Secretary Michael R. Pompeo And Colombian President Ivan Duque After Their Meeting
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
September 19, 2020
MODERATOR: (Via interpretation) Good morning, everyone. Special greetings to all the TV viewers of the national TV channel and those following us over the social media and web page of the presidency. Thank you for joining us and welcome to the House of Narino, to the joint U.S.-Colombia declaration, after President Duque Marquez met with the U.S. delegation today. We will start by hearing the President of Colombia Ivan Duque Marquez, who will greet Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of the United States.
PRESIDENT DUQUE: (Via interpretation) Good morning, everyone. It is indeed a true honor to welcome a dear friend of Colombia, Secretary of State of the United States Mr. Mike Pompeo. Secretary, thank you so much for coming back to Colombia. You have visited us on four occasions ever since I was inaugurated. We were in the city of Cartagena in early 2019, we then met in the city of Cucuta, and not long ago we met at the hemispheric summit against terrorism.
And today, you visit us at the House of Narino, the house of all Colombians. Allow me to greet the Vice President of Colombia Madam Marta Lucia Ramirez, our minister of foreign affairs, our government team. I greet Ambassador Goldberg, I also wish to greet Francis Fannon, and my special greeting to Mike Kozak – Mike – well, for joining us today.
And if I may, I would like to turn the microphone over to you, Mr. Secretary. But before that, let me convey a message before doing so, because I want once again to express our sincere condolences for the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a wonderful woman. I had the great honor of knowing her. I – when I studied law in the United States, I heard her at a lecture, and she had this special magnetism and this overwhelming ability to call things by their name. So we will always remember her as an exemplary woman in the world of justice. And during this administration, we have the goal – together with Marta Lucia Ramirez – promoted women in our country. We therefore regret her passing but we also acknowledge her legacy, and I extend my condolences. You have the floor.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, good morning, everyone, and thank you, Mr. President, for your condolences. Indeed, Justice Ginsburg led a remarkable life. She will be remembered always in the United States and indeed around the world for the work that she did.
It’s wonderful to be back with you again, a great friend of the United States of America. As you said, my fourth visit as Secretary of State, and my fourth country on this particular trip to South America. I’ve come to appreciate more and more how absolutely vital the U.S.-Colombia relationship is to the Western Hemisphere and its security and the freedom of all peoples in the region. Security, prosperity, democracy have been the core values since the beginning of both of our nations. We share a long history. As we walked around today and saw the beautiful history here inside of this building, it reminded me it’s what brings us together today. The conversations that you and I had along with our teams give me great optimism for the future of the relationship between our two countries and for the security and prosperity of the region.
I want to commend how your government has taken care of its own citizens but also the Venezuelan refugees during this difficult COVID-19 pandemic. Your public health work has saved tens of thousands of lives. You and the Colombian people should be very proud of that. Your support of Interim President Juan Guaido and a democratic transition for a sovereign Venezuela free of malign influence from Cuba, from Russia, from Iran, is incredibly valued. You are a true leader for the region and the dignity of all of its people.
We had a chance to discuss today the clear desire for the Colombian people to have a lasting and just peace here in your nation. The violence on the part of FARC dissidents, the ELN, or any other terrorist or criminal group is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated, nor can the actions of regimes like Maduro’s, which provide safe haven, aid, and indeed comfort to those terrorists. As I said in the counterterrorism ministerial at Bogota earlier this year, the United States appreciates your leadership in confronting Hizballah in our hemisphere as well. Putting maximum pressure on Iran and its proxies is essential to peace and security for free peoples everywhere.
Our two countries are also standing strongly against the poison of narcotics. Mr. President, your administration has been exemplary in this area. Colombian law enforcement, even in these difficult times, has stepped up cocaine interdiction and eradication. You manually cleared 57% more coca fields in 2019 than in the year prior, 2018. Look, we all need to do more to reach the goal to cut this coca cultivation. I know you’ll do that. The U.S. is here to help by sharing resources, expertise, and we applaud the work that you have done. Thank you for that.
We do this work together because secure democratic nations that respect the rule of law truly reflect the will of their people. They’re peaceful and prosperous neighbors. That’s how they behave; it’s how we behave. Our bilateral free trade agreement makes our economic relationship strong, too, and we’re expanding on our historic private sector investment in rural Colombia, including the U.S. Development Finance Corporation’s financing mechanisms.
I also would be remiss if I did not thank the Colombian Government for its efforts to expand women’s economic empowerment and its commitment to the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. The U.S.-Colombia Growth Initiative that announced, goodness, just over a month ago now, back in August of this year, is a powerful step, too. Our governments are working to build on the Department of State and USAID’s long-term investments in Colombia to bring even more private sector investment into rural areas. We want to make sure that there is a solution, an alternative to coca crops. I want to also today announce technical assistance on our Energy Resource Governance Initiative to improve the development of Colombia’s energy minerals sector as well.
Look, we know this, Mr. President: When there is a safe, welcoming investment climate with good government, transparent rules, and an open and fair set of relationships, American and Colombian companies together do great work. They provide real jobs with real prosperity that lasts, and I know our two countries’ private sectors will keep this up.
Mr. President, on behalf of President Trump, thank you for your friendship and for hosting my team and me. The U.S. and Colombia are powerful forces for good in the Americas. Thank you and bless you.
PRESIDENT DUQUE: Thank you. Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary.
