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tv   State Dept. Officials Testify on Latin America  CSPAN  January 5, 2022 11:42pm-1:51am EST

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american missionaries in
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haiti. this is just over two hours. : : review of the state of democracy in the region. we heard concerns about the uptick in fraudulent elections, shrinking space for civil society, media, efforts to politicize judicial institutions and at the loss of hope in the region plagued by insecurity. while the inter-american democratic charter marked its 20th anniversary in september, the harsh reality is that we are witnessing a fraying of democratic consensus in the
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americas. given the secretary-general's diagnosis, it is critical the biden administration continue efforts to restore the democracy as a central pillar of u.s. foreign policy. in the june memorandum the president made it clear that combating is a u.s. national security priority and american diplomats are again using the language of human rights. after four years and the trump administration failing to stand up for the fundamental values, we have acutely felt the effects and these initial steps are welcome, but we must do more because the truth is that since march, the situation in the hemisphere has become even more challenging. the citizens for the fundamental freedoms and unprecedented countrywide protests in july. the regime had physical assaults with internet shutdowns and
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decreased criminalizing free expression on social media. the terrified of the people's desire for change it militarized the entire island to prevent protests in november. while i welcome to the administrations four rounds of targeted sanctions we must move more aggressively to hold security forces accountable and strategic efforts to d militarize the economy in parallel with our support. the regime relentless campaign and independent media resulted in the recent sham elections this month congress passed the act of starting a new era of international accountability. i'm pleased to the administration is already implementing with new targeted sanctions and a blanket fisa
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band on the officials complicit in the dismantling of democracy that ortega has ever faced. following the assassination gangs control large parts of the country and kidnap and terrorize civilians including american missionaries and children. i look at how the administration is looking forward to facilitate a dialogue between civil society and political actors and help the path to overcome this chaos. arbitrary jailing's and supplies to subjugate the people. it's walked away from negotiations of the unity platform talks that could help address the urgent humanitarian needs and set the country on a
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path holding deeply flawed elections that no credible democratic actor has held a free and fair. we've observed the deconstruction of the justice system as taking the training wheels off of his autocratic project and in brazil, he's plagiarizing the playbook by invoking the specter of political violence and fraud in advance of next year's elections. it's no wonder the irregular population movements are at an all-time high. at the hemisphere is at a critical inflection point. we must help democracies delivered especially as they recover from the economic and social impact of the pandemic. to reverse the democratic back filing we must help the pro-democracy movement harness the power of technology to
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confront dictatorships and strengthen democracies it's my hope that it has tangible outcomes. as we said the cost of inaction is too great and is increasingly exponential when democracies and the americans failed to protect they will come knocking at the door and if we do not increase the engagement in the hemisphere, others from further away, china, russia will be only too happy to gain a foothold to explain the tensions and divisions. look forward to discussing these and others that relates to the hearing and now return to the ranking member for his remarks. in a stable and prosperous
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hemisphere it is the guarantor of those things. the people of latin america made great strides towards democratic governance over the last several decades however it is a bottomless dissent into authoritarianism within less than a generation and venezuela into a failed state. last year they promised to use smart sanctions and greater multilateral pressure on the regime. president biden had not imposed a single sanction on the regime or any of its cronies in the european union brought forward by the united states and canada concerning the negative affect of the actors such as china and russia and at the predatory
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practices are a formidable threat in the western hemisphere. the adoption by the firm's vulnerable. the campaigns exacerbated the protests that rocked democratic countries in south america including colombia, chile and ecuador. putin openly endorses the authoritarian rulers with a goal of destabilizing the region and threatening insecurity and the export in latin america to suppress independent media, civil society and opposition. a criminal and foreign terrorist organizations and malign threats to the safety of both our communities here at home and democracies in the region.
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i hope it's more than just a ceremony of words and how promises will produce real results to improve democracy and the rule of law across the region. i look forward to hearing from the witnesses about these important issues. >> we will start with the panel. the principal deputy assistant secretary and law enforcement affairs and also was the deputy chief of mission and the embassy in columbia so very familiar with the hemisphere. thank you for joining us, and we also have the assistant circuitry for the bureau todd
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robinson served in a variety of positions, the senior advisor of central america and the bureau of affairs and was then venezuela and have deep experience which we appreciate so we will start off with secretary robinson and ask you to have your testimony be summarized thank you for bringing the issue of erosion to democracy in latin america with
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whom i'm working closely to address the challenges raised by the issue. democratic institutions that effectively and adequately made to their citizens needs are critical building blocks in this region. supporting the norms and transparent institutions is something we should all support. mr. charan, ranking member, i was expelled and venezuela in 2018 for speaking out against the regime's illegitimate elections and corrupt governance. before that, i saw firsthand as the citizens demanded of the investigation and prosecution of officials including their president. i am no stranger to the threats facing the democracy in the region and i'm also confident that working with our colleagues across the department and the interagency the biden harris
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administration is moving to protect and reinvigorate democracy both at home and abroad and the effort to span around the region. they are helping to root out rot corruption and enable greater transparency. they help strengthen the capacity of security and justice to reduce opportunities for corruption, prosecute offenders and promote a culture of
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accountability. however, we must recognize some governance lack the ability and frankly the political will to tackle corruption. indeed many of these governments and elites are benefiting from it. the strong preference is to work with government but ultimately we can't want this more. as the secretary testified in june, the governments are unable or unwilling to do what's necessary and we will increase our work with civil society, local communities and international organizations and trusted partners in the private sector particularly if they are willing to fight corruption rather than seeking to benefit from it. we strongly support efforts by watchdog groups and investigative media outlets to expose corruption, advocate for justice into democratic institutions and support anticorruption reforms in the countries. no one understands the nature of corruption better than those
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whose livelihoods suffer because of it. the crime and corruption has eroded the democratic process in the economy and the security situation and in response the department to date has issued 13 transnational organized crimes and narcotics reward offers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the cronies. we've also designated three individuals under section 7031 of the department of state foreign operations and related appropriations who abuse the public position in the region by accepting bribes and kickbacks and misappropriating funds for their own self enrichment. we've also taken similar actions in central america in places like nicaragua, guatemala, honduras and el salvador and we will continue to do so. in haiti, weak institutions into pervasive corruption contribute
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to the proliferation of gang violence including kidnappings and ransoms. they control nearly half of the key transportation infrastructures. when i was in haiti two weeks ago i met with the prime minister, the acting minister of justice, the new director general of police and the international partners to emphasize the concerns for the security situation and to discuss the plan to support to help the national police establish a tactical anti-gang unit. i stressed the need to ensure the officer accountability respect for human rights and transparency particularly for the antigang unit and will continue to support the longer-term community prevention efforts and institutional capacity building and protective
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equipment for the units countering gang this and supporting election security. i will end my testimony reiterating an important point. the political will of partners is absolutely critical. even the best resourced interventions cannot succeed if the partners are not equally or more committed to the challenge. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding the efforts to promote inclusive democracy in the americas. at two decades ago, we and our western hemisphere partners committed to promote and defend democracy across the region for the inter-american democratic charter. following that historic commitment they enjoyed a period of relative prosperity, security
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and stability. unfortunately, too many ordinary citizens in the region's democracies saw their governments failing to meet their aspirations for a better future. street protests broke out in several as citizens expressed anger and frustration with political and economic elites. they exacerbated the underlining governance challenge. and as the secretary said in his october 20th march found ourselves in a moment of democratic reckoning and the question for all of us who believe in democracy believe the survivalist revival and what can we do to make democracies deliver on the issues that matter most to people. at the defining mission in the bureau of the hemisphere is answering that question and doing all we can to deliver the benefits of democracy to the nations of the americas.
