Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno at a Press Availability
MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE
JULY 20, 2019
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) So we’re thanking all the delegations from the United States and the Republic of Ecuador here with us. And I just wanted to remind you that this declaration has been handled through our presidency of the republic and through Radio Nacional del Ecuador.
We would like to first give the floor to the Secretary of State from the United States, Mr. Mike Pompeo.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Great. Gracias. Thank you. Mr. President, it’s an honor for me to be here in Ecuador for my first visit as Secretary of State, and I want to thank you, President Moreno, and I want to thank Foreign Minister Valencia and the people of Ecuador for their hospitality on this visit. I’ve said this time and time again as Secretary of State: America proves our commitment by showing up, and we will continue to be here and continue to show up. My travels this week continue the Trump administration’s work of strengthening our ties with partner countries in the Western Hemisphere. That work wouldn’t be complete without a visit here to Ecuador, where our bilateral relationship is coming back to life thanks to some extraordinary leadership on both sides. We commend Ecuador’s renewed embrace under President Moreno of free markets, of robust security, and of democracy. It’s what the Trump administration hopes from all of our friends and we see it here every day.
Before President Trump and President Moreno entered office in 2017, there hadn’t been a bilateral dialogue between our two countries in eight years. In May we formally launched expanded bilateral political dialogue to strengthen operations on areas ranging from counternarcotics to anticorruption to economic development.
This cooperation is bearing fruit for each of our two countries already. Take – a good example is narcotrafficking. Through the maritime patrol aircraft partnership launched in September, our authorities have jointly seized more than 24 tons of drugs in the Eastern Pacific. That’s 24 tons that can’t be used to poison our peoples and finance criminal behavior. We’ve also worked closely together through our container security initiative to exchange information about illicit shipments transporting the port in this very city. We’re working to starve these criminal gangs of their illicit income and promote prosperity.
As another sign of our continued good work together, just in a handful of weeks now, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan plans to visit Ecuador to deepen our border security cooperation. And we’re also working together in the cyber realm. In just a few days the U.S. will send cybersecurity experts to Ecuador to help defend its networks against intrusion.
We had a great visit here today. President Moreno and I had a chance to talk about a wide variety of topics, from the crisis in Venezuela to many others. Ecuador, like many of its Latin American peers, are standing for democracy and unalienable rights in our hemisphere. I expressed my personal appreciation, President Moreno, for your country’s support of Interim President Guaido and your leadership in addressing the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. I know that Ecuador is bearing a burden here and has hosted more than 350,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees. This is a truly heroic number. We’re proud that the United States so far has provided more than $30 million in humanitarian assistance and then an additional 5 million to help with the influx of Colombian refugees that you’re also welcoming.
Further, just a few weeks – a few weeks ago, for the second time in just nine months, we sent a U.S. Navy hospital ship to visit Ecuador to provide medical care to over 8,000 patients, Ecuadorians and Venezuelans alike.
This only scratches the surface of what we’ve achieved over these past two years and it’s a preview, I know, of what we will continue to do together. The Trump administration is grateful to have a friend, President Moreno, like you in Ecuador. You have helped this nation turn a corner towards greater security, prosperity, and indeed, to a stronger democracy. We look forward to a bright future and an enduring partnership. Gracias.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much for the Secretary of State, Mr. Mike Pompeo.
Next, the president – the constitutional president of Ecuador will take the floor. Thank you.
PRESIDENT MORENO: (Via interpreter) Well, good afternoon, everyone. We have received the pleasant trip by the Secretary of State from the United States and his distinguished delegation, who we have done it the Ecuadorian style and given them the most heartfelt welcome. We’ve spoken with Mr. Pompeo regarding the appreciation that the U.S. Government has concerning what is happening in Ecuador, and he has expressed all of his support on behalf of the U.S. Government to what is being done here in Ecuador concerning the changes that Ecuador is doing concerning security and economy and the fight against drug trafficking and regarding democracy.
I just wanted to give you an idea of all the topics that we have addressed, and we have addressed some deeply and some maybe not so much, but I just wanted to state that concerning the fight against corruption, we have spoken with Mr. Pompeo and his delegation regarding the recovery of assets and the extradition of people who have been judged and condemned for corruption practices in Ecuador.