(Via interpretation) Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for your kind remarks and for your visit, and as you have said, the relationship between Colombia and the United States is a historic relationship. It is a relationship among allies, between friends, and above all, a relationship based on common principles: the defense of democracy, combatting organized crime, the promotion of the private sector – the micro, small, medium, and large-sized enterprises – and above all, to bring closer our peoples through trade, are all instruments that define us and our relationship.
If I may, I would like to start by thanking you and thanking President Trump for the support you have provided us in our struggle against terrorism and drug trafficking. This has been a work that we have exercised in a collaborative manner and in a shared, responsible manner, and we’ve seen great strides and progress. In 2019, we achieved the highest reduction in coca-cultivated area in the last six years. We also achieve records in seizures that continue to rise, and we have also seen that within the framework of this pandemic, the heroic work of our soldiers and police throughout the territory are very revealing of the decided progress made against this scourge. But we must also acknowledge the effort made thanks to the naval campaign called Orion where, with the U.S. and 23 more countries, we have managed to engage in the largest interdiction operation against drug trafficking in the Caribbean.
I also want to underline that in this work against narcotics trafficking, our work has been comprehensive. We have brought justice and security, but we have also brought social investment. And I want to thank the role played by the USAID cooperation agency because they have stood by us in projects such as the multi-purpose cadaster, the massive issuance of title deeds for land, and reaching out to the communities hardest hit by violence and poverty in what is known as the – development planned with a territorial approach. I also want to underline the support that we continue to receive and the coordinated work to stand up against ELN structures, the FARC splinter groups, the El Clan del Golfo, the Los Pelusos, very dangerous criminal rings. And we have made important successes in this area that have to be maintained.
And I also want to underline that we have received great support from the United States of America in the “peace with legality” process. This week, we looked at our two years of administration where we have seen exponential leaps in individual and collective project, the significant increase in lands – in the land bank – the massive issuance of title deeds. And we’ve seen something else that’s very important. It is that over 880,000 – 880 works that have reached these areas hardest hit by violence, so thank you for the U.S. support in this very important front for Colombia.
Mr. Secretary, you mentioned in your remarks a topic that is very complex for the world and for the continent, and I’m talking about the situation in Venezuela. We, as a country, have applied a policy of brotherhood to receive our Venezuelan brothers and sisters, but we know that the situation in this area is unsustainable. This week, the UN organization submitted a report where it confirms, through its field visits, that Nicolas Maduro is a – responsible for crimes against mankind, as well as his inner circle – and urges that actions be adopted within the framework of the international justice system. As senator of the republic a few years ago, we denounced Nicolas Maduro before the International Criminal Court, and we have also seen that other countries have followed suit. But this week’s report must serve to validate what has already been announced by the OAS, and it is that there is a regime of violations of human rights that is systematic. And above all, the head of the dictatorship is a war criminal and the international community must act to put an end to the situation. And in that regard, you and I are like-minded and we will continue urging the international community, because that has to stop in Venezuela.
And I also want to express my deep-felt gratitude for this wonderful initiative that you have called Growth in the Americas, and within the bilateral framework, Colombia Crece, Colombia grows. And this is a new chapter in our bilateral relationship, a chapter based on free trade, investment, reaching out to those deep regions of Colombia, but also to obtain comparative competitive advantages. But what is most important is the teamwork, to the extent that the strategy that you have called “nearshoring” advances, where the U.S. is going to bring to the Americas a greater industrial production potential scattered throughout the world. That in itself is a unique opportunity for the region, unique for our recovery.
And as we discussed, Colombia wants to be the country that leads that process in the Americas, and we want to consolidate our market and want to continue being a country that is attractive to U.S. investment. We have hundreds of companies, dozens of companies that have over 50 years of working in Colombia, employing Colombians, transforming, and aiming for the U.S. market. And we want that strategy to be evermore important in this process of re-activation.
And let me say that within the framework of the pandemic, Mr. Secretary, because COVID-19 has taught us many lessons, but it has also proven that it is in times of need when one knows who is our true friend, our true allies. At a very complex time for Colombia, we received the support for the receipt of ventilators in Colombia. We’ve managed to coordinate as well with many of the epidemiologic authorities of the U.S. to learn about the various processes. And today, I want to tell you that we are very pleased that just as we are part of the global COVAX strategy for the vaccines, we have also established bilateral contact with several U.S. companies making strides in respect of the vaccine so that we can assure Colombia’s access to a vaccine.
And I also wish to reiterate the support – your support, the White House support, the State Department support – in the sense that we will be able to have an exemplary justice in our country for all those who have caused so much harm and pain. Just like we have worked on extradition processes and just as we have participated in the capture and indictment of criminals, we have felt U.S. support and we value it very, very much.
I think that, Mr. Secretary, we had a wonderful meeting, and I thank you once again for visiting our country, for being here. And as we said repeatedly in the past, the U.S.-Colombia relationship is strengthened every day. And you have said so – Colombia represents our most important ally in Latin America – and we feel the same. And we do so because we share common values and we will continue to share and strengthen those values throughout our history. So my gratitude to you and to President Trump. Thank you so much.
MODERATOR: (Via interpretation) Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your remarks, and we hereby conclude the U.S. joint declaration. We thank everyone and all those who followed us over the TV channel and social media of the presidency. Have a wonderful Saturday, everyone.
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