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we know elements to strengthen democracy when we must use every economic and moral tool available to combat corruption. including the visa restrictions, economic sanctions and naming more than 60 individuals in el salvador, guatemala and to the section 353 corrupt and undemocratic actors. we will expand on our commitment to fight corruption as the host of the americas next year. to strengthen's ability and violence and transnational criminal organizations we laid the groundwork for more comprehensive approaches to
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securing at the october 8th high-level security dialogue with mexico and at the high-level dialogue with columbia. we will adopt similar approaches with other partners. we must also address the economic and social challenges facing our citizens as together we recover from the pandemic. in partnership we've donated more than 54 million doses. more than $10 billion in latin america and the caribbean development finance corporation to help the region restart its economy. the presidents build back better will reframe of the efforts moving forward. we must work tirelessly to support democracy where there is undemocratic regimes prevailed. we support the platform in venezuela and the demand for human rights and democracy.
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into the specific program. we announced a proclamation on nicaragua suspending the entry of complicity and undermining democracy. our policy focuses on the support of the cuban people and accountability for cuban government officials involved in the human rights abuses. working with the international community we condemn the violence and of perpetration by the regime since july, the treasury department has enclosed four rounds of targeted sanctions against cuban officials within the cuban military and security services
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imposing consequences against repressor's and promoting accountability for the human rights abuses. the administration also supports efforts to counter internet censorship. we work with the private sector and other stakeholders to identify the viable options to ensure the greater internet access. these other challenges in the region stand by the conviction that democracy remains the best form of government to address them. at the president will host the summit for democracy december 9th and 10th where we will take on commitments to fight corruption, defend against authoritarianism and to promote respect for human rights both at home and abroad. thank you again for the opportunity to testify and i look forward to your question. >> thank you for the testimony we will start a series of five-minute rounds.
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let's talk about some of these things specifically. the military has claimed that it draws its power from the people. using the military to perpetrate the stronghold on the cuban people in spite of the democratic openings. the regime militarize is the island to shut down peaceful protests and continues expanding the military control of the cuban economy fueling the rise of a new generation of military oligarchs in the process. of the biden administration rudely decimated the global megminsky sanctions but it's bee clear. let me ask you do we agree the cuban military has an extensive control of the economy and
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controlling the largest business and putting itself in the position to suck up resources that go into different parts of the country is of great concern. the military's role in repressing the citizens that seek only to exercise the fundamental rights of free speech and assembly has been documented for decades and everything that we can do to prevent that conduct i think will be important and effectively demilitarization of
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the full range of the authorities we look to block the resources for moving into military control organizations and companies, and we will continue to prevent military individuals from traveling and we will work with allies and partners around the world to highlight the abuses the cuban military perpetrates on the populace. >> there is more that can be done and a lot more sanctioning that could take place so that people understand and they don't get away with impunity. one of the things we should look at is revoking the visa of a variety of cuban military and cuban officials families that have visas to come to the united states. it sends a clear message that we
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won't tolerate and give them the benefit of doing what everyday cubans cannot do. i would urge the administration to look at that. the freedom of expression inside of cuba particularly to the use of the internet, and you referred to it in your testimony. i understand we have been using we don't want to give greater circumvention. why is it that we have not been able to find the pathway to greater widespread internet use inside of cuba, what are the obstacles that we are facing in that regard? >> there are a number of challenges regarding the internet and cuba. the first is the amount of
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bandwidth that goes into the country which is quite limited. if there were greater then overall, there would be ability to access to block access to individuals, to small groups of people, to specific geographic locations and does not typically shut down the entire internet. i am happy to go into greater detail. >> that is been suggestions if we did a variety of other things we could more successfully get access to the internet for the cuban people.
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we've researched those and the challenges of bandwidth on the island, is that what you're saying? >> a wireless signal into the island either from below and orient aircraft or from a static location when the cuban authorities would be actively trying to jam the signal presents a significant technological challenge and i'm happy to go into greater detail on that. >> let me close on venezuela. i think the administration has rightfully claimed the recent elections as a sham and i believe other countries have also joined in calling this such. i'm really concerned about the purposes of the intentions and
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elite memos show the recommendations from his own staff and in observation mission to venezuela. if we want a credible alternative to report about all the flaws and manipulations it has to be prepared by a credible organization. can you confirm for us today that the united states does indeed support a negotiated solution. they will be tied to concrete results of the negotiating table. >> yes, mr. chair man and i will be meeting with members of the platform this afternoon. >> the international unity platform have shown their willingness to participate in the negotiations to restore democracy and the rule of law however in a sign they suspended the talks in october because he's upset about someone that was apprehended by the justice
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department who may have spilled the goods on him. so it shows where we are at and i hope the world recognizes that. to speak to the fact that in the last presidential campaign, then candidate biden published sanctions on the regime. thank you, ranking member. we continue to support in negotiated process in venezuela.
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to use all the authorities that we have been given, we believe that the crucial elements in the way forward is the negotiation process and hopefully they will return to the table. >> every time we talk to the administration about this, they say we are looking at information. it is our goal to collect comprehensive detailed information and with judicial scrutiny.
