that are suitable for every country,” he said.

“In that sense, from my perspective, Hillary offers us more guarantees.”

The Colombian peace deal will be put to a decisive referendum on October 2. If it passes, Colombia will then need financing to implement rural infrastructure projects, a transitional justice system and other aspects of the deal.

Santos said he was confident the “Yes” camp would win, officially ending a 52-year conflict with the Marxist guerrillas.

The civil war, which has also drawn in rightwing paramilitary groups, drug cartels and other armed groups, has claimed more than 220,000 lives.

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