Concerning the economy, trade, and exports to the U.S., we are always at the expectation that the U.S. Government will help us so all investors would come here to this very important country that is very much developed in the scientific area and technology and of course many of which we have to – a lot to learn from. So we’ve talked about the maintenance of the general preference issues and a possible commercial trade agreement that we would have to address. And furthermore, that it’s also important to strengthen the meeting that will be held in a few months of that investment council and trade that was not in force for quite some time now.
Concerning human mobility, we have spoken about the need that we be supported to fully comply with the rights that our migrant brothers and sisters have, and also to foster recognition of the academic titles of Ecuador in the United States.
Now, concerning security and defense, we have stated that Ecuador has consolidated a tenacious fight against drug trafficking. It’s not an easy task, we all know, but we’re nevertheless doing it. And we have stated the need of the support that we require in technology and that – and the knowledge that our U.S. brothers and sisters have regarding the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime.
Now, furthermore, we know that the world is turning more virtual evermore, and we require having mechanisms that are more efficient to be able to maintain security, and advice on cybersecurity is going to be very important, my dear friend Mr. Pompeo, Secretary Pompeo, because in Ecuador we don’t have development concerning cybersecurity. So we do need to be consulted on this.
And concerning cooperation on development, let’s recall that we have also renewed our relationship with USAID and we’re expectant of all the support that they can give us concerning so that we can strengthen the exercise of rights of our citizens in programs such as Las Manuelas and House for All, Casa para Todos.
So thank you very much, Mike. Thank you very much, all the delegation. And thank you, Mr. Ambassador, who has always been attentive to help us and give us a hand, just as he did with the previous ambassador with whom we created a great friendship that without a doubt we’re going to continue with you, Mike.
So I thank everyone for having been present here today and, Mike and your delegation, please, always welcome to Ecuador.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) I would like to give the spokesperson from the United States, Ms. Morgan Ortagus, and Mr. Felipe Espinosa, director of public relations of the press secretary of Ecuador, who will give us a Q&A session.
MS ORTAGUS: Thanks. We’ll start with Karen DeYoung, Washington Post.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary and Mr. President. Mr. Secretary, to start, you said yesterday that in Venezuela Nicolas Maduro was never going to govern again in Venezuela. There have been some reports of progress in the Oslo negotiating process and particularly in the negotiations that have been underway in Barbados, and there seems to be discussions of Maduro remaining in the country at least during a transition period. If the opposition agrees to that, would the United States accept it, that he would be allowed to stay in the country perhaps as a figurehead role, or does he have to leave the country as you’ve often said in the past?
And on Iran, despite the events of the past few days in the Straits of Hormuz, last week brought some glimmers of a possible U.S.-Iran talks. Yesterday you said that Iran continues to say it wants to talk, but only if the United States does something. Is there anything the administration can or will do as a gesture to get Iran to come to the table?
And I have a question for the president. Should I say that now? Mr. President, you mentioned USAID and other forms of assistance that would be welcome here. Obviously Ecuador has had an extensive economic relationship with China, as do many in the region, both in terms of investment and in loans. I wonder to what extent you discussed that and the United States expressed concern about this and offered to help Ecuador in changing the balance of its economic posture vis-a-vis China, and also whether the United States offered any additional assistance to care for the rising number of Venezuelan refugees here. Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Karen, thank you. With respect to Maduro staying, it seems incomprehensible that you could have a free and fair election with Maduro still in Venezuela on the ground. I don’t want to rule out the possibility that someone could find a clever way to do that, but it seems that to the extent that you have the Cubans protecting Maduro, they would not be able to deliver a free and fair election. So without prejudice to what’s taking place in Barbados or Oslo or whatever discussions may be – may have been held, the United States has been very clear it is inconceivable that you could have an election that would truly represent the Venezuelan people with Maduro still present inside of the country.
