DEFENSE MINISTER TRUJILLO:  (Via interpreter) Distinguished guests, distinguished Secretary of State, generals, officers invited to this event, we would like to underscore the efforts that the Colombian Government has been making in the eradication of the global threat that is drug trafficking.  With the help of the United States, we have been eradicating crops.  The – our efforts with manual eradication have increased.  Since President Duque has taken office, the increase in the eradication and the success has been enormous.  We will continue working in this sense, working with the Orion programs – Orion 3, Orion 4, as well as doing naval – working with our navy and also in aspersion.  As soon as we get an okay for the environmental support for us to continue spraying, we will do that.  We – what we want to do is make sure that in the future, the world will be a world free of drugs.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Minister.  I will be brief today, but I wanted to thank you all for coming out to be with me.  This is an important mission, and I wanted to express on behalf of the United States our thanks to you and our continued commitment to this important program.  We are grateful for the sustained partnership between the United States and the Colombian police, including those of you who are working directly with eradication on the ground, aviators, commandos.  I know you all live this.  You all understand these risks.  So do we.

These gentlemen sitting here to my left have made great sacrifices in pursuit of this important work, and the good news is we’ve seen progress.  In calendar year 2019, as the foreign minister said, we reached new highs, you reached new highs in your efforts.  That came with a lot of sweat and a lot of training, a lot of hard work and a lot of risk.  The United States knows that and we stand with you to assist you in these important efforts.  We’re confident in this year, 2020 – in the year ahead – we will still do better and that the work between eradication and interdiction will stem the flow of these dangerous materials all across the world.  It matters to the United States, it matters to Colombia, it matters to the people of this region.  The work that you undertake is noble and important.

I want to commend the cadets’ commitment to service and being role models to their communities.  Our State Department is providing support and assistance to these cadets, and just yesterday, I had the chance to be out with 22 families, families of those who were killed by terrorists a year ago.  The United States won’t forget; I know that you will not forget.  We know the risk that you all take, and it reminds us all of the importance of the efforts and challenges that are presented to you, the Colombian National Police.

I want to announce too today that we recognize the injuries and suffering that some of you and your families have experienced.  Today, I’m announcing a $1 million project to improve the ability of wounded warriors to find employment, to have successful careers after their time in service when they have sacrificed so much on this important mission.  Thank you.  Muchas gracias on behalf of the American people.  God bless you, good luck.  Keep going, keep up the mission, and thank you so much on behalf of the United States of America for your continued efforts.  God bless you.

 

U.S. Department of State

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