Bogotá, Colombia – The last time Vice President Joe Biden visited Colombia was over a decade ago, when the South American nation was still struggling to control a violent security situation that pitted left-wing guerrillas against right-wing paramilitary groups and wealthy drug traffickers against the central government.
Speaking in the country's capital on Monday, Biden noted how things have changed in the country and said that he's pleased security concerns can now take a back seat to trade and economic issues in talks with Washington's longtime ally.
Biden praised President Juan Manuel Santos for helping lead Latin America toward a "middle class, democratic and secure" future.
He reiterated U.S. support for Santos' efforts to make peace with FARC rebels, noting apparent progress in Havana with a land reform agreement in talks on ending a half-century-old conflict.
Biden did note Washington's insistence that human rights violators be tried in Colombia's civilian courts. U.S. officials have expressed concern over a new law that could shift cases to the military justice system.
Later, the vice president flew to Trinidad and Tobago for the second stop on his three-nation trip.
A calypso band and an honor guard greeted Biden and his wife, Jill, when they landed in the Trinidadian capital of Port-of-Spain. He left in a motorcade without speaking to reporters.
Biden scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to discuss regional security, energy and economic integration with Caribbean officials and leaders, including Haitian President Michel Martelly.
He will then go to Brazil to conclude the six-day trip.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.