Press releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) returned Sunday from a congressional delegation trip to Colombia and Puerto Rico with members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  Sen. Kennedy – along with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) – met with Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos about eradicating the coca crop that is vital to the development of cocaine.  They also traveled to Puerto Rico, where they got a first-hand look at the recovery from Hurricane Maria.

“We have to use every outlet available to fight back and win the war on drugs.  This was an incredibly enlightening and productive mission,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We must continue to work together with our allies and stop the plague of drug addiction and dependence.  Additionally, with President Santos, we discussed not only the important issue of Colombia’s pending admission to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), but also we spoke at length about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.  With millions of refugees fleeing the failed socialist experiment, it is imperative that, as a nation, we continue to support countries seeking freedom from oppressive socialist regimes.

The trip began in Colombia, where the congressional delegation met with Santos, various cabinet ministers and U.S. officials to discuss regional security, defense, trade and bilateral cooperation. They visited the University of Antioquia Alzheimer's NIH Research Center in Medellin.  The group also conducted oversight of SOUTHCOM operations, a counter-narcotics, and U.S. partnership.

Sen. Kennedy received updates on counternarcotics operations by Lieutenant General Carlos Mario Jimenez, the Colombian Army G-3, Brigadier General Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia, the commander of Police component of Task Force Agamemnon II, and Brigadier General Jorge Enrique Mora Rangel, the commander of Colombian Army component of Task Force Agamemnon II.  Additional briefings about ongoing counternarcotics operations were conducted by the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker, who was joined by representatives of the Economic, Political, Public Affairs, and International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Sections, as well as USAID, DEA, and the Defense Attaché Office. 

Sen. Kennedy and members of the delegation meeting with officials in Colombia discussing ongoing efforts to eradicate the coca crops. 

Sen. Kennedy and his wife, Becky, pictured above with Colombia President Santos.

Additionally, the group traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to review Hurricane Maria recovery efforts, meet with local government officials and visit a community hospital.  Sen. Kennedy was briefed by officials from FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services and Puerto Rican officials.

“While much progress has been made, there is still an incredible amount of work that needs to be done in Puerto Rico.  What I saw there reminded me too much of what New Orleans looked like in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “We cannot forget that there are millions of American citizens who are still hurting just miles away from Florida.” 

Sen. Kennedy meeting with volunteers and officials in Puerto Rico.

Photograph taken of lingering damage to homes and structures in Puerto Rico.