Citing a need for greater cooperation in the future, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, is attending the three-day Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Columbia, to discuss trade opportunities and the war on illicit drugs.
Bono Mack is part of a U.S. delegation that includes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Ambassador Michael McKinley and eight members of Congress. As part of the activities planned for the sixth Summit of the Americas, Bono Mack will be meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Miranda, Guatemalan President Perez Molina, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The first Summit of the Americas took place in 1994 and has been held periodically since then to discuss critically important issues facing nations in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Over the years, these summits have led to increased cooperation between nations on issues relating to trade, security and economic opportunities.
In 2009, leaders in the Summit agreed on the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, designed, among other things, to provide greater security for all citizens of the Western Hemisphere and to reduce illicit drug trafficking. But since then, Bono Mack says drug violence has escalated in many countries, resulting in thousands of deaths and jeopardizing the spread of democracy.
"Nothing threatens the future prosperity of nations of the Western Hemisphere more than the rapid proliferation of narcotrafficking, and the senseless violence that accompanies it," said Bono Mack. "It's vitally important for the nations of the Americas to work closely together to stem the tide against illicit drugs. What's happening in the streets of Bogota affects the streets of Los Angeles. We are more than just neighbors -- we are also partners in the war against drugs and crime. We're in this together."
During her official three-day visit, Bono Mack -- as Chairman of the House Subcommittee with jurisdiction over trade -- will also be meeting with foreign leaders and American business leaders to discuss expanded U.S. trade opportunities. Bono Mack said the recently ratified trade agreements with Panama and Columbia will create tens of thousands of new jobs in America and open up a wealth of new business opportunities for U.S. companies.
"One of my top priorities has been to make "Made in America' matter again. What better way to do that than to expand trade opportunities with our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere. Today, nearly a billion people live in the Americas and, as democracy spreads, I believe high-quality U.S. goods will be more and more in demand if we can foster cooperative trade agreements. This summit provides us with the opportunities to begin laying that groundwork."
The Summit of the Americas began today with a breakfast with Secretary of State Clinton and runs through Sunday.