Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) returned from the Summit of the Americas in Colombia encouraged by President Obama's diplomatic outreach to other leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean. Rep. Engel was invited by President Obama to be part of his official delegation at the Summit and joined him on Air Force One flying to and from Colombia. The 12-term Congressman is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"It is vital to our national security to be engaged in our own hemisphere and to participate in such key regional gatherings. Our eyes have been focused elsewhere in the world -- on two wars, on the Middle East peace process, North Korea, etc. -- but we must continue to forge a closer relationship with our neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean. If we fail to engage, we only undercut our interests and those of our partners in the region. We cannot allow that to happen -- we need Latin America and the Caribbean just as much as they need us.
"The Western Hemisphere faces many common regional challenges, from drugs and crime to poverty and social inequality, to promoting jobs and economic growth. President Obama's mere presence at the Summit proves that he understands the importance of the region. I was honored to join President Obama in Colombia this weekend, and I hail his efforts in making the Western Hemisphere a priority," said Rep. Engel, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.