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>> the participation in human rights violations. those are the types of areas that we seek information. >> do we plan on doing any sanctions at all in the future? they use the sanctions authority available and i suspect we will continue to use so. i would just add i don't think the previous administration or the current administration are holding back on the sanctions, certainly not against members of the regime, and we continued to do that. >> were any of you consulted on
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removing the terrorist list? >> the bureau of affairs was consulted and played a role in the listing and if the delisting that demobilized in 2016. >> and did you recommend that take place? >> the delisting recognizes the reality on the ground that original if you will which targeted me when i was in columbia. they've participated in the peace process since 2016. they've demobilized their structures while the market have carried out continued terrorist activity attacks, individuals, carried out bombings,
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participated in drug trafficking, and we want to focus we came to the same conclusion thank you for holding this hearing and let me think both of the witnesses. our hemisphere has always bragged about having democratic states yet in recent decades we've seen a decline of the democracy, the decline of countries where they have free and fair elections which denies the people of the country effective democratic governance
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i understand you are collecting information and i know that you were using the different legislative authorities that you have to identify actors and sanctions and to use the country activities to express our concerns about the decline of democracy. but i just want to be clear, to me the sanction that has done the most international attention is the sanctions we have to identify individuals for the bands which is really critical for those that participate if we
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can deny that opportunity it affects the ability to carry out to their corrupt regimes on the commitment to use the sanctions and i must tell you i haven't seen the robust use of the sanctions in the hemisphere. to anticipate between congress and the administration working together to identify and impose sanctions that are those types of activities to identify the corruption as the fuel to the undemocratic regimes so can we be more open and robust they are
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going to be identified by the united states. if we don't have leadership there won't be leadership in this hemisphere. we have to take the lead. i understand there is a due process to collect information but we also have to be very clear about the willingness to identify those actors and impose tough sanctions against them individually. why aren't we being more aggressive about this? >> thank you for that important question. from our standpoint, the administration hasn't been leaning back on this. but we have to recognize it is a
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kit that we can use to not just go after those that are committing the corrupt acts but we have to look at other tools that we can use to support for democratic institutions do you know how many sanctions have been imposed in the last 12 months? >> i don't know off the top of my head, no. >> i think we are over 40. how many are now under consideration? >> i can't tell you how many are currently under consideration,
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but we look to aggressively deploy them across all the areas where we see problems and as you eluded to, the key part of that is bringing along international partners so when we are able to enlist the european union or canada, the uk and also apply sanctions the organizations that all increases the pressure on the authoritarian and criminal regimes. >> i will just conclude and ask for a commitment that you work with the staff on the list that you're working on and the countries that you're working on because it's our impression that we take the more direct and visible sanctions to make it clear that america's leadership
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is there and i understand we want to work with other countries. >> but it's critical the united states takes the lead and i would ask your commitment that we work with the staff to identify countries and individuals that need to be considered for these type of sanctions. >> i think you would agree with that. you would also agree that columbia is one of the most stable democracies and one of the best partners and allies. that's a correct statement. do we consult with them? >> yes. >> what was their take on it? >> so, this has been part of the implementation of the 2016 agreement between the government and the peace accord and from
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columbia standpoint, the key element is to be able to deliver assistance in areas where it's demobilized. >> were they in favor or against the listing? >> they were certainly in favor of us providing assistance for those who've demobilized and all are participating in the peace process and also in favor of us listing. >> in terms of providing assistance to those that have demobilized is it not true they wanted that assistance to the government? >> we have a robust partnership on these issues and we work hand-in-hand with them. >> isn't it true what they wanted was to the extent you're
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going to provide assistance to these people that abandoned the fight and lay down their weapon to become politically engaged we want you to run that through the democratically listed government not unilaterally. >> they and many governments usaid and other implementing agencies to be able to directly carry out the programming. >> even if it goes against the wishes of the democratically elected partner. everything was agreed with the government of colombia. >> are you saying they agreed to this agreement, that is what they wanted to see happen?
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>> they signed an agreement whether it's with usaid or iml. >> did they agree with of the direct delivery of aid to these elements? >> i didn't personally participate in that. >> again, i don't want to give the impression that there is any daylight between the government of columbia and of the united states. they are partners. >> i can tell you i know what their opinion is. if they want to favor the delisting and want it to be provided to these people that we provided to them. let's talk about the reality on the ground. after the so-called peace process, the people who laid down their arms and became politically engaged have done so through a political party,
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correct? —-dash group is not sanctioned. they are not on any list of foreign terrorist organization and the group that did not lay down their arms have become gone on to become dissident groups. we sanctioned the group that became the dissident, we added them to the list and the people on the political party are no longer sanctioned, they are no longer a part of farc. if they've dismantled farc and if they are either dissidents covered under the new listing or members of a political party who are not part of any sanctioned list, why did we do this? who is not getting money as a result of this, who isn't a part and needs money from the united states that needs to be or is a part of farc? >> in order to carry out the
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development programming with a former member of farc from a legal standpoint the listing is required. >> so it wouldn't have been easier to say you've now joined as you are no longer considered a former, but in that have been easier to do rather than listing a new group to start up tomorrow and say we are the farc. theoretically to not be covered by this. >> the nomenclature is covered in a way that we address this and we name specific leaders of the farc. the structures and sub fronts organizations. >> we could have done the same by naming the political party as opposed to creating all this
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anxiety. >> thank you. senator murphy. thank you for your work and for coming before the committee today. i think it's safe to say that president trump's policy to venezuela was a failure. the administration essentially decided to push all of our ships to the center of the table on the firsthand recognizing the head of many of our allies in the region and assuming that that would lead to the immediate collapse of the regime. that's not what happened, and there was no plan b so we were stuck for the next three years. so you have a lot of work to put together a policy that affect rates american themes in the region. on the question of sanctions, i just want to probe this with you a little bit more, secretary
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because this certainly is a case to be made that our sanctions can be effective, they can begin and punish bad actors, but there is of course a flipside. there's the humanitarian crisis in venezuela today, there's a report from a few years ago suggesting the sanctions have dramatically reduced caloric intake and increased mortality. and a number of other really serious and potentially catastrophic effects on the venezuelan people. it also has a potential, the sanctions do, to provide fuel behind the anti-americanism that is essential to hang onto power. there is no shortage of individuals in venezuela who deserved them. at the same time, there are the humanitarian consequences and
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there frankly isn't a lot of evidence over the course of the last four or five years that the sanctions are actually weakening the regime. so let me ask about how you view both of the upside and downside of the existing sanctions policy and prospect of additional sanctions. >> thank you, senator. the sanctions are in important tool and as secretary robinson said, it's also important to have other tools that we can use to both induce positive behavior and dissuade people from taking improper action. we need to balance all those tools to the greatest extent possible. i think it owes much more to the
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horrible policies of hugo chavez and nicholas maduro which destroyed the economy, healthcare sector and they voted to leave that country so i think those are the sort of root causes of the suffering but i also believe the negotiated the process between the platform and regime is the best way for a process led by venezuelans themselves and we should be flexible and creative and supporting that process. the unconscionable moral leadership of the regime, but the sanctions can be contributory and provide so as
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to blame the economic suffering rather than have it land on his shoulders and i hope that is a consideration that we will way. with respect to gun violence and small arms proliferation in mexico, despite the increased deployments. they continue to rise. the statistics suggest over 70% of the guns recovered originated in the united states and earlier this year they went so far as to file a lawsuit accusing the gun manufacturers of helping to fuel the rise by knowingly flooding mexico with firearms that are designed to end up in the hands of the cartels. what is the administration doing to cut down on the arm straight into mexico?
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>> thank you, senator. that question came up earlier this year. i participated in mexico and we've committed to working, my inner agency partners at dea and fbi and atf to working with mexican officials on the illegal arms trade and flow of arms and money, frankly, from the united states to mexico. i look forward to working with you on that as well. >> senator portman. >> thank you, madam chair and let me say to both of you think you for your service and appreciate your comments today. you've had some good conversations regarding the kidnappings in haiti and i want
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to find out where we are and i do appreciate your personal involvement. for those who don't follow as closely in my home state of ohio, the ministries that have 17 people kidnapped, it happened six weeks ago and typically result in some resolution prior to that time so i'm very concerned about it, two hostages have been released and i guess that is encouraging but of the remaining hostages requiring the state department to work on the basis to coordinate efforts like kidnappings in haiti and do address the broad issue of violence. this criminal gang of 400 i
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believe 41 u.s. persons into u.s. citizens have been kidnapped for ransom in 2021. the embassy team including u.s. law enforcement agencies are cooperating with police authorities to support a
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resolution of this case and the two u.s. citizens have been kidnapped in connection with that case and we hope that there would be a rapid resolution and favorable resolution for the remainder you think that we should be doing and we are not and i would ask you to let me know and we will continue to help however we can expressing our deep concern we have to rely on people on the ground doing the right thing and making sure this is a priority so i think you for that. let me change to another topic.
