U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again condemned the actions of dictator Nicolás Maduro, on September 19, which according to him protect terrorist organizations.
During a virtual press conference held with Colombian President Iván Duque, following the U.S. secretary of State’s visit to the Colombian Presidential Palace, Pompeo said that they discussed the need for Colombia to have “lasting and just peace,” and he described the actions of dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish), and other terrorist groups as “unacceptable,” adding that they “cannot be tolerated.”
He also condemned “the actions of regimes like Maduro’s, which provide safe haven, aid, and indeed comfort to those terrorists.”
Secretary Pompeo also thanked Duque for the support provided to Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó and for the “democratic transition for a sovereign Venezuela free of malign influence from Cuba, from Russia, from Iran.”
“You are a true leader for the region and the dignity of all its people,” the head of U.S. diplomacy added.
For his part, Duque referred to the recent United Nations report, which confirmed that there are logical reasons to believe that Maduro and his ministers of Interior and Defense ordered or contributed to perpetrating the crimes documented in the report to silence the opposition.
He said that this investigation confirms “that Nicolás Maduro is […] responsible for crimes against humanity, as well as his inner circle, and urges that actions be adopted within the framework of the international justice system.”
This report, he added, “must serve to validate what has already been announced by the Organization of American States, 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.”
Duque and Pompeo’s meeting focused on the situation of Venezuelan migrants, among other issues.
Pompeo congratulated the Colombian government for its handling of public health during the coronavirus pandemic, adding that it helped save the lives of thousands of Colombian and Venezuelan nationals.
“Your public health work has saved tens of thousands of lives. You and the Colombian people should be very proud of that.”
Duque thanked the United States for its support in the delivery of ventilators and for lessons learned from communications with U.S. epidemiological authorities, as well as “bilateral contact with several U.S. companies making strides in this area so that we can guarantee the Colombian people have access to a vaccine.”
Fight against drugs and terrorism
Secretary Pompeo described the efforts of the Duque administration as “exemplary” in the fight against drugs and said that “Colombian law enforcement, even in these difficult times, has stepped up cocaine interdiction and eradication. You manually cleared 57 percent more coca fields in 2019 than in the year prior.”
In this regard, Duque said that in 2019, “we achieved the highest reduction in coca-cultivated area in the last six years,” and he praised the Orion Naval Campaign, where, according to the president, the United States and 23 other countries “have managed to engage in the largest interdiction operation against drug trafficking in the Caribbean.”
The Colombian president expressed thanks for the help of “the USAID cooperation agency because they have stood by us in projects such as the multipurpose registry, the massive issuance of title deeds for land, and reaching out to the communities hardest hit by violence and poverty.”
Additionally, Duque highlighted the U.S. support in confronting ELN guerrillas and FARC dissidents, among other “very dangerous criminal rings,” and in the peace with legality process.