February 24,2011

Press Contact:

Contact:  Scott Mulhauser/Erin Shields 

Baucus Lauds Colombia’s Efforts to Reduce Violence, Reintegrate Former Combatants into Society

Finance Chair Meets With Representatives from Bogota’s Reintegration Center for Demobilized Persons

Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) met with leaders from one of Colombia’s Reintegration Centers for Demobilized Persons today, including Alejandro Eder, the top Colombian official running Colombia’s efforts to reintegrate former combatants into society.  Baucus also met with several reintegrated ex-combatants to learn about the program and their experiences. 

“Colombia’s groundbreaking demobilization efforts have significantly reduced violence throughout the country,” Baucus said.  “By restoring greater peace and security, Colombia is reviving its economy, helping it become one of the most dynamic in the hemisphere and tripling its international trade.  Renewal of the Andean Trade Preference Act and approval of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will help provide new resources and opportunities to give former combatants alternatives to violence and help Colombia’s effort to increase peace and stability.”

Since 2002, 45,000 ex-combatants have demobilized in Colombia, homicides have decreased more than 50 percent, kidnappings have declined by 93 percent, and terrorist attacks have fallen by 70 percent.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has supported Colombia’s reintegration program since 2003.  The Bogota Reintegration Service Center Elder runs is part of a country-wide network of 29 reintegration centers that provide ex-combatants and their families with access to healthcare services, formal education, vocational training, income generation opportunities, and counseling services.