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Public Statements

Expressing Support For People of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador After Tropical Storm Agatha

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today as a proud cosponsor of House Resolution 1462, which expresses the support of the United States to the people of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Agatha.

Having already declared a state of emergency following a volcano eruption just 50 miles from Guatemala City days earlier, Guatemala was hit by Tropical Storm Agatha on May 29, 2010. Floods and mudslides devastated parts of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as a result of the storm. Hundreds of lives were lost, hundreds of thousands of survivors left in shelters.

Immediately following this disaster, as we always do, the United States, as a government and as a people, was standing by to lend a helping hand. The United States Southern Command, SOUTHCOM, located in my home district in Miami, Florida, deployed four helicopters from Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras to conduct aerial assessments and transport emergency relief supplies to areas impacted by the disaster.

The ability of SOUTHCOM to utilize resources from the Soto Cano Air Base demonstrates the important role that Honduras plays in enabling the United States to provide support for security and disaster purposes. SOUTHCOM also sent personnel from Miami to join a humanitarian assessment team on the ground in Guatemala. And I was proud to see Royal Caribbean Cruises, also of Miami, work with the Pan American Development Foundation to help transport food to the tens of thousands of survivors in the days following the storm.

The growing security challenges facing Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as a result of narcotraffickers and vicious gangs have only been complicated by this recent natural disaster. It will be critical for the United States to work with responsible democratic nations in the region to ensure that this does not become a window of opportunity for criminals.

The success we have seen in Colombia and the ongoing efforts being taken in Mexico against the drug cartels have created an unfortunate sandwich effect in Central America. But only through a united hemispheric-wide approach that is based on a shared commitment to democracy, to security, to prosperity, will we achieve success against the narcotraffickers and organized crime.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who suffered as a result of Tropical Storm Agatha. As the brave people of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador continue to recover from this tragic disaster, please know that we have you in our hearts and in our prayers.

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