And then your second question was a bit of a hypothetical about could one dream up something that one might do in order for the Iranians to engage with the United States. In the end, the Iranians have to – the Iranian regime has to make a decision that it wants to behave like a normal nation, and if they do that we’re prepared to negotiate across a broad spectrum of issues with no preconditions. And I hope that they will do that. We’ve done everything we can to create the space for this, to continue to take actions that are deterrents and de-escalation so we can have this opportunity. But to date we have seen no indications that the Iranians are prepared to fundamentally change the direction of their nation, to do the things we’ve asked them to do on their nuclear program, their missile program, their malign behavior around the world. I mean, you can just watch their actions. These are actions that threaten. We saw the statements of Foreign Minister Hunt. I spoke to him yesterday. We saw their actions. These are not the actions of a country that looks like it’s headed in the right direction, but we hope, as President Trump has said, that they will sit down and discuss each of these items with us.
Thank you, Karen.
PRESIDENT MORENO: (Via interpreter) Madam journalist, thank you very much for your question. I wasn’t very equal with you because you’re making a question to Mr. Pompeo and you made four to me. (Laughter.)
All right. I just wanted to begin with the issue of Venezuela. We have spoken with Mr. Pompeo and his delegation concerning this exodus, this diaspora that leads to catastrophe and the social apocalypse that this brethren country is undergoing. We cannot remain without being affected by it. Five hundred thousand Venezuelans have gone out Venezuela and they have been treated as brothers and sisters. Now, you may understand that to provide schooling and healthcare, employment and nutrition to 500 new brothers and sisters is difficult to do, and we’ve required and we will require the help of all the world powers like the U.S. to give us a hand, and they are doing so. The only thing that we’re waiting for is a greater support to help us to overcome this issue.
Now, I spoke with Mr. Pompeo how difficult it is for democracy in Venezuela the fact that 5 million Venezuelans have chosen to leave the country, and that without a doubt helps the consolidation in power of the gang, if you will, that is leading Venezuela. It helps them. I will never refer to Mr. Maduro as a president because he’s not. He is a person that he stopped being the president of Venezuela, and we have recognized as such as Mr. Juan Guaido. He is the president. The other one is exercising authoritarianly and dictatorially the power there, but at a given point he’s going to have to leave and the very Venezuelan people will find the way to do so.
So concerning the organizations and institutions such as USAID, it’s difficult for me to think that we could have done away with the help that these organizations are lending for the development of the country.
Now, you were also asking, madam journalist, if we have spoken about our relationship with China. Yes, we have. Before, unfortunately, the relations began to be established as directed by ideologies that we called 21st century socialism, that out of social didn’t really – didn’t have anything and out of modernity or development as would a century like the 21st century demand. There is nothing to it. And we have refreshed the relations with the countries, with all of them. We are friendly with all of the countries in the world, but of course we will prefer those countries with whom we have a better relationship, many other things in common, as we have spoken with the distinguished delegation of the United States who has arrived here. We have spoken of the amount of things that we have in common.
Now, we think a little more and they also think about more as the people from the U.S., because with them concerning our thoughts, we don’t only have the continuity of having them as neighbors to which Ecuadorians travel to frequently – let’s not forget that in the U.S. we have to have maybe 2-3 million Ecuadorians or descendants thereof there – and so given continuity and being close by, we are definitely destined to become countries that are working together as brothers and sisters.
Now, of course the relationship with China is a very good one. China is our greatest lender and he is the – it’s the country that has delivered more money and funds to Ecuador. We don’t have a lot of agreement concerning the terms or the interest rates that for a country as Ecuador would receive interest, financing for its development with very high interest rates and very short terms for facilities. It really squeezes us concerning the issue that we have at hand, as Mr. Pompeo says, to progress our country and to go back to institutionality and democracy. In other words, relations with China are very good ones but we will always be depending, as with all the countries in the world, on having a cordial, friendly relationship, but at the same time to state our differences, our divergences concerning how we hold international relations.
We hope that the U.S. and China, the greatest powers in the world now, will find agreement easily because, unfortunately, when the big ones are discussing or fighting and have conflicts, the ones that are paying for all of that are the smaller countries. Now, when two elephants fight, the ones who lose are the insects who are of course being crushed by the elephants in the attempt to evade them. So we’re hoping that relationship to be cordial once again, just as we have gone back to cordiality with this, our brethren country of the U.S.