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i think that it should be the top issue of the bilateral relationship with mexico today. senator murphy mentioned the gun as she was totally related to this issue. cash and drugs and guns are coming back into mexico and that means it's an issue for both mexico and us in a very significant way. here's the crisis and it's pretty extraordinary we've got 100,000 people that died of drug overdoses during the most recent twelve-month period which would be april to april. it's probably worse than that now. that's a record and more people
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combined. the blue line is a number of overdose deaths related to fentanyl. you can see we've gone from 2015 to 2020 and that's fentanyl. let's look at the next chart you can see what's happening. we were told that there is a 42% increase in one month of the fentanyl seizures and. we have a huge crisis and it's not slowing down.
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people have supply chain issues in the country right now. we met with mexican authorities and stressed the importance of the coordinated intelligence operations. to one that takes down the entire networks. better cooperation between mexican authorities and u.s. law enforcement. we've already seen progress in
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that area in terms of closer cooperation, better access for the law enforcement officials and as you know, fentanyl is smaller in size and cheaper to produce and easier to smuggle. it's a tough nut to crack. i worked together on this issue. we are working with our colleagues to defeat this problem. a. >> i appreciate the indulgence and i will follow-up with you on what they specifically are doing and whether it is an item a priority and secretary nichols, thanks again for your personal involvement on the issue. >> thank you, senator portman. senator mccain. >> thank you madam chair and to the witnesses for your service i want to talk about two things. columbia and the northern triangle. i agree on the position the
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first thing we should do is make sure we have strong relations with our allies and shore up democracies. unlike some of my colleagues, i don't have a problem with the biden administrations of the listing of farc. today's the fifth anniversary of the peace deal that was done between the administration and farc, and i would hope that virtually everyone on the committee would view that as a historic achievement. i think the u.s. deserves some significant credit. we were involved in those negotiations. and i think the delisting essentially the five-year anniversary of the peace deal was the right decision. the colombian architect of the negotiation said, quote, for the biden administration, this is a low-cost thing to do. it sends the signal that it's been five years. you've done your bit and behaved properly and we are delisting
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you. the u.s. envoy that was involved in the peace negotiation is one of the finest diplomats, quote, if the groups that were once violent revolutionary groups are never allowed to get off the list that is one lesson for them to make peace. you undermine incentives for other groups to renounce terrorism and violent struggles. so i think the decision to remove farc after five years of participating in a new life and a new chapter in colombian life, that designating groups like the farc, and as far as i know it is still on the terrorist list, so there's three colombian groups that are carrying out terrorist activities that are on the list and i think it's the right thing to do. i just want to start there. let me go to the northern triangle. honduras, guatemala, el salvador, i know none of them have been invited to participate in the summit for democracy next week. nicaragua has not been invited to, haiti hasn't been invited,
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bolivia, venezuela hasn't been invited, cuba hasn't been invited but none of the northern triangle nations we've invested billions and billions of dollars in this region, and yet none of the northern triangle nations have been invited to participate. i will just say parenthetically, with the summit coming up next week, i'm a little bit surprised no 190 in the senate has received any outreach about what we think are the topics that should be brought up in the summit. to be on the senate foreign relations committee and to have surveyed my colleagues here and on the intel committee and armed services committee, has anyone reached out about the summit for democracy and so far everyone's told me know. ..
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>> senator rubio and i wrote a t well and senator merkley had went about the concerns of election in honduras thus far if i read the reports head looks like maybe things are exceeding our expectations. the cow is not yet done, we cannot celebrate prematurely. el salvador has backslid after the first election who is not part of the flm or the right wing death squad groups from the past, promise there must be a new chapter the president of el salvador is like an authoritarian. our best partner in the region, guatemala, has backslid since senator and i were there in july in terms of sacking anticorruption prosecutors.
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that is the reason they've not been invited to participate. this is an import crisis at the border is being driven by instability in the northern triangle, much of the drug trade is being driven by instability and the northern triangle. talk to us about this particular part of the americas and what the biden administration hopes to accomplish. >> thank you very much. it's a good part of the region week, i met with the candidate and every meeting i urge the importance of a peaceful electoral process. talk to the press about that and as you know it appears at this juncture, we have achieved that, let me rephrase that, the honduran people have achieved that with the support of the international community. the region is one that i have
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seen jobs of incomes over the past decade. problems due to climate change, challenges due to gang-related violence in a bubble intense, acute corruption from key leaders and the northern triangle. we are working to address all those issues. i think we made progress in that. but we still have a long way to go and were dealing with entrenched elites, political and economic elites who do not see reform as their friend. we need to push moving carrots and sticks to encourage change. i'm hopeful and honduras that we will see the kind of change that we've been asking. the leading candidate at this
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moment has stated her commitment to attack corruption and deal with the causes and drivers of migration and promote jobs and better income in our country and we look forward to working with her in that regard. >> my time is up, i appreciate the inter alia lid back to the chair. >> think you senator kaine now we have senator young on webex. >> yes chairwoman, thank you so much. >> can return us down a little bit, that is too loud. we are trying to get that done now. sorry go ahead. >> how is that? is that better. thank you so much. ambassador nichols previous ministrations have rightly noted effectively a third quarter with
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the united states. the time i served in the marine corps in the 1990s as a member of joint task force and i was operating on the southern border, working in collaboration with other countries to deal with issues like illegal migration and drug trafficking and at the same time promoting strong trading relationships with countries in the caribbean. were seeing a growing decline in democracy and government in that region. we seen instability in haiti lead to migration and each person descending on their own border, wheezing authoritarian governments throughout the area, cuba in particular, he continued his aversive activities. migration is destabilize many countries and population of economic stagnation and
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uncertainty. mr. ambassador, i want to know how does the administration view the caribbean to use you as a c baseboard with united states customer. >> take you senator the caribbean is a crucial partner in region where we need to stay engaged. the hop onto bahamas alloy 41 miles away from the united states under minor programs.
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>> it's a major challenge, i don't of my colleagues want to add to that? >> absolutely, we know that drug traffickers use the same words, they are moving people and guns and money. they move drugs. we see it as a significant challenge for us. in the threat to our national security. we have, fortunately, a very good relationship with the government and the caribbean. we work very closely with them on training and equipment to help us, help them target those roots and to try to keep the drugs from reaching our shores.
