Colombia's peace deal could hang on the US election

A man places balloons with the colors of the Colombian national flag at Bolivar Square in Bogota on Oct. 2, 2020, to mark the fourth anniversary of the referendum to ratify the peace deal between the government and FARC that was narrowly rejected by voters.

(CNN)As Colombia struggles with mounting protests, deteriorating security and the coronavirus pandemic, some local politicians are showing a burning interest in the US election result -- which could be pivotal in the battle for the future of their nation.

At the center of that struggle is the 2016 peace agreement, which ended a 52-year armed conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The peace process has foundered in the two years since current President Ivan Duque -- who campaigned on a platform to reform the deal -- came to power. Violence against social leaders has exploded in rural areas where peace was supposed to bring prosperity, 146 former FARC guerrillas have been murdered, and coca cultivation, considered a yardstick of illegal activity in the country, has boomed.
Colombian politics might not seem like the most obvious electoral issue for US voters, but it could play a vital role in deciding who is the next president. Florida, a key battleground state which President Donald Trump won by just 112,911 votes in 2016, is the reason why. There are around 250,000 Colombian-American eligible voters in the state, and Trump is battling Democratic candidate Joe Biden for their support.
    Trump has shown little interest in Latin America beyond a laser focus on using transactional foreign policy to reduce migration and support for the Venezuelan opposition, but he recently took the time to criticize the Colombian peace deal as a surrender to "narco terrorists" and praise former president Alvaro Uribe, a key opponent of the peace deal who has many supporters in Florida.
    Former President Álvaro Uribe.
    Meanwhile, Biden has made his own play for Colombian-American voters, including penning op-eds in the South Florida Sun Sentinel and El Tiempo newspapers underlining his record of support for Colombia and the peace deal. "I have said many times that Colombia is the keystone of U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean," wrote Biden. The former Vice President also evoked his key role in implementing Plan Colombia, a US aid program that funneled $10 billion into the country to counter the FARC insurgency and drug trafficking from 2000-2016.