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News | May 8, 2019

Colombian Vice President's Pentagon Visit Highlights Bilateral Relationship

By xxxTerri Moon Cronk,

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan hosted Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez at the Pentagon to reaffirm the close partnership between the United States and Colombia and to discuss the ongoing political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

Shanahan thanked Ramírez for the support her country is providing to address the Venezuelan crisis, and he praised the robust military partnership between the United States and Colombia.

In discussing the situation in Venezuela, the acting secretary described the country as "one of the most critically important challenges to our hemisphere’s peace and prosperity."

The two leaders pledged to work as a team to find a peaceful resolution to the Venezuelan crisis, and to make sure that malign actors are not able to destabilize the already-fragile environment.

Shanahan also congratulated Colombia on its NATO Global Partnership and recognized Colombian counternarcotics efforts. The acting secretary also announced the USNS Comfort hospital ship will return to that region in June to provide assistance to the health care systems of countries, including Colombia, that are affected by the influx of Venezuelan migrants and refugees.

What You Need To Know

  1. Colombia has been a NATO Global Partner since May 2018. The move enabled Colombia’s participation in training operations with the alliance. The nation is the first and only Latin American nation to become a cooperating NATO member.
  2. The Colombian army and the South Carolina National Guard have collaborated through the State Partnership Program since 2012. Through the program, the National Guard and partner countries conduct engagements to support defense security goals in cooperative, mutually beneficial relationships.
  3. Earlier this year, the U.S. military began flying humanitarian aid to a Colombian base close to the Venezuelan border to help people affected by the man-made political and economic crisis in Venezuela.
  4. Colombia has participated in UNITAS, the world’s longest-running multinational maritime exercise, since 1960. Latin for "unity," UNITAS is a demonstration of U.S. commitment to the region and the strong relationships forged between the partner nations and their militaries. Colombia has been host to the joint exercise in 2005, 2013 and 2018.
  5. Defense leaders from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the United States took part in the Multinational Borders Conference in Colombia during April to analyze the security environment and to develop ways to strengthen regional security coordination and cooperation against transnational threats.

Related Story: Navy Hospital Ship Deploying to Help Venezuelan Refugees

Related Transcript: Remarks by Acting Secretary Shanahan at a Bilateral Meeting with Colombian Vice President Ramírez

Related News Release: Joint Statement by Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan and Vice President of Colombia Marta Lucía Ramírez Following Today’s Meeting at the Pentagon

Related News Release: Readout of Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan’s Meeting with Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez