Media Center

Press Release


  March 21, 2007

The Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fernando Araújo Perdomo, stressed the “unlimited support” that the Organization of American States (OAS) gives his country on “complex and sensitive” issues such as achieving peace, improving security and strengthening democracy. He spoke today at a special meeting of the OAS Permanent Council convened in his honor.

“The government of President Alvaro Uribe has found in the OAS an ally in its efforts to overcome the challenges facing the nation,” the Colombian official said, adding that this support shows the Organization’s interest in promoting regional strategies aimed at strengthening democratic institutions.

Araújo, who was rescued by the Colombian army on December 31 after almost six years of being held hostage by the guerilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), noted his country’s commitment to help create conditions for political negotiations with illegally armed groups and stressed that those steps are intended “to lead toward the final objective of achieving peace.” Araújo thanked OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and the head of the OAS Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia, Sergio Caramagna, for supporting the process of demobilizing thousands of illegal combatants and for verifying his government’s initiatives toward a lasting peace.

The Secretary General welcomed Foreign Minister Araújo, describing him as an important symbol of the region’s struggle for peace and underscoring his determination to resolve conflicts and problems in a democratic manner that respects the freedom of all citizens. “We recognize in you an exemplary public servant, and your presence here honors and strengthens us. We wish you the utmost success in your visit to Washington,” Insulza said.

“We know that relations between Colombia and the United States are very important,” Insulza continued, “and that your visit responds to the vital need to strengthen those ties, especially with regards to the Free Trade Agreement both countries have signed.” He reiterated that the OAS supports the Colombian government in its effort to seek peace and to “turn Colombia into a zone that is free from the plague of terrorism and drug trafficking.”

The Foreign Minister referred to security problems as common scourges in the hemisphere, noting that terrorism, illicit drugs, crime and corruption know no borders. He stressed that shared responsibility is the fundamental principle on which to tackle such issues and work together to face common threats.

“Colombia’s fight against the global drug problem will not cease. My country assumes its share of responsibility on this problem and hopes that the international community does its part,” Araújo said. In that regard, he said, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) “has played a key role in intensifying national efforts and has served as a framework for strengthening regional cooperation in the fight against this scourge and its related crimes.”

In concluding his remarks at the Permanent Council meeting—chaired by Ambassador Nevis Izben Williams of Saint Kitts and Nevis—Araújo shared with the OAS member state delegations some of his experiences during the time he spent as a hostage and how he came to understand firsthand the serious social and human drama that his country has faced for several decades. “Colombia is a country of heroic men and women and of victims who continue struggling to overcome adversity,” the Foreign Minister said.

Reference: E-084/07