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President-elect Ivan Duque delivers a speech after his victory, in Bogota, Colombia, on June 17, 2018. Photo: Sergio Felipe Garcia Hernandez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

On August 7, Colombia will swear in Ivan Duque, of the Democratic Center Party, to a four-year presidential term. At 42, Duque is Colombia's youngest-ever president, having served as a senator only since 2014. Much of his rapid political rise owes to his alliance with former President Alvaro Uribe, a mentor to Duque who is widely seen in Colombia as a key political powerbroker.

Why it matters: With a population of nearly 50 million, Colombia is South America’s second-most populous nation and third-largest economy, and has been a key U.S. partner in dealing with regional issues. As he takes office, Duque will face pressure to address challenges with the economy, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) peace accord and drug trafficking.

Duque will replace outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos, who struck a historic peace accord with the FARC guerrilla group in 2016, ending 52 years of civil conflict that killed 220,000 and displaced 4 million. Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts and successfully shepherded Colombia into the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but he leaves office with low approval ratings and his legacy of peace at risk.

The success of Duque’s presidency will ultimately be judged by three factors:

  1. The economy: Colombians are anxious for stronger economic growth and job creation, with GDP growth languishing around 2% for the past several years.
  2. The peace accord: Duque will need to navigate its contentious politics, including whether to revisit the transitional justice process that allowed FARC combatants to go without jail time.
  3. Drugs: Duque will need to reduce Colombia’s growing levels of cocaine production, lest the Trump administration follow through on its threats to designate Colombia as having “failed demonstrably” to combat the drug trade.

The bottom line: Nearly twenty years after launching the military and foreign-aid initiative "Plan Colombia," Washington still widely regards the U.S.–Colombia partnership as a bipartisan success story. In order to sustain this support, Duque will need to reconcile Washington's harder line on counternarcotics with concerns that progress not come at the expense of civil liberties and human rights.

Daniel P. Erikson is managing director at Blue Star Strategies and a senior fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.

Del Rio bridge camp empty following Haitian migrant surge

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The last migrants camping under the Del Rio International Bridge, which connects Texas and Mexico, departed on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during a White House press briefing.

Driving the news: Thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, had arrived to the makeshift camp after crossing the southern border seeking asylum. Roughly 1,800 migrants will now head to U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing centers.

White House says it expects federal contractors to be vaccinated by Dec. 8

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House said in new guidance Friday that it expects millions of federal contractors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus no later than Dec. 8.

Why it matters: Companies with federal contractors have been waiting for formal guidance from the White House before requiring those employees to get vaccinated, according to Reuters.

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