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Bono Mack Meets With Presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Panama

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Location: Washington, DC

Following a weeklong series of meetings with key political, business and labor leaders in three Latin American countries, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, today urged the Obama Administration to "quit stalling" and send pending free trade agreements to Congress for passage.

Bono Mack, who has held three hearings already this year focused on creating new jobs, was part of a bipartisan congressional delegation which visited Colombia, Panama and Mexico to discuss trade, security issues and the war on drugs. In her role as subcommittee chairman, Congresswoman Bono Mack has jurisdiction over international trade, among other things. According to the Heritage Foundation, it's estimated that new trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea will increase U.S. gross domestic production (GDP) by $15 billion and create nearly 100,000 new jobs in America.

After meeting earlier this week with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and later with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, Congresswoman Bono Mack said she's encouraged by the progress both countries have made in addressing labor and human rights concerns.

"It's time to move all of these long-stalled free trade agreements forward," Bono Mack said. "I am convinced that we can create tens of thousands of desperately-needed jobs in our nation by expanding U.S. exports through these very carefully negotiated agreements. We simply can't afford to sit on the sidelines any longer while other nations gain footholds in promising, new global markets."

Today, Congresswoman Bono Mack wrapped up her week of diplomatic visits by meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in Mexico City at Los Pinos, the President's official residence and office. Bono Mack led a lengthy discussion on issues of critical importance to Californians, including border security, drug smuggling and trade. Bono Mack said Mexico's President is committed to improving relations between the two countries.

"While we have many issues which need to be further discussed and eventually resolved, I believe that President Calderon is committed to working with us -- as a friend and a neighbor -- to bridge the gap that often separates our two nations," Bono Mack continued. "President Calderon especially understands the importance of engaging on issues which all too often spark tensions along the border, especially narcotrafficking. But I walked away impressed by his spirit of cooperation and dedication to improving relations."

Later in the day, Congresswoman Bono Mack also had an in-depth discussion about drug smuggling and border violence with Attorney General Marisela Morales, a longtime, highly-respected organized crime prosecutor who recently became Mexico's first ever female attorney general.

Bono Mack said all of the foreign leaders she met with this week recognize the importance of working with the United States -- not just on trade issues -- but, even more importantly, on escalating security threats throughout the region.

"In a world where terrorists and drug dealers know no boundaries, it's more important than ever for the United States and its neighbors to maintain strong and lasting relations. We are not only bound by our cultures, but also our strong, mutual beliefs in the importance of freedom and democracy."


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