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Biden Pens Op-Ed For Newspaper In Colombia — With Eyes On Florida

Headline and photo of Joe Biden's op-ed in the online edition of the Colombian daily El Tiempo this week.

U.S. presidential candidates rarely if ever publish commentaries abroad — but Joe Biden may have seen a particular urgency in reaching out to Colombians.

We’re used to seeing U.S. presidential candidates publish campaign op-eds here but Joe Biden has taken the unusual step of writing one for a major Latin American newspaper.

That's because Colombia, and Colombians, have played a bigger than usual role in Florida presidential politics this year. The campaigns have woken up to the fact that there an estimated 1 million Colombians in the state now — Florida’s third largest Latino group.

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There are also growing concerns among Democrats that conservative elected officials in Colombia are interfering in the election in support of President Trump.

Either way, Democratic candidate Joe Biden this week published an op-ed in Colombia’s major daily, "El Tiempo." It’s not uncommon for U.S. presidents to pen commentaries for foreign newspapers. But a U.S. presidential candidate has rarely if ever done it. It indicates the urgency Biden sees in boosting his underperformance with Latinos in Florida so far.

Social media smear campaigns falsely calling Biden a socialist are rampant in Colombia. So he opens the op-ed recalling what he calls the “cowardice” of Colombia’s Marxist guerrillas and his role in the $5 billion U.S. aid program that helped beat them back.

Biden also lays out his plan for "reconstruction" of the U.S.-Colombian alliance — arguably Washington's most important in South America if not Latin America — and his domestic U.S. agenda for aiding Latinos.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.