Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
Remarks by Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
January 2, 2019
PRESIDENT DUQUE: (In progress) here, and we’re very pleased to begin this bicentenary year with your visit to Colombia. Please, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much. It’s great to be here with you. Thanks for hosting Susan and me. It’s wonderful to be in this beautiful place as well as on a gorgeous day in Cartagena. Thank you for having me here.
PRESIDENT DUQUE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Please.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes. So it is, Mr. President, an honor to be here. President Trump wanted me to send his personal best regards to you. I spoke to him last night. And as one of our closest allies in the Western Hemisphere, he wanted you to know how much we appreciate the good work you’re doing alongside of us in so many fields.
We had a great conversation today, talked about a broad range of issues; perhaps most importantly, about the enduring partnership between our two countries, one that’s rooted in the democratic values of our two countries. Too many innocent lives have been lost as a result of conflict here in Colombia. The United States is fully supportive of Colombia’s work to secure the just and lasting peace that the people of Colombia deserve. We’re pleased to help Colombia strengthen the conditions for peace by expanding governance, increasing security, improving protection of human rights, and growing economic opportunity here as well.
The United States remains deeply concerned about the surge in coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia since 2013 and its impact on each of our two countries. We will continue to work with you, Mr. President, side by side, to achieve our joint objectives to cut coca cultivation and coca production by 50 percent between now and 2023. We know we must do our part to reduce demand in our country, and we’ll work alongside you here as well.
Our two countries, the United States and Colombia, have an excellent economic partnership that benefits both of our countries. We discussed today how we will strengthen this relationship by eliminating trade barriers in the trucking and pharmaceutical industries and in agriculture. Our trade relationship is underscored by the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement that has supported economic growth and employment opportunities in both of our countries. For example, U.S. agricultural exports have more than doubled between 2011 and 2017. We will build on this.
Our countries’ mutual successes under this agreement have created more jobs, and we continue to see opportunity for increased investment in each of our two countries. We agree that foreign investment here in Colombia matters, and that all other nations in the Western Hemisphere must adhere to international norms and standards of transparency. This is incredibly important.
And finally, let me close. We also spoke at some length about the terrible situation in Venezuela. Colombia’s long democratic tradition makes it a natural leader on regional efforts to support democracy and the rule of law there. Colombia has gone to great lengths to support approximately one million Venezuelans who live in Colombia today and who have fled the crisis because of the Maduro regime’s authoritarian misrule.
I want to commend you, Mr. President. Both you and your people have assisted Venezuelans fleeing to your country. The United States has dedicated nearly $92 million to aid in Colombia in – to assist in aiding the Venezuelan crisis. This includes 55 million in humanitarian aid and 37 million in economic and development assistance. Our conversation today covered a broad of how we may collaborate with regional and international partners to help those who are fleeing Venezuela and return Venezuela to its democratic heritage.
Thank you, President Duque, for your commitment to restoring democracy in Venezuela and thank you for your country’s longstanding friendship with the United States of America.
PRESIDENT DUQUE: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary of State Pompeo. This is a very special year for Colombia because this is the year during which we will celebrate our bicentennial – a bicentennial that also has great history of relationship between Colombia and the United States.
Two hundred years ago, the support of the founding fathers of the United States to our independence proved crucial at the time, and today to receive on this second day of 2019 with your visit is something that makes us very honored and we are truly pleased. We have to further strengthen this bilateral relation, and I want to thank you personally and President Trump, Vice President Pence for your desire to always support our government and to strengthen not just our idea of building peace with lawfulness, justice, with the rule of law, with order, but also to allow ourselves to build peace based on that lawfulness with entrepreneurship.
And that’s why I feel that the topics discussed today where you reiterated your support to our security agenda to fight terrorism and drug trafficking is of paramount importance. But I also want to underline the idea of strengthening entrepreneurship and trade as a means for eliminating poverty and providing better opportunities to our citizens. To strengthen trade between the United States and Colombia is very important for us to broaden the number of eligible products, to receive the support that we’ve received from the U.S. cooperation agency in the areas hit the hardest by violence. All the topics we’ve discussed today, Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you for that because Colombia welcomes it with great enthusiasm.
It’s also important to mention that in this cooperation that we have discussed, we also looked at the possibility of receiving from the U.S. the firm commitment to assist us – dismantle organized criminal networks, and that is pivotal. And I cannot cease to mention what you stated so clearly: All the countries that defend and uphold democracy, all the countries that share the values of democracy must unite to reject the dictatorship in Venezuela and to do whatever is necessary and deploy every single effort possible to re-establish democracy and constitutional order in Venezuela.
I think that the humanitarian assistance is very important given that we have hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan brothers and sisters who have fleed the dictatorship looking for hope. And that’s why U.S. support to our policy of brotherhood and our idea of broadening the temporary care of migrants is something that we are very pleased to receive from you.
So, Secretary Pompeo, thank you. Thank you for your visit to Colombia. Thank you for supporting our administration and everything we’re doing to make this country a country that, in its bicentennial, will free itself of terrorism, polarization, drug trafficking, and we will see entrepreneurship and opportunities flourish all over the country. You find in us a friendly government and here, the U.S. will always find a country with whom it can work in the defense of the values of legality, entrepreneurship, and equality. So thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.