The Trump administration is committed to a safe, democratic Latin America (Opinion)Ambassador Robert C. O'Brien
I recently traveled to Panama and Colombia to meet with presidents Cortizo and Duque and to announce the launch of several of President Donald J. Trump’s initiatives to enhance security, prosperity, and democracy in the Western Hemisphere.
The U.S.-Colombia Growth Initiative will unleash billions of dollars of American private sector investment in Colombia over the next three years. These investments will focus on projects that empower rural Colombians and expand economic opportunities for farmers, such as roads, land titling, and farming infrastructure. By making investments in Colombia’s legitimate agricultural economy, we can begin to move rural Colombians away from coca cultivation.
We expanded our agreement with Panama under the América Crece — Growth in the Americas — program to include infrastructure investment as well as energy projects. Beyond Panama, América Crece will help address the region’s shortfall of over $150 billion in annual private sector infrastructure and energy investment. Almost a dozen of our neighboring countries have already signed framework deals, and we have unleashed over $1 billion in regional investment through the U.S Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
We also inaugurated an anti-money laundering partnership with Panama. Unfortunately, the Panamanian banking system has become a haven for Nicolas Maduro’s illegitimate Venezuelan regime, his Cuban supporters, and narcotics facilitators. Our efforts with our Panamanian partners are aimed at ending this situation.
The United States is standing by Latin America’s side as we fight COVID. During my visit to Panama City, we delivered 50 American-made ventilators, together with testing kits and personal protective equipment. Over 2,000 American ventilators have been delivered to the region. The United States has donated an additional $141 million to help the Western Hemisphere combat COVID.
President Trump is committed to democracy and rule of law in our hemisphere. Despite a history of authoritarian governments and dictatorships, today the region is full of thriving democracies. Only Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba are run by socialist dictators, with the support of Russia, China and Iran.To restore democracy in Venezuela, we are applying maximum pressure on the Maduro regime. The Trump administration is leading an historic coalition of nearly 60 nations in support of interim President Juan Guaido. President Trump reversed the previous administration’s disastrous policy of appeasing Cuba and has implemented a vigorous sanctions regime against Nicaragua. Our hope is that the people of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua will one day live in democracies like the rest of their neighbors.
A strong believer in the importance of cooperation in the hemisphere, President Trump has made engagement with regional leaders a top priority. The President and his cabinet have visited or hosted officials from almost every country in the hemisphere, including White House visits from the leaders of Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, Canada, Guatemala and Mexico. The United States will host the 2021 Summit of the Americas, the triennial meeting of heads of state, to convene stakeholders toward regional solutions.
President Trump’s diplomacy and economic investment demonstrates America’s commitment to building a prosperous, safe and democratic Western Hemisphere. Those policies are good for the region and they are good for the United States.
Robert O’Brien was the United States National Security Adviser.