The trip with Department of State and USAID included visits with Colombia’s President, Vice President, and other officials to discuss the continued collaboration between the U.S. and Colombia to address the overdose epidemic
This week, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta led a U.S. delegation to Colombia together with Department of State Assistant Secretary Todd Robinson and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator Peter Natiello. This trip was one of the first official visits by United States officials following the recent inauguration of Colombian President Gustavo Petro. During his trip, Dr. Gupta met with President Petro, Vice President Márquez, and various ministers to highlight the United States’ holistic approach to drug policy, which includes an emphasis on public health, development, environmental protection, state services, and security.
On Monday, Dr. Gupta met with several U.S. and Colombian leaders including the U.S. Charge D’Affairs Francisco L. Palmieri, U.S. Venezuelan Affairs Unit Ambassador James Story, and the Colombian National Police (CNP) Director, General Henry Sanabria. The day culminated with an announcement of an additional $3.85 million in State Department funds for the CNP to improve human rights practices. CNP is a pivotal partner as the U.S. and Colombia work together to meet common objectives such as cracking down on those profiting off the drug trade and stopping the flow of deadly drugs affecting people in both countries.
On Tuesday, August 23, Dr. Gupta continued his trip with a visit to a Drug Treatment Court where the Department of State announced a new Universal Treatment and Prevention project. This $2 million project will provide training to professionalize and credential the Colombian drug demand reduction workforce to decrease drug consumption and recidivism in two Colombian cities and four rural municipalities. The day continued with a meeting with Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Francisco Coy where they discussed stronger cooperation on international topics and engagements. Additionally, Dr. Gupta met with local USAID representatives and observed first-hand the impact of land-titling investments in improving economic opportunities for communities and families transitioning away from growing illicit crops. Dr. Gupta closed the day with a meeting with Colombian President Gustavo Petro, where the leaders discussed the 200-year-long relationship between our two nations and the desire to work together moving forward.
The last day in Colombia, Dr. Gupta and the delegation travelled to Tumaco with Vice President Márquez, Minister of Defense Iván Velásquez, Minister of Agriculture Cecilia López, and Minister of Environment Susana Muhamad. Dr. Gupta participated in roundtable discussions regarding the murders of social leaders and human rights defenders; met with the Mayor of Tumaco; and gathered with local farmers. The day concluded with a visit to the Tumaco Coast Guard Station for a maritime interdiction demonstration. Throughout the day, Dr. Gupta heard from local community leaders about the economic and security challenges they face.
This trip reconfirmed the close relationship and wide range of shared goals between Colombia and United States as well as the importance of a holistic strategy in our partnership to improve public health and public safety.
Read the Biden-Harris Administration’s inaugural National Drug Control Strategy HERE.
Read the fact sheet on the Strategy HERE.