MR ESPINOSA: (Via interpreter) Last question on behalf of the Ecuadorian press, Yury Garcia from Reuters.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. My question is directed to you regarding the topic of what is the interest that the U.S. will have with Ecuador with the Galapagos Islands to combat the issue of drug trafficking, and furthermore, the issue of corruption. What regulations or shall we say recommendations would the U.S. give to Ecuador to combat the corruption acts in Ecuador? And what degrees of information do you have that an espionage center was being handled in the embassy of Ecuador in London?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you for that question. With respect to counter – well, with respect to the Galapagos Islands, the president invited me there and I took him up on it immediately.
With respect to narcotics, the United States has a deep interest in this as do the people of Ecuador. This drug trafficking leads to corruption, it leads to crime. There’s no good that can come from that. Many of these drugs end up in the United States of America in the hands of our citizens and wreak devastation across the United States of America. So we have a shared interest in pushing back against it and finding ways to reduce the narcotics trafficking that comes through the waters off the coast of Ecuador and indeed through the country itself.
And second, with respect to corruption, President Moreno has made enormous strides and we credit him for that. Our mission is to where – your country requested to provide assistance so that we can help use tools that we have developed that can assist Ecuador and the Ecuadorian people so that the level of corruption here can go down. Every citizen across the world, and certainly here in Ecuador, deserves to know that their government is operating in a fair and transparent and reasonable way without corruption, without government leaders taking money. And so we’ll do our best. We’ll work best – we’ll work with your department of interior to identify those who have engaged in corruption and help return those moneys to the citizens of Ecuador to whom they rightfully belong.
PRESIDENT MORENO: (Via interpreter) Thank you. We really need that. I don’t know if we need to add anything about this madam journalist’s question from Reuters. I wanted to say yes, that yes, in truth we have been working with the U.S. Government and their representatives regarding the drug trafficking fight, and we’ve requested further help, more effectiveness. Let’s recall that in the U.S. there are many people that have been sentenced here in corruption cases, and nevertheless we haven’t been able to extradite them given the particular characteristics that the U.S. justice has. We’re going to try to improve upon that relationship and those decisions.
Now, erroneously some journalists have stated that in the Galapagos there is a new base is being set up for the U.S., a U.S. base there. That’s not true. That’s not true. But we will consider that the fight against drug trafficking that is done essentially at sea, it’s necessary for the aircraft that the U.S. Government has provided to Ecuador to be able to detect the drug trafficking loads. It’s important for them to have a place to land and to of course fuel up, and that’s the only thing that is happening. The only thing that those planes are doing is to land and to reload fuel, et cetera, to continue flying and nothing else at all.
Now, concerning this espionage center that you asked something that perhaps our dear colleague, Secretary Pompeo, maybe was interested about. Now, there was somebody who was making fun of the country. It’s very decisive about what he was thinking about the government in our country and, moreover, it was providing, was welcoming, he was supporting, and nevertheless at a particular moment he had even smeared the walls with human feces in the Ecuadorian embassy. I’m sorry to say this but – and this unwillingness to stay in an embassy that is Ecuadorian territory being of course welcome and tolerated, excessively at a moment.
The Ecuadorian Government decided to leave aside that welcome, that refuge that we had provided to him, and Mr. Assange now is responding at this moment before justice. And so we have all the necessary evidence that the room where he was living, Mr. Assange, was become – had become a center for espionage to be able to observe, to be able to detect through hacking some defense elements of the economy, politics, on behalf of our brother and sister countries. And we know that in our rules to provide refuge is the rule against being able to intervene in neighboring countries’ policies, and intervening and providing information that was really distorted and even directed elsewhere. Because you know it’s so strange, there are some countries and politicians to which Mr. Assange, a supposed journalist, was – a journalist he never was. He was just a hacker. Mr. Assange would provide information directed, once again, from politicians in other countries, and he never wanted to give that information about the previous president. Isn’t that strange? But of the current president of course he is going all out to provide all kinds of information, even hurting any basic principle that the family of the politicians, especially his wife and children, are to be left outside of this political struggle.
So all of this made the Ecuadorian Government decide to end, conclude with that asylum, and Mr. Assange now is responding before British justice who gave us the guarantee that at no time will they extradite Mr. Assange to a country where his life would be in jeopardy. That is the only thing. That is the only condition we set forth, and at this moment this has allowed the relationship with the United States and the UK to become much more fluid and improved.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Then this joint press conference is concluded. Everyone, thank you very much.