Peruvian President-Elect Ollanta Humala will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and likely President Barack Obama—depending on Obama's schedule—in Washington DC on Wednesday. The trip marks the first top-level contact between the United States and the president-elect, who will take power on July 28. The meetings will touch on Peru’s recent economic growth, the free-trade agreement with the U.S.—which Humala has publicly opposed—as well as joint efforts to combat drug trafficking.
The visit marks an important step in continuing the strong relationship between the U.S. and Peru. As South America’s sixth-largest economy, Peru is currently leading the region’s economic boom with a projected 6.6 percent growth this year. A former army officer, Humala moderated many of his positions during the presidential campaign and has said that he’ll support sensible investments in the country’s natural resources, but “with respect for the rights and freedoms of the indigenous population and local community.”
Prior to his U.S. trip, Humala completed a tour of South America where he met with the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay. The president-elect had also scheduled a visit to Venezuela which has been delayed to President Hugo Chávez’ current health conditions. Before arriving in Washington DC, he and his wife, Nadine Heredia, will first pass through Miami.
President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia comes back to Washington today—his 13th time here since being elected in 2002—to meet with President Obama following their face-to-face meeting at the April Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. It’s an opportunity to set an agenda looking ahead across the broad range of issues confronting both nations. The pending trade agreement will be discussed, but with Uribe already planning a return trip to Washington in September specifically to lobby, the agenda for the meeting today will be broader, including, no doubt, a joint statement on Honduras.
That’s important, because Colombia has been willfully misrepresented by trade opponents and their allies in Washington as a human rights wasteland. On top of that, for the past several years U.S. policy has been characterized as one dimensional and as supporting a president who his opponents claim is a quasi-autocrat with caudillo, or strong-armed, tendencies, and who, for good measure, was too close to an unpopular U.S. president. The meeting today, together with their discussions in April, will show again that the Colombian president is a serious, thoughtful leader. It will also emphasize that the bilateral agenda with Colombia goes well beyond passage of one agreement, as important as that is, and that the U.S.-Colombia relationship is strong and enduring.