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>> thank you ambassador. >> ambassador nichols i know some of my colleagues have asked questions pertaining to china and how they're seeking to undermine democracy in latin america. this is covered extensively by the shoes report of the economic security review commission. do you believe the u.s. has the capability to counter china's efforts to undermine democracy in latin america, if not, what else do we need so we might counter china's efforts? >> i do think we have the capability but we need to use all the tools available and a development finance corporation is important tool that gives us the ability of support private sector in the region. the kovacs and our efforts to
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survive covid vaccine to countries in the region is vital. our presence in the region is crucial in my travels in meetings with 24 ministers and government something to get all my duties. >> ambassador, i regret, my time is very limited. does the administration have a strategic policy played out for countering china and the region. he just gone through a list, is there register added. >> we are working with the state department and the interagency to sharpen our strategy for the region and is an ongoing process with the department. secretary sherman is leading the effort. >> will be a written work product that you can share with me and other members of the committee. >> yes. >> we will follow-up and receive a timeframe.
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>> senator shaheen. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you for being here today and your ongoing good work. ambassador robinson i would like to begin with you new hampshire, like ohio has a very difficult problem with substance abuse. as i hear from law-enforcement and are dea agents, the majority are coming across the southern border from mexico. i wonder just a follow-up on senator portman's question what specifically are we doing with mexico to address this problem? whatever we have been doing has not been working. >> think you senator, i agree with you. there is nothing more heartbreaking than what drugs like fentanyl is doing to our communities across united states. i was in mexico with my
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colleague for negotiations at the high-level security dialogue. we work very closely with the government of mexico they have agreed with us on a number of things that we were to do including greater cooperation on intel exchange, working more closely with the inner agency and fbi, dea, they just agreed to more visas for dea agents and mexico. one of the aspects that we missed that is not as public his great work that we do, high and elementary agencies with the state and local mexican, state and local governments in mexico.
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they clamor for greater opportunities to cooperate and collaborate on security issues, equipment, training. we are trying to keep up with the demand. the last thing i would say we have some work to do at home on this issue as well. if we cannot get a handle on the demand side for these drugs. >> you don't have to argue that with me i would agree with that and we are working hard and new hampshire and other states to address that. thank you very much. assistant secretary nichols. as a region latin america has the highest rates of violence against women and girls in the world. this is been exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic and exacerbated in venezuela where we see women and girls flee
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backcountry and be subject to sexual assault and other means of gender-based violence. can you talk about what the ministrations policy to help support venezuelan women and girls? >> our goal is to combat sexual and gender-based violence throughout the atmosphere but migrants in particular venezuelan migrants are exceptionally vulnerable to gender-based violence. we work to provide training to first responders. we partner with international organizations for migration and the high commissioner for refugees to provide support and combat gender-based violence. we fund shelters along the migrant route as well in a variety of countries in the
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hemisphere. we work with gender champions and when i was the ambassador peru i was honored who won the international courage award while i was there. >> thank you, we have more work to do. can you speak to the challenges that we face because you don't have ambassadors and a number of latin american countries and what that means for our ability to enact foreign-policy in the best interest of americans. >> it is crucial to the president's personal representative they can deliver tough messages that no one else can. there are highest-ranking officers with the level of understanding and discernment with the washington policymaking. their presence signifies the importance of the relationship
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and will not having an abbasid or should be seen as a flight, that's often how it's perceived. >> something that we need to do everything that we can to move forward in congress. i would like to point out i had a recent case in my office where new hampshire citizens daughter was in the hospital and having real issues with the hospital and after they got a call from the embassy, the attitude in the hospital in the treatment and the family changed dramatically. it's that different that our embassies and ambassadors make not only in latin america but around the world. hopefully we can get these people confirm. >> senator haggerty. >> assistant secretary nichols, good to see you again. during your nomination you committed working with me on this committee to curb illegal immigration and address the root cause of the border crisis. i want to ask you a couple of basic questions, yes or no answers are fine. you agree to solve the border
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crisis the united states needs policy and diplomatic agreement to discourage illegal immigration. >> yes. >> do you agree making it easier to cost of the border and remained in the u.s. encourages people to come here illegally all else being equal. >> we should encourage orderly legal migration. >> i agree with you on that. >> may of 2021 i traveled to guatemala and mexico to meet with officials with long-term strategies to address the border crisis. they told me the key root causes is that the biden administration is sending a message if you cross the board right now you be allowed to stay in the united states. this is been sent because abiding the administration cancel commonsense policies like
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the migrant protection protocol, remaining mexico policy policies the diplomatic agreements with mexico that were hard to go she did with the previous administration. they require persons crossing the border from mexico and seeking asylum in the united states should remain in mexico and not be released into the united states while there asylum claims are being adjudicated. this policy makes sense to me and many others we should not allow people who don't have valid asylum to enter the united states for any period of time. if a migrant nose by crossing the border he or she can achieve indefinite release for years before the asylum is heard were permanently if they decide not to show up. that is enormous to cross the border right now. despite court orders to the contrary the biden administration is trying to terminate the policies and diplomatic agreements. why had the face of illegal immigration is abided administration terminating policies and double medic agreements that would otherwise serve to reduce migrants incentive to illegally cross the border.
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>> the migrant protection protocol is subject to ongoing litigation. the administration is committed to following the law and court orders. i cannot get into this in greater detail due to the ongoing litigation but all know our cooperation with mexico on the full range of migration issues is excellent. the first trip was to 80 and among other things i talked to the prime minister about migration issues and the company secretary blinken to columbia where we had a regional migration conference to address illegal migration to deal with issues with the causes to promote regular migration to attack trafficking network and
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were committed to following up and pushing on issues every day. >> i appreciate the meetings in the conferences but the biden administration is trying to undo diplomatic agreements put in place and working. it's very simple obey the law that is the proper answer. abbasid or i would like to turn to you the fat no problem in the united states is getting worse we talked about this with senator shaheen and portman and tennessee overdose rates individual 25 - 34 has skyrocketed from 4.8100000 in 215237.6 per 100,000 in 2019. every time i hear from local sheriffs is gotten much worse this year. a commercial appeal large newspaper interstate a few days ago interviewed tennessee's opioid and he said i cannot remember the last time i looked at a drug screening of a new patient coming up the street that did not have that novel in it. mexico is a major transit but no coming from china before enters
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the united states. direct shipments have finished endocrine after the trump ministrations cocktail the amount of fat and offer mexico has increased radically. i've been told more than 90% of that crossing the border at least the chemicals comes from china. these drugs are killing americans. assistant secretary robinson, what percentage of fat no coming across the border ultimately originates in china including chemicals. >> a great percentage. i don't have a specific number but i was a great percentage comes from china. >> i'll ask ambassador nichols and robbins. would you commit to putting together an estimate to the committee, how much of the fat no coming from china, what percentage is coming from china whether precursor or fentanyl annually and how much specifically can be traced to china.
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>> thank you. >> senator van hollen. >> thank you both for your testimony in your service. secretary robinson. a question with respect to 80. i understand you had a chapter recently and it's a desperate situation. as i understand it right now gangs control half of port-au-prince hijacking fuel and kidnapping people for ransom. senator portman mentioned the missionaries that were objected, 15 are still being held. what is your proposal of what the united states can and should be doing right now with respect to the situation and 80. >> thank you for that question is very important as you noted i was there two weeks ago. i had a chance in an opportunity to meet with the prime minister.
