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Event Summary

On Monday, AEI hosted Colombian Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón to discuss the status of the peace process in Colombia after an October 2 plebiscite in which Colombian voters narrowly rejected an accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In a discussion with AEI’s Roger F. Noriega, Ambassador Pinzón emphasized democracy’s important role in working toward a lasting peace and noted that the victory of the “no” camp presented Colombia with an opportunity to strengthen the accord to benefit all Colombians.

The ambassador noted that democratic processes driving the peace negotiations will take time, but the important conversations about how to improve the peace plan are moving forward. He also reaffirmed the mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and Colombia and was optimistic that the two countries would continue to work together to build a lasting peace in Colombia.

The Q&A session covered a range of issues, including the clearing of landmines in large swathes of the Colombian countryside, the United Nations’ continued involvement in monitoring and guaranteeing the peace process, and how the supporters and opponents of the previous plan could come together.

— Kevin Reagan

Event Description

On October 2, Colombian voters narrowly and unexpectedly rejected a peace accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) through a national plebiscite. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who was recently recognized with a Nobel Peace Prize, responded by affirming his commitment to pursuing peace. In recognizing Santos, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee hoped the award would give him “the strength to succeed in this demanding task.” The Colombian government will now have to balance the demands of “no” voters with those of the FARC, which is asking the government to honor their original agreement without changes.

Join AEI for a timely conversation with Colombian Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón about what lies ahead for Colombia, the opportunities presented by returning to negotiations, and how Colombia can secure a lasting peace with the support of the US and the international community.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.


1:45 PM

2:00 PM

Roger F. Noriega, AEI
Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombian ambassador to the United States

2:40 PM

3:00 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Kevin Reagan at [email protected], 202.828.6035.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Roger F. Noriega is a visiting fellow at AEI and the founder and managing director of Visión Américas LLC, which advises US and foreign clients on international business issues. He served as the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs (Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean) from July 2003 to October 2005 and as the US ambassador to the Organization of American States from August 2001 to July 2003. Mr. Noriega is currently vice chairman of the board of directors of the Congressional Award Foundation and a member of the advisory boards of the Canadian American Border Trade Partnership and the Americano, an online forum for Latino voters.

Juan Carlos Pinzón presented his Letters of Credence to the president of the United States on August 3, 2015. Throughout his career, he has been a leader in both the public and private sectors. Most recently, he served as minister of defense of Colombia. Under his leadership, the Armed Forces dealt severe blows to terrorist organizations — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army — and criminal bands, resulting in improved security conditions throughout the country and the lowest homicide rate in 35 years. During his tenure, the Armed Forces’ equipment and training were modernized, the welfare of the men and women in uniform and their families was improved, and a transformation plan for the next 20 years was designed. Colombia also became an exporter of security expertise, aiding more than 60 nations. Before serving as defense minister, Amb. Pinzón was chief of staff to President Juan Manuel Santos (2010–11) and vice minister of defense (2006–09). He has also held positions as senior adviser to the executive director of the World Bank, vice president of the Colombian Banking Association, assistant vice president of investment banking at Citibank, private secretary and chief of staff for the Ministry of Finance, and economist for Colombia at Citigroup. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Amb. Pinzón received an honorable mention for his outstanding academic performance while earning a bachelor of science degree in economics. He holds a master of science in economics from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, and he was awarded a scholarship to receive his master’s in public policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He also completed advanced courses in international relations and strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University and in science and technology at Harvard University.

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