Congressman Rivera spoke before the Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce at the organization's luncheon on Thursday about the passage of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
The House of Representatives passed the free trade agreements on October 12th and President Barack Obama signed them into law on Friday.
"Last week the Colombia Free Trade Agreement was approved and here I have the evidence and documentation of that approval, that vote on the floor of the House of Representatives" Congressman Rivera said to the group of more than 200 assembled holding a printout of the roll call vote in his hand.
"We never would've thought three to six months ago that we were going to achieve the strong support that we received on the floor of the House. The vast majority of Republicans and many of our Democrat colleagues helped us get this result on the vote for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Here I have a document that includes the final roll call vote results. Roll call 781, HR 3078 recorded vote on October 12, 2011 at 6:04 p.m.. Votes in favor 262. Votes against 167.
"Thanks to all of you, congratulations to all of you for all that you did to achieve this great victory on the floor of the House and later in the Senate as well. In Congress we did work in favor of this effort, but I see so many people here in this audience, at this event that fought day after day, year after year, because it has been five years that we've been in this fight. It took almost a thousand days for President Obama to finally send the Colombia Free Trade Agreement to the House of Representatives, and we approved it in nine days.
"The reason that we were able to approve it is that my colleagues, be it Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart or Marco Rubio. My colleagues in the House of Representatives and in the Senate recognize the importance of those bilateral ties with Colombia, our best ally in Latin America, which represents thousands and thousands of jobs for our community, for our state and for our country.
"This was not just an economic issue for this country, which is already so important because it creates thousands of much-needed jobs in this very difficult economic time we are experiencing, but it is also a national security issue for our country since Colombia has always been there with us fighting against terrorism and narco-trafficking and in favor of democracy and liberty. It was right and just that we achieved approval of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement and that you all achieved this victory of 262 versus 167 votes. Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for having me."