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May 2019

May 8, 2019

Washington D.C., May 2019

The Vice President of the Republic, Marta Lucía Ramírez, met with the Secretary of Defense of the United States, Patrick M. Shanahan, with whom she ratified the commitment that the two nations have had to fight against drug trafficking in the region and the support for the Venezuelan people in the midst of the political and economic crisis that this South American country is going through.

The common objective of this cooperation that has been given for many years is to defeat the drug trafficking that is the source of income of criminal groups "that have affected us and that also affects the stability in our region. We know that in Venezuela we have this criminal regime that is protecting members of terrorist groups from different countries with drug trafficking and illegal mining, and this mixture is really bad for us and for democracy.

In this meeting that was part of the Vice President agenda for the United States, the official pointed out that "in Colombia, we have the same concerns, not only for Venezuela, we have concerns about the criminal regime that exercises public functions without being a government, because it is clear to us that they are not an elected government, they did not take power through democracy and they are there not only for the support of some Venezuelan military, but also for support from abroad.

He pointed out that for Colombia; this is an issue of security and stability because "the future of our democracy, of our values, is at stake. This is serious because it is not a short-term vision of the problem; it is a long-term vision of the stability of our democracy and institutions not only for Colombia but for the entire region. That's why we thank the United States for its support.

Secretary Shanahan thanked Vice President Ramírez for the willingness and support that Colombia has been providing to confront the Venezuelan crisis and praised the military cooperation that has taken place between the two countries, stressing that each day is stronger than ever.

Finally, senior officials announced that the USNS Comfort will be in Colombia in June to assist Venezuelan migrants and refugees who migrate from their country to neighboring nations.

May 8, 2019

Official Presidential Page

Statement

Washington, D.C. May 2019

Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Vice President Pence highlighted the strength of the relationship between Colombia and the United States and Colombia's role as a key strategic partner in the Western Hemisphere.

Both leaders highlighted the substantial and successful meetings of the Lima Group, as well as the efforts and leadership of the United States and Colombia to achieve the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.

Vice Presidents Pence and Ramirez highlighted the illegitimate nature of Maduro's regime and called on him to respect the will of the Venezuelan people and understand that his time has run out.

Vice President Pence and Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez committed to strengthening bilateral relations across a broad range of policy issues, including the fight against drugs, defense issues, security, investment and humanitarian support.

They reaffirmed their willingness to develop concrete actions that can be taken to eliminate the scourge of illicit drugs that continually fuel violence and corruption in the region.

May 9, 2019

May 09, 2019

The U.S. Government issued a notice announcing that it will allow access to Colombian Pepper Fruit. This was announced by the Ministers of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, José Manuel Restrepo, and Agriculture and Rural Development, Andres Valencia, who detailed that this process leaves the country one step closer from completing the admissibility for the product in the American market.

This way, after almost 4 years of joint work with the Government of the United States and articulated between the Ministries of Commerce, Industry and Tourism and of Agriculture, of the Embassy of Colombia in the U.S.A., the ICA and ProColombia, this achievement has been reached, which is one more step in the strategy of taking advantage of trade agreements, which is part of the Government's Trade Policy.

Minister Valencia Pinzón stressed that this is a great achievement of the Colombian Sanitary Diplomacy for continuing to open markets and opportunities to take food harvested in the Colombian countryside abroad.

"We expect the demand for Pepper Fruit to increase exponentially with the opening of the market of the United States, which is the main buyer worldwide," said Valencia.

For his part, Minister José Manuel Restrepo said that "we will no doubt continue to move towards the goal we have set for ourselves of increasing the country's exports of non-mining energy goods and services by 2022. The United States is a market with great potential that in 2018 imported from the world US$ 1.279 billion in Pepper Fruit, 73.7% bought it from Mexico. So it opens up a huge opportunity for Colombian producers”.

It is important to note that the second largest supplier of Pepper Fruit to the United States is Canada, which participates with 19.4% of these imports.

Now, for 60 days, this notification will be open for public consultation. If after this time there are no comments, the Colombian Pepper Fruit will obtain admissibility in the United States, as soon as the country accredits compliance with the requirements of the export operational plan agreed upon by the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States (Aphis).

