Media Center



February 21, 2002 - Washington, DC

All Colombians and the entire international community have witnessed President Pastrana's commitment to peace and the significant support he has had from the other branches of government, broad sectors of the political leadership, the business world, workers and civil society organizations. There can be no doubt that the government has provided all possible guarantees to those who have taken up arms so that the path of dialogue and negotiation could put an end to the armed conflict which for so long has brought bloodshed to the country. It is deplorable that this type of approach should be answered with acts of kidnapping, terrorism and indiscriminate attacks on civil society, which have rendered no longer viable the enormous efforts of the president and people of Colombia to continue the process of dialogue and negotiation.

As President Pastrana said last night, despite the complexity of the situation, Colombia is and will continue to be a stable, solid democracy. A handful of violent people will not be able to destroy what history has built with the concurrence of the vast majority of Colombians. Colombia is not alone. All the member countries of the OAS have closed ranks to support our country, its government and its citizens in the task of defending and strengthening democracy. I am certain that the government and all elements of society will continue to seek peace, strengthening the rule of law and the judicial system, working without rest to ensure that the state presence and public services reach the most remote corners of the country, and persisting in efforts to make Colombia a more just and more egalitarian society.

The 34 OAS member countries and their peoples are undivided in their commitment to fight terrorism head-on and have agreed to cooperate on legal and judicial matters, exchange information and experiences, and zealously comply with all the global and regional conventions against this scourge. Since September 11, our Organization has been working tirelessly to strengthen the multilateral mechanisms that this struggle demands, to bring to justice the authors, organizers and supporters of terrorist acts, and when it is so warranted, to speed up the extradition of the protagonists of these acts. It is clear that within our 34 member countries terrorists will find neither refuge nor assistance nor support and that whoever provides such will be considered complicit. I am certain that Colombia today can count on broad and resolute hemispheric cooperation in its struggle against terrorism.

Today all of us Colombians should stand with the government of President Pastrana, its armed forces and other democratic institutions. Today more than ever we have to act with faith and resolve; united, we must work to build the peaceful, just and prosperous Colombia for which all of us yearn.