Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome to our witnesses.
I'll probably take a little different tack in my questioning than my predecessor.
I participated in the debate on Colombia after we formed the government in 2006. I had the opportunity to visit Colombia. I supported the agreement, along with other members of my party, when the NDP, who are now the official opposition, didn't. It was in the sincere belief that dialogue and trade are better than isolationism at any time. If countries get to the point where you have to have isolationism—there are a number of examples of that in the world today, Syria being one of the foremost that would come to mind—then you have no other choice. But Colombia was a long way away from that.
My question, Ms. Buck, will go to the institutions in Colombia itself. Colombia went through some very dark days in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. No one is debating that. No one is saying that it didn't occur. But when you look at the history moving forward, it was a gradual improvement, especially from the eighties and nineties and into the first decade of 2000. I think part of that, and we've never had the discussion, was due to the fact that their institutions were very strong. The institution of Parliament, with its flaws, was there and was very strong. The institution of an independent judiciary was there in Colombia for many years, even with its flaws in the police force, which had a long history.
I would just like to ask you how much that influenced the ability of Colombia to move forward through some very difficult times to the country it is today. You can travel from one side of Colombia to the other by car, when only a few years ago, it was unsafe.