US envoy from Colombia warns of Russian interference on the continent as he praises US-Colombia ties
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The Colombian ambassador to the United States warned on Tuesday Russia it has intruded into the region and is threatening local democracies. He also praised the United States’ relations with his country and said it was important to promote democratic values in the region.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón described how Russia, a country with a long and sordid history of negative involvement in Latin America – continues to use his influence through nefarious ways on the continent.
He told Fox News Digital: “Russia has been trying to be in the region, trying to frankly, maliciously, influence our democracies through cyber attacks, disinformation and this is something we care about (we care about) because there are regimes. in the region such as that of (Nicolas) Maduro in Venezuela or (Daniel) Ortega in Nicaragua, which somehow allowed their territories this kind of threats “.
Pinzón, who was a guest speaker at the Milken Institute world conference a Los Angeles this week, he warned of Russia’s nefarious actions on the continent and described how it played a particularly problematic role in Venezuela and Nicaragua. He said the Russians have created information and cyber capabilities which, according to him, “have somehow influenced politics in the region, including that in my own country.”
Colombians go to the polls at the end of this month to elect a new president and concerns are growing that Russia has already started an interference campaign. In March, a senior administration reporter, on the eve of the Colombian president’s visit, told the White House that this was an area of concern and noted that Colombia had “expressed significant disinformation concerns – in plainly or apparently – directly from Russia to Colombia “.
The US official also noted that the US was aiding its South American ally with technical assistance to help with an increase in cyber attacks. According to Voice of America’s reporting More than 50,000 attacks on the web platform of Colombia’s national register of voters have been detected ahead of the parliamentary elections in March.
One of the countries that has been at the center of Russia’s malign influence has been Venezuela, which has spent billions to secure its presence there.
Venezuela shares a border with Colombia and after years of political unrest, corruption and involvement in narco-terrorism, the economy of the former oil-rich country nearly collapsed leading to a mass exodus, which the United Nations estimates it’s close to six million – two million of which have fled to Colombia.
Pinzón said it was important for democracy to return to Venezuela. He told Fox News Digital: “In our opinion, what matters is to keep the goal clear as a difficult idea, which is to bring democracy back to Venezuela. We do not give any advantage or opportunity to autocrats or those who have violated human rights. or those linked to criminal activities, including drug trafficking. Let us make sure that any negotiations are for the benefit of the Venezuelan people and to restore democracy. “
Pinzón said the best way to prevent illegal immigration from there is to have a thriving Latin America. “If we can bring prosperity to Latin America, investments, jobs, security, stable democracy, strong institutions, we will not see such a level of migration.” He noted that the continent has a billion people, a wealth of natural resources, and all it needs is the right investment and support to make it thrive.
Pinzón announced the 200-year relationship that Colombia has had with the United States. “I think the US-Colombia operation is the most important in the Western Hemisphere. We have fought together drug traffickers, criminals and I think we will have to continue to do so because unfortunately these drugs continue to increase its presence.” He also noted that the United States has an important role to play by noting that it is a large user of illegal drugs.
He concluded: “We must work together, those who produce and those who consume and, in so doing, truly addressing the evil funds that are the gateway to derail the economy, derail democracy and somehow influence the possibility of good. – be from our region “.
In March, President Biden announced that he was designating Colombia as a major non-NATO ally. This status brings certain advantages in the areas of defense, trade and security cooperation. The announcement came during a meeting with the President of Colombia Ivan Duque.
Fox News’ Kelsey Koberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.