President Ivan Duque's Sanitary Diplomacy Strategy, the technical work of the Colombian sanitary authority and the articulation of the Ministries of Commerce, Industry and Tourism and Agriculture, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Embassy of Colombia in the United States, allowed to dynamize a process of more than four years that leaves the country one step from the most important market for this product.

Last year Colombia exported US$178,285.4 in Pepper Fruit, which represented an increase of 47.8% compared to 2017. Curaçao and Aruba are the main destinations for these exports. In the first two months of this year, the country exported US$ 22,878.3.

Antioquia, Santander, Norte de Santander and Valle del Cauca are the main producing areas of Pepper Fruit in the country, and should be prepared to meet the standards required by the United States and take this opportunity that opens up for this product.

In addition, La Guajira will be another benefited department, since the idea is to promote national and foreign investment in the establishment of crops in controlled environments with a view to taking advantage of this opportunity.

May 15, 2019

Official Presidential Page

Bogotá, May 15, 2019

Colombians:

The National Government respects the Constitution and, therefore, the separation of powers. However, we share the indignation of the Colombian people for the decision of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) to order the release of the syndicate for drug trafficking in the United States, alias 'Jesus Santrich'.

The accused 'Santrich' was captured by orders of the Attorney General's Office for the purpose of extradition for the commission of the crime of drug trafficking on April 9, 2018. As indicated by the Attorney General, there is conclusive and unequivocal evidence with respect to to the commission of the crime of drug trafficking after December 1, 2016.

Recidivism in drug trafficking crimes or any other criminal behavior is an attack on the victims and the entire country and, therefore, sanctions must be applied that respond forcefully to legality and justice.

Two of the objections for inconvenience that I presented to the Congress of the Republic, related to the weakening of extradition, seek to avoid this type of outcome that today outrages us. Acting with the Constitution in hand and defending legality and the Rule of Law, as well as strengthening international judicial cooperation, were some of the reasons why we presented objections to the Statutory Law of the JEP.

The National Government supports the decision of the Procurator General of the Nation to appeal the decision, because we are not dealing with a closed case. All the institutions of the State will guarantee the application of justice, judicial cooperation, and all the tools at their disposal so that there is no impunity will be used.

I regret the resignation of the Attorney General of the Nation, with whom we have worked with determination in the fight against crime and corruption, and who with all his team have been defenders of the Social State of Law.

I will preserve above all the institutional strenght of our country. I call on the political parties to carry out the necessary reforms that will allow us to close the doors to drug trafficking, to impunity, and to strengthen extradition as one of the mechanisms that have proven effective in the fight against transnational criminals.

As President of the Republic, I have been, am and will always be ready to sign the extradition of alias 'Jesus Santrich' and of any other accused for drug trafficking, in accordance with the Constitution and the Law. The genuine truth, the genuine justice, the Genuine reparation and the genuine guarantee of non-repetition of the victims would be at risk in case of tolerating criminal recidivism. Justice must always be, always, at the service of the victims and not of the perpetrators.

Drug trafficking in Colombia represents a serious disturbance of public order that threatens institutional stability in different regions of the country. The killings of social leaders, the influence of cartels in vulnerable regions, the expansion of illicit crops, and the weakening of tools such as extradition are threats that we will face with all the options offered by the Constitution.

I want it to be clear to all the Colombian people that our country will not cohabitate with drug trafficking.

May 23, 2019

Official Presidential Page

The purpose is to establish a new level of security cooperation to effectively combat transnational crime and other threats to border security, as well as to facilitate legitimate travel and trade between the two countries.

Bogotá, May 22, 2019.

The DIAN and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, signed on Wednesday a memorandum of understanding to improve security between the two countries.

This instrument will raise the levels of effectiveness in the detection and surveillance of criminal networks and cross-border criminal activities, through the exchange and analysis of cargo manifest and means of transport.

In addition, a mechanism will be established for the review and evaluation of information in order to identify possible risks and threats to the national security of both countries, including transnational criminal activities.

The Director of the DIAN, José Andrés Romero, indicated that "with this cooperation, the United States and Colombia will benefit in the identification and tracking of cargo, transportation and companies that may represent a risk, as well as being involved in transnational crimes.”.

As for the U.S. Embassy in Colombia expressed its interest in continuing to work with DIAN on advisory, detection, facilitation, exchange and training programs.

For the U.S. Government, the signing of this agreement represents a major step forward in the joint effort and cooperation on security to effectively combat transnational crime and other threats to border security.