During a conversation with the Colombian Defense Minister, Diego Molano, the North American Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, highlighted the contributions of the South American country "to international and regional security."
On Monday, the United States expressed its commitment to "strengthen" defense relations with Colombia, one of its main allies in the region. This is how the US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, spoke on his social networks after the conversation he had with the Colombian Defense Minister, Diego Molano.
I spoke with the Colombian Minister of National Defense Diego Molano. I pledged to strengthen my advocacy relationship. We're talking about provincial security, environment change, Covid-19, and honor for human rights in the Western Hemisphere," Austin said.
The leaders discussed their shared interests in enhancing cooperation on strategic issues, including the response to COVID-19, climate change, the fight against terrorism and drugs, the exchange of intelligence and human rights in Colombia and the entire hemisphere. Including a guarantee of respect. The Pentagon said in a statement. He added: Secretary Austin congratulates Colombia on its development as a NATO Partner and expresses gratitude for Colombia's services to international and regional security.
This contact between those responsible for the Defense portfolios occurs amid the crisis that Colombia is going through, where social demonstrations against the Government persist.
In this regard, the United States highlighted the decision of the Government of Iván Duque to deploy an operation to locate missing persons in the framework of the protests and for its commitment to investigate allegations of abuse against protesters.
"We welcome the announcements by the Colombian government to investigate allegations of excessive use of force by the police," said President Joe Biden's spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
The White House press secretary stressed that the Duque government has activated "a special search unit to investigate reports of missing persons with 35 teams deployed throughout the country to follow up on complaints received through direct lines 24 hours a day.".
"We encourage the authorities to continue working to locate all missing persons as soon as possible. We certainly encourage those actions," he said.
Psaki referred to the issue when asked at a press conference about the claims of US legislators, including Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern, for the Biden government to denounce "clearly and unequivocally police brutality in Colombia."
According to the Prosecutor's Office and the Office of the Ombudsman of Colombia, the protests that broke out in Colombia on April 28 left at least 43 dead, 15 in direct relation to the demonstrations and 11 in the process of verification constitutional body that watches over human rights.
The two institutions reported that 290 people had been reported as missing. An urgent search mechanism is enabled for 129 applications.
Washington's request to Bogotá comes when the vice president and designated foreign minister of Colombia, Marta Lucía Ramírez, develops an intense diplomatic plan in the US capital this week.
According to the Colombian embassy, the visit seeks to "strengthen bilateral ties, reveal details of the social situation experienced in the country and strengthen cooperation in the fight against covid-19."
After meeting with the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, Ramírez rejected, for now, his request, as well as that of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to observe first-hand what is happening In Colombia.
Our request is from IACHR and also from Secretary Al Magro himself.
We have said that all visits are welcome. But at this moment, we consider that we must wait for the control bodies themselves to finish doing their homework, investigate each of the cases and organize a plan in the coming weeks for any of the visits," he told reporters.
The IACHR, which asked the Duque government for the green light ten days ago to evaluate the human rights situation in Colombia' in situ', said on Twitter that during the meeting with Ramírez, the importance of the working visit was reiterated, and its scope and format".
Ramírez also plans to meet with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, and several congressmen, including McGovern.
In a letter to US diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, McGovern, co-chair of the Human Rights Commission in the US Congress, and 55 other lawmakers called for an immediate end to tensions in Colombia.
The letter dated May 14 even asked to suspend direct assistance to Colombia, as well as the sale of weapons and equipment to the Colombian anti-riot police ESMAD, "until clear and concrete benchmarks of human rights are established and met."
Duque, close to the Government of former Republican President Donald Trump, has said that Colombia, a traditional ally of the United States in the region, aspires to maintain a "strategic, bipartisan and bicameral" relationship Democrat Biden.