United States secretary of defense Robert Gates and Colombia minister of defense Juan Manuel Santos write in The New York Times today:
The dramatic rescue of 15 hostages this month by Colombia’s special forces underscored how far Colombia has progressed — with the strong support of the United States — from a nation under siege by narcoterrorists and paramilitary vigilantes to one poised to become a linchpin of security and prosperity in South America.
[T]o achieve lasting peace and stability, Colombia must have more foreign investment and free trade. Congress’s approval of the trade promotion agreement would establish a commitment to open markets that would increase growth and investment. Moreover, it would allow American products to enter Colombia duty-free.
Colombia’s hard-won freedom from violence can be sustained only through economic prosperity. Together, as partners, we must see Colombia’s transformation to completion. In winning the war, we must also consolidate the peace.