Portman, Kaine Lead Bipartisan CODEL to Colombia, Meet with President Duque and Civil Society Members to Strengthen Bilateral Relationship
BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Tim Kaine (D-VA), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) on a visit to Colombia as part of their bipartisan congressional delegation (CODEL) to Central and South America.
They met with Colombian President Iván Duque to highlight ways to deepen bilateral cooperation on a range of issues including trade, economic development, counter narcotics, drug interdiction, and human rights. Colombia has made increasing, wide-ranging efforts to curb the flow of cocaine and the U.S. has been supportive of these efforts. In an effort to combat narcotics, Colombia has focused on dismantling criminal organizations, reducing drug supply and demand, combating money laundering, and increasing economic opportunity in underdeveloped rural areas. The delegation also discussed implementation of the 2016 peace accords and the importance of protecting the rule of law and human rights in relation to recent protests.
The delegation discussed efforts to stem the tide of COVID-19, especially among Colombia’s rural and vulnerable populations. The U.S. recently donated 2.5 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines to Colombia.
“I appreciate the productive visit with President Duque and members of Colombia’s civil society, where we worked to strengthen relations and deepen cooperation in order to stem the flow of illegal narcotics into the U.S.,” said Portman. “The delegation also had the chance to meet with James Story, U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, where we discussed ongoing efforts in the region to help Venezuela return to democracy and economic prosperity, in which Colombia has been a critical partner.”
“Colombia is one our most critical partners and a leader in the region. I was grateful for the opportunity to have these productive conversations with President Duque as well as with business and civil society leaders in Colombia,” said Kaine. “As Chair of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I will take these important discussions back to Washington to inform my work in the Foreign Relations Committee on how to best continue to partner with Colombia to support its stability and prosperity and to address issues critical to our region such as migration, economic development, and security.”
The senators had the opportunity to meet with business and civil society leaders, including from minority and indigenous communities. In addition, the senators met with the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, James Story, amid deepening concern regarding reports of increased political and economic instability.
The delegation was grateful to the men and women of U.S. Embassy Bogotá for their outstanding support of the delegation’s visit and for ably representing our country abroad.
The visit comes as Portman and Kaine joined a letter yesterday to President Biden to reaffirm the importance of the U.S.-Colombia relationship and express concern over the recent crackdown on demonstrators.