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the acting minister of justice and the new director general of the police. we have also sent advisors down to assess the situation and made long-term actions that we can take in terms of advising that will directly go after gang leaders for prosecution. either in haiti or the united states. as you know much work obligated than that. there are political parties, their political and economic elites that support the gangs, we know this. we are trying to track the money and we are going to use every putative major that we have two
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go after the elites that are supporting the gangs and to go after the money of these gangs. >> that raises the question as you point out a lot of elites are supporting the gangs. is there a risk of a coup led by the gangs with the support of the elites and what measures are we taking to try to prevent that. >> i don't know if there's a risk. what i should say, there are many risks in haiti today. after the assassination of the president, certainly anything is possible. but we believe if we continue to work with the current government officials. certainly the new director
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general of the police. if we can train them and equip them and give them the foundation that they need to go after the gangs, we will lessen many of the risks. >> i appreciate that. secretary nichols, there was an alarming pole in the economist by reputable organization that showed a big drop in the percentage of latin americans who believe democracy is important to the future. it said 49%, less than half the population. d.c. a number of trends in the region where people are cracking down or independent judiciary and a number of other concerning developments. in the case of brazil hugh have the current president who is essentially stated that he will
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either be killed or a win and the next election, there's been concerns expressed whether or not the elections next year will be free and fair and accurately counted. can you talk a little bit about your assessment of the situation? >> brazil is an important partner, it is a country with whom we have robust dialogue and exchange, national security advisor sullivan has been there, their national security advisor has visited us, will have a number of high level of visited engagement early in the new year. omicron variant for many. one of the topics that we have discussed, democracy in the hemisphere and the importance of jointly working to continue to build democracy in our hemisphere.
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we stress we see challenges in our own nation if you will senator. they need to take steps at the institution can be any test put before them. >> very briefly with respect to the election next year do you expect them to be conducted in a free and fair manner or do you concerns as the president. >> i believe they will be conducted in a free and fair manner. i believe brazil will meet the test. every nation, we seen this in our own country, every nation is to strengthen institutions because it not only weaken by cynicism and corruption on the east side but there also been attacks from outside of our hemisphere very actively. we need to be cognizant of that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator cruz. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you for your testimony.
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mr. nichols i would like to start with mexico, i'm increasingly concerned with the mexican government engaged in a systematic campaign to undermine american companies and especially american energy companies that have invested in our shared prosperity in the future of the mexican people and economy. over the past five months mexican regulators are shut down three privately owned fuel storage terminals. among those they shut down a fuel terminal which is run by an american company based in texas. it transports fuel on ships owned by american companies. this is a pattern of sustained discrimination against american companies. i worry the mexican government ultimate aim is to rollback the country's historic 2013 energy sector liberalization reforms in the favor of mexico mismanaged and failing state owned energy
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cavities. the only way the mexican government is going to slow and reverse a campaign is if the united states government conveys clearly and candidly that their efforts pose a serious threat to our relationship and tortured economic interests. i hope the biden administration is willing to do that. i want to ask you questions about that specifically. what leverage do you believe the united states government has and what leverage should be used to secure a course correction of mexico's behavior. >> we have an incredibly complex and rich relationship with mexico. we have a structure for that relationship under the usmca. the integration of her energy markets in north america in our supply chain and north of america is critical, mexico's largest trading partner and
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thousands and thousands of americans and mexicans cross the border every day as part of the relationship. >> how concerned are you about the mexicans government behavior and am particularly targeting of american companies? >> i don't believe the mexican government is targeting american companies. i think the other point that you made about consolidating the energy sector in public hands rather than private hands is more the issue. >> you believe there targeting all private energy companies execute an american? is that a good thing for america or mexico? >> i believe we need to talk in
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a comprehensive way with her mexican partners about energy security and how the private sector is vital to maintaining energy security. >> let me try again, and your judgment with mexico destroy the private energy sector in mexico and nationalizing throwing out american companies moving everything to the corrupting failing state owned energy companies, would that be a good thing for mexico and a good thing for america? >> is important that we talk to mexico about a future of reliable energy, a future where energy markets can remain integrated for the private sector plays a leading role, particularly in working together to achieve. >> back to see mr. nichols your answers discouraging, if not willing to tell me candidly that mexico nationalizing energy and targeting american companies is a bad thing, then i'm less confident that you will convey that to mexico. let me shift to another country.
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columbia, this morning divided administration removed from the list of foreign terrorist organizations. it's an organization of marxist, leninist, narco terrorist for decades they have killed, kidnapped, distorted columbia spray they murdered and seized american citizens and continue to pose an acute threat to columbia security and american interest across the region. this is sadly part of a pattern of biden foreign policy. when it comes to dealing with terrorists. it is a pattern of appeasement and weakness a pattern with the taliban and the disaster in afghanistan. it's a pattern we see with who these in yemen with abide in the administration lifted sanctions in a pattern that is led to disaster. given it didn't work with who sees him the taliban in afghanistan, what is the
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initiation believe that weakness in appeasement and delisting as terrorists will produce anything but terrible results in columbia. what makes you think weakness toward the terrorist is going to be successful? >> thank you, the administration is focused on the current terror threats. we designated the two active elements carrying out terrorist attacks and continue to have a 10 million-dollar reward for marcus the head of the militia. were focusing on the peace process of five years in and those elements. >> final question, my time is expired. if and when they respond to being delisted with more violence and terrorist, will you commit to coming before the committee and admitting that it
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was a mistake to pretend that they weren't terrorist and it was a mistake for president biden to delisting today? smack i'm available to appear before the committee. >> thank you very much. senator merkley. >> thank you for your service in a particular want to focus on honduras. we have the early returns favoring the libre party and the woman who ran against corruption many people see this as a referendum on corruption. there is a lot of concern that yesterday the county was suspended for ten hours and the county is not disclosed for the national assembly, their congress. we know the nation with military coups in the past including ms. castro's husband who is out to buy acute in 2009. there's an opportunity here and incredible opportunity that the united states has to seize it with both hands and send a
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powerful message that no military coup will be tolerated as one can happen a week from now. the power elites are entrenched to the corruption of the mayors, legislators, police, military, no one should underestimate how difficult it is when this type of corruption permeates every level of authority in the country down to gangs and control industry vendors. it is a possibility but a challenging moment and i would like to hear what majors the state department is taking to make sure there's not a military coup, so that there's not shenanigans that occur within national assembly to undermine her ability to get anything done. i must say i'm impressed that she campaign on restoring the international corruption investigators which was the team
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that started to finally tackle corruption at the highest levels in honduras in the previous president and ally shut down she's posing to bring them back and promising to address it inequality at the foundation of deep deficits proration of millions of hondurans and helps drive migration. when president biden's team talks about root causes, therefore she's talking about root causes. what will we do to make the most of this rare moment of promising opportunity? >> thank you, senator this time last week i was in honduras. i had meetings with the foreign minister in the public security minister, defense minister, chief of defense and talked about the importance of free, transparent elections in the importance of peaceful process where everyone respects the outcome.
