Washington, D.C., February 19, 2010 – Guatemala President Alvaro Colom praised U.S. cooperation with Latin American countries on fighting drug trafficking, and said he welcomed further progress on related issues.
"We see the will and the conditions to move forward with the Merida Initiative beyond the topic of security because drug trafficking has many facets, including social issues," Colom said.
Colom discussed his outlook on U.S.-Guatemala relations during an exclusive interview on Foro Interamericano, VOA's weekly Spanish news magazine.
The Merida Initiative, signed in 2007, provides equipment and training in support of law enforcement operations and technical assistance to promote the professionalization of Latin American partners' security agencies. In 2008, Congress approved an initial $400 million for Mexico and $65 million for Central America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
"The United States is our great partner, not only in commerce but also in the fight against drug trafficking and with our immigrants," Colom said. "This relationship we want to improve and improve permanently because it is good for the region."
Guatemala is not only concerned about inter-hemisphere relations. Colom spoke about Guatemala’s growing international relationships, including those with non-traditional trading partners China and Russia.
He said Guatemala is not interested in advancing relations with Iran, though. "In the case of Iran, we have been very cautious not to foster a relationship," he said.
Foro Interamericano (Inter-American Forum) is a 60-minute weekly TV discussion forum on current issues in the United States and the world. The program features news and interviews with high-level policy makers, along with roundtable discussions with journalists. The program airs Fridays at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 UTC). All VOA Spanish programs are available online at www.VOANews.com/Spanish.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.