The commander of U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Army General Laura J. Richardson, visited Panama October 17-18 where she led the U.S. delegation for the sixth meeting of the High-Level Security Dialogue (HLSD) between Panama and the United States.
The visit was Gen. Richardson’s second to Panama as commander of SOUTHCOM. In addition to the HLSD, the general joined Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo for a ceremony October 17 as the United States donated a King Air 250 maritime patrol aircraft to Panama.
During the HLSD on October 17, delegations from both nations discussed issues such as irregular migration, the importance of a domain forfeiture law, prevention of money laundering and illegal fishing, as well as the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. The four pillars of the bilateral security dialogue were border security, citizen security, maritime security, and cybersecurity.
Gen. Richardson also met with President Cortizo October 17 to discuss bilateral cooperation on security issues.
During the maritime aircraft donation ceremony, the United States delivered the donated King Air 250 aircraft to President Cortizo. The aircraft was purchased through the Department of Defense’s Foreign Military Finance (FMF) program for $12 million and will strengthen the capacity of Panamanian security forces in the fight against drug trafficking and illegal fishing, in search and rescue missions, and disaster response.
Gen. Richardson also met with Panama Canal Administrator Dr. Ricaurte Vásquez Morales to discuss the safety of the canal.
On October 18, Gen. Richardson accompanied Panamanian Minister of Public Security Juan Pino to visit with Panamanian security forces operating in the Darién Gap — the land bridge connecting Panama and Colombia that is seeing record migration and an evolving humanitarian crisis. During the visit, the general got a first-hand look at the work Panamanian security forces carry out in the border area of Panama and Colombia. The tour included a visit to the Panama-Colombia binational base in Alto Limón, and to the base of the fifth brigade of the National Border Service (SENAFRONT) in Metetí.
The United States and Panama share a longstanding security partnership that dates back more than a century.