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that was the national electoral council talking about their vital role in ensuring a free, fair, transparent and peaceful process. following my meetings with them, the leading candidates put out statements reiterating their commitment to respect results and encouraging supporters to remain patient and peaceful throughout the process. we have embassy observers on the ground in honduras who also partner with organization of american states and there was an eu electoral observation mission that we supported, civil society, broad umbrella effort to observe the election. there are observers who are with the electoral council taking a look at the actual vote counting process. their work, you noted technical issues in the vote count
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process. there are international observers looking at how that's working. >> let me cut to the chase because those conversations were fine and i'm glad you sent those messages. are we conveying that they will be significant powerful consequences if there is a military coup or if the boating count is suspended or corrupted in some form at the last moment to give a new assembly in a new president to enact reforms. if so what is that message we are sending if you are free to share? >> again, my conversation with the leading officials including the defense minister the foreign minister the, the chief of defense and the public security, they reiterated to me their commitment to free, fair elections and respecting the results. if there were some violation of
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that commitment, that would be acceptable. we have the inter-american democratic charter, an organization and we have ample confidence that all parties are going to respect this outcome. >> my time is up, i'll conclude by noting people always give assurances until the military coup starts with accounting is suspended and not resume. i specifically encouraged that we send a very strong message that there will be concrete consequences should this fail to happen which is different than a positive encouragement because we have seen this go off the rails many time before and we should be absolutely there accelerating the return of the international investigators that she has called for as soon as she is in office. i hope the national assembly will be one that she can work with.
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if not not of her reforms will be able to move through. it is extraordinarily frustrating to see how the corruption is infiltrated through every level down to the street level and how difficult to reform and a root causes strategy won't work when a society operates on that complete 100% corruption from top to bottom. >> senator booker is with us virtually. >> thank you, chairman menendez. i appreciate mr. nichols and mr. i want to jump right in, this issue was discussed a little bit earlier but i would like to get back to reports that suggest china and russia are engaging an active propaganda and disinformation campaigns in latin america. they're doing other parts of the world obviously but china and
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russia sought to undermine the democratic values and damaged overall reputation of the united states. i'm wondering what is the state department's global engagement to counter the chinese and russian government for disinformation in latin america and the caribbean? and what more could the jvc do in the future customer. >> thank you, senator. our focus is ensuring that we identify negative messaging trolls are coming from and we work with friendly governments to what the realities are and that we actively message the reality of the situation that we are facing. that we have very direct and comprehensive conversations with governments in the region was civil society and public about the reality with the presence of
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prc, russia and others in the region. we need to offer a positive alternative. whether it is 5g technology or support for infra structure projects, were working to make sure that countries know those alternatives available and we will work with them to put together a package that works for the nation. >> can you be a little bit more specific about the tactics of the gec and what are the activities are doing and what more would you like to see them do. >> the global engagement center both measures public opinion and social media trends throughout the world. the actively work to counter false messages from our
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strategic competitors and they prepare the media products or talking points that are embassies around the hemisphere can used to combat this information. i think they do a great job. obviously it's a huge task. the resources that they have to bring to bear limit the ability to accomplish those goals. i think the doing vital work. >> something really quick i heard one of my colleagues bring up the severe issues that are going on. we are in a state of extreme crisis and the democracy there is really faltering as violence
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is almost epidemic levels at the country. not to mention the challenges of what we seen there. i want to know overall what is your sense of hope in haiti and how effective the u.s. strategy there encountering these natural disasters as well the halter of democracy and the pandemic violence. >> thank you for that question, the situation in haiti is a critical challenge for hemisphere, they faces collapse government institutions, deep political polarization and criminal and gang violence. lack of economic progress. we are working together with our partners around the world to try to support the haitian people at this crucial moment and to promote the haitian led solution to those challenges. that promotion means or advocacy encouragement on the ground. that involves interaction at
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high levels hub secretary blinken another senior officials in washington in collaboration with international partners like canada, france, brazil to support haiti. >> lastly, a few seconds left i continue to be dissatisfied with the level of diversity at the state department. i know there's a lot of good efforts to try to get more diversity and inclusive members and employees of the state department and i myself has worked with other senators to do things from sponsoring programs and other fellowship programs. i'm curious if you have advice for me, especially as i travel the globe and visit with the state department i'm surprised with the lack of diversity do you have any advice of what more we can do to promote diversity. >> i think recruiting is a first
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crucial step to the fellowship programs are vitally important. i think retention is crucial and we have several parallel programs to support retention of a diverse workforce we have senior foreign service officer that led the recruitment efforts per marianne scott who leads a diversity for the inclusion efforts from the front office. works not only to support the and washington but also all over embassies around the world. i think if you talk about the importance of diversity include inclusion and visit with foreign partners i think that definitely helps and i hope you will support our recruiting efforts in the unity universities and colleges around the world. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator markey. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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to you, ambassador nichols. i just want to talk about following up on senator booker's questioning on haiti, i just want to make sure the actions that were taken in haiti aren't solidifying opportunist over the interest of the haitian people and i saw you met with representatives of the montana group of haitian citizens and civil society leaders in late september. what were your takeaways from the meeting in terms of how the united states should move forward with an inclusive haitian led focus policy. >> my number one take away, number one the importance of security we need better security to get the free and fair elections in haiti and were a long way away from that. the role of civil society in the broadest construct private sector, nongovernmental organization is vital.
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bringing together a broad set of actors to agree on a way forward without an artificially imposed timeline from the national community is also vital. those would be my main takeaways. >> i urge you to continue to reach out to the civil society leaders in haiti, ultimately they have the vision which is going to be necessary to change the underlying historical dynamic, thank you for your good work. let's continue to focus upon that community of leaders who are risking their lives every day to try to provide for long-term vision for what has to happen there. it's yes, sir. >> absolutely senator. >> on the subject of climate change the science is clear on the fact that climate change is an underlying driver of
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widespread humanitarian crisis in displacement throughout latin america and the caribbean. i reintroduce legislation this year end aims to create a u.s. resettlement pathway for climate displays persons given the united states outside responsibility of global warming. still the majority of the co2 is red, white and blue after 200 years of leading the industrial revolution. i was glad to hear my persistent calls for action on this topic there is now a national security council enter agency working out aiming to find solutions to issues of climate migration. do either of you have anything more you can share in the progress of the interagency working group and what potential solutions might be offered. >> thank you, sir editor. i have not participated directly in that specific conversation but i tell you climate change
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and its effects on the countries in our hemisphere is a central concern that i have. i had the pleasure of participating with vice president harris and her meeting him barbados, that was a key topic in the conversation. we are integrating climate issues and to all of our diplomatic engagement throughout the hemisphere and we are actively focused on mitigation measures for those states most at risk as well as adaptation particular in the energy sector. >> i would urge you to continue to say very engaged on this important issue. we have to tackle the issues of climate resiliency and solutions for climate displays persons which will increase each year going by. in doing that we are working on one of the underlying drivers of
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mass migration coming out of latin america of what we know the caribbean. i just thursday to continue to elevated as an issue and drive it at the national security council as an issue that has to be addressed and into all the resulting issues that are consequence of our long-term ignoring of the climate crisis. >> absolutely, senator. >> senator, i would add it is even more broad than that, economic and environmental degradation from narcotics trafficking throughout the region is also a major problem and we are both working very closely with our partners in the region we see the effects of illegal mining and the effects of runoff from waste from drug
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trafficking or drug production areas in mexico and in columbia were working to raise as well. >> think you both for your great work. >> let me have a final closing questions. let me start off with haiti. a lot is been discussed here is the one thing you don't understand haiti is a challenge number one because the suffering of the haitian people of natural and man-made disasters. it is destabilizing to its neighbor that it shares the island with the dominican republic. we have seen hip one is facing the challenges that haitian citizens are facing fleeing the island is a desirable alternative. that means migration in the hemisphere and the united
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states. these are real tangible challenges refacing right now. i heard your answers of her overall goal of the haitian led democratic process. when doctors without borders are closing up because the cake if you will to operate their circumstances and i'm getting calls from orphanages that american farms want to close up the orphanage and bring the children to the united states because they can't secure them when people are sequestered and kidnapped. it seems none of that can happen in terms of aspiration for haiti unless there is security. what is our initiative to create some semblance of security so all these other things can happen. >> think you senator that is a great question. as i mentioned before is a completed issue.
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we in l are working with the haitian police and the director general and we will send advisors. when i was there two weeks ago they asked for greater ability to get police around the city i should've 19 vehicles, 200 new protective vest for the police. the 19 with the first installment of a total of 60 that we will deliver to the haitian national police. we will get advisors to work with the swat team to take back the areas that have been taken for ordinary haitians. it will be a process and it's going to take some time. >> first of all the haitian national police institution capable of delivering the security that haitians deserve?
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>> we believe it is as an institution we have worked with in the past. there was a small brief moment where haitians actually acknowledge the haitian national police have gotten better and more professional. our long-term goal is to bring it back to that. >> how much time before we get security on the ground. >> i can't say exactly where working as fast as we can. >> months, years? >> i would hope we can do it in less than months but were working as fast as we can. >> is a problem i don't understand to seek you in action to try to create stability. when the gangs control the ports and everything that you try to get to with the haitian people are stopped at the ports because the gangs control it, something is wrong how do you do all the things to help the haitian people, at the end of the day
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you cannot get to the gangs. >> we are absolutely going to need as you rightly point out we will need the help of international organizations. we were a little bit stymied just recently when we try to extend the mandate of the current group of police advisors. we wanted to get them extended for a year but we were blocked by russia and china and they were only able to be extended for nine months. it is going to take a collective effort. >> why do you think russia and china stopped us? >> they want total unrest in hemisphere. the whole purpose in this hemisphere is creating instability, it is to move people to a point of democracy does not work, let me try something else authoritarianism. they systematically work at a. at some point we have to think about how we circumvent that.
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secretary nichols. in the trafficking persons before the state department, cuban doctors were listed as a group of people who are trafficked, is that correct? >> that is correct. >> winning entity, the pan american health organization uses cuban doctors in a way that allows them to be trafficked shouldn't we be doing something to change that? >> we have had a strong conversation with the leadership about the unacceptable nature of that relationship. we have talked about the importance of better governance and oversight within the organization and in order for us to work with them we need to be assured that something like that could never be repeated. >> they continue, right now cuban doctors are being used inside of mexico and away in
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which there being traffic. i understand that trafficking in persons by a country ultimately is a violation of the usmca. >> we talked to all countries about the reality of the cuban medical missions program and it is a massive trafficking risk and we encourage countries to avoid it. it is an abuse of cuban people and its misguided attempt to provide healthcare. >> when a country engages knowing that. there has to be some type of consequence. for those who are viewing
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understand what were talking about, cuba send doctors to different countries in the world. ultimately those countries pay the cuban government for the service of those doctors and those doctors get a fraction of their wages and their passports are taken away so they cannot leave. that is human trafficking and is being done right here in our hemisphere with international organizations and done with countries where supposedly we have a relationship with like mexico. there has to be consequences or else we are complicit in the trafficking. let me ask you with reference to nicaragua and el salvador, we
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can agree in case of nicaragua we have a dictatorship arising in the case of el salvador with dramatic backsliding. >> both are part of dr captive. should we suspend them as a strong action to be taken so we can hopefully turn the tide? >> i think we should think about all the tools that we have available to us. there is an urgency to demonstrate to countries in the region that actions have consequences. the ability of countries to flaunt their own constitutions and their own laws and abuse their own citizens is a huge problem when we should use every tool available. >> one of the strongest tools is to take away trade preferences. we interviewed our captor, it was not with countries that were moving in the opposite direction from democracy. they were moving towards democracy and moving towards our respect for human rights and
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moving towards a respect for the rule of law they should not be able to benefit from trade preference when they go in the opposite direction. that is a strong action the administration can take and i recommend it. let me ask secretary robinson while the united states is traditionally stood with principal activist and public officials that seek to reverse democratic backsliding and combat kleptocracy and a hold of a rule of law. they face significant threat of a result of their work and flee when it comes untenable and they finish their term in office. i know you're familiar with these dynamics. what more do see that estates need to support those individuals who stand against efforts to undermine democratic governors. how can we address the challenge and central american countries where the problem is acute. >> thank you, senator.
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erie. with these organizations e need to find more flexible and creative ways to support a civil society and independent media so it's not easy to make them flee when they stand up and do the
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right thing for democracy, for investigating corrupt acts. i look forward to working with you all on finding these flexible and creative ways to do that. we need to be more vigorous on protecting and offering a safe haven for those who do have two flee. it's a cumbersome process now. there are at least four courageous people from guatemala that are being hosted here and others in the region. to figure out more efficient ways that we can offer some semblance of safety.
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>> let me say there's one less person to try to create a change and so at the end of the day we have to find ways to strengthen their hand to create international spotlights on what they are doing to make it more difficult for the regime's to threaten them and cause them to leave. for them for the regime that is ultimately a success story. the reason they are not working now is because they touched people in those countries in power who'd never been touched before and i think if we can look at that again, we might
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have some more success. >> finally, where is the idea for this listing coming from? >> it's been something under discussion since at least the previous administration. it was always contemplated as the peace accord and the administration reached an agreement. more recently who drove the question of the listing? >> it was already well advanced so i can't say who the specific driver was. it was always a component of the
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peace process and updating the threats that we face. >> and delisting those that have and are following a peaceful pass to integration into in the society, but this is an example about consultation versus notification and my notice was to "the wall street journal." that is not what i consider consultation and the lack of getting that consultation creates problems so hopefully we don't relive it again. this hearing record will remain open to the close of business tomorrow and we would like your
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answers to be expeditious and with that and thinks to the committee, the hearing is adjourned. [ina
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