VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, President Moreno, and to the First Lady, to all the distinguished members of your government thank you for the gracious welcome that you have shown to me and my wife Karen on our very first visit to Ecuador. We were honored to join you at last night’s reception, and we’re especially honored to be here again today at the Presidential Palace for candid, and productive, and substantive discussions about the relationship between the United States of America and Ecuador.
Let me say, Quito is a beautiful capital city, just as Ecuador’s landscape is truly inspiring. And this is also a place rich in history. Some of the very first calls for libertad emanated from here and soon echoed across the Americas. In fact, our two nations declared our independence only 33 years apart, and ever since we have been a part of the history of this hemisphere of freedom. Freedom was always the foundation of the friendship between the United States and Ecuador, and today we are renewing that bond.
So let me begin by bringing the gratitude and the appreciation of President Donald Trump, not only for your hospitality today but also for your leadership here in Ecuador. The President sent me here as the highest ranking American official to visit Ecuador in more than 30 years because the United States has always cherished our relationship with Ecuador and we are determined to renew that relationship for the mutual benefit of both our nations.
I also came here on behalf of the President and our entire administration to thank you, President Moreno, for your commitment to refresh the relationship between Ecuador and the United States. Prior to your election, our nations had experienced 10 difficult years where our people always felt close but our governments drifted apart. But over the past year, Mr. President, thanks to your leadership and the actions that you’ve taken have brought us closer together once again.
And you have the appreciation of President Trump and the American people. With your leadership in Ecuador and President Trump’s in the United States, we are opening a new chapter in the relationship between the United States of America and Ecuador.
Of course, that chapter all begins with our shared prosperity. In the United States, as we discussed, President Trump has taken decisive action to strengthen our economy. And since our election in 2016, we’ve seen more than 3.4 million new jobs created, companies are investing in American again. After eight years of slow growth, the American economy grew by nearly 3 percent last year. And we’re just getting started.
Here in Ecuador, Mr. President, you’ve begun to take bold action to grow your economy as well, empowering entrepreneurs and workers. And you’ve been a champion of the rule of law.
You have shown true personal courage to root out the scourge of corruption, even at the highest levels of government. And your nation and our nation admire your leadership.
Today I’m pleased to announce that the United States will support that effort to root out corruption with nearly $1.5 million to support your efforts to end corruption and strengthen civil society in Ecuador.
You can be assured, Mr. President, that, as we discussed, that we will continue to stand with you as you enact new reforms to fortify Ecuador’s democracy, benefitting generations to come.
And the United States will also work with Ecuador in new and in renewed ways to confront the many threats to our people’s security, especially the menace of drug trafficking and criminal organizations. A flow of illegal narcotics and vicious criminals have claimed too many lives of promise in my country and yours.
Let me once again extend the condolences and prayers of the American people to the families of the journalists and the driver who were killed by narco-terrorists in April. It is comforting to know that those remains were returned to Quito just yesterday. And they have our prayers.
Under President Trump we’ve also taken strong action to protect our people and we will continue to do so. Defeating criminal groups and drug traffickers will also require renewed cooperation between our law enforcement and our militaries throughout this region and between our nations.
President Trump and I are grateful for your invitation to reestablish the Office of Security Cooperation, as we agreed to today at our embassy. This will bring our militaries closer. Through training and assistance, it will better equip Ecuador and the United States to confront the challenges that we face for our people and across this region.
And this April, the United States and Ecuador signed two important agreements that we also discussed today to improve coordination between our law enforcement. And I’m pleased to announce our administration is working with the Congress to devote an additional $3.5 million to support these efforts.
But as we also discussed at some length last night and today, one specific threat to our collective security is on the minds of our President, our administration, and the American people — as I know it is on your heart and on your mind, Mr. President — and that is the ongoing collapse of Venezuela into dictatorship, deprivation, and despair.
It is remarkable to think that once one of the most vibrant countries and economies in the Western Hemisphere, Venezuela is now essentially a failed state, and the Venezuelan people are suffering. Once rich, Venezuela is now poor. Once free, Venezuela is now oppressed. And once a model of stability, Venezuela’s collapse has led to a crisis unlike any in our Western Hemisphere’s history. Venezuela’s implosion has led to widespread deprivation, the denial of basic services, and grinding poverty, even starvation. You’ve witnessed its effects firsthand here in Ecuador.
In fact, Venezuela’s collapse has spurred the largest cross-border mass exodus in the history of our hemisphere. More than 2 million Venezuelans have fled, giving drug cartels and human traffickers, and an oppressive government, even more opportunities. This crisis is well known in Ecuador, I know, Mr. President. The first five months of this year, more than 350,000 Venezuelans made their way in and through Ecuador. And that number, we know, could approach a million before this year is out.
Just yesterday, Karen and I sat with families in Brazil who had made their way to a shelter in the city of Manaus. We were deeply moved by those stories, as I know you’ve been, Mr. President. I spoke to a father who looked me in the eye and said how hard it was to tell your children we are not eating today. And as he recounted those words, his two young sons looked up with soulful eyes to confirm the memory of the moment.
I spoke to another family, a father, who told me that the hyperinflation following the policies of the Maduro regime resulted in a time when he would have to work for an entire week to earn enough money to feed his family for a day.
And then there was young Nicoll, a 22-year-old student, who said to me so memorably, as they all did, that she wants to go home to Venezuela. But she said, and I quote, “We need freedom to go back.”
To address this crisis, the United States has already devoted more than $20 million to support Venezuelans who fled their homes, and more than $40 million to support humanitarian efforts across this region. And as I announced in Brazil, we’re now investing nearly an additional $10 million more to support Venezuelan migrants. Two million of this funding, Mr. President, as I informed you, will go directly to support Ecuadorians who respond with such compassion to this crisis.
I want to thank you, Mr. President, and thank the good people of Ecuador for your efforts to provide aid and assistance to Venezuelans who are literally fleeing for their lives from the collapse of their own country. The Ecuadorian people have shown remarkable compassion and generosity. And we will continue to support your efforts in that regard.
And as we discussed today, compassion alone will not end this crisis. It will only end when Venezuela is free once more. As President Trump has made clear, the United States will not stand idly by while Venezuela crumbles. To pressure the Maduro regime and restore democracy, the United States has issued unprecedented sanctions against the dictatorship in Caracas. And as you and I discussed today, we respectfully urge Ecuador and all of our allies across the region to take steps to further isolate the Maduro regime. Now is not the time for words; it is the time for action. And we must all take strong action to support the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.
Mr. President, this new world was always destined to be a hemisphere of freedom. And history will show, in this moment, we stood for freedom for the Venezuelan people in this hour. I thank you for your strong leadership in this regard thus far, and I look forward to expanding our partnership to restore freedom and democracy for the people of Venezuela.
With your support and the commitment of nations across our hemisphere and around the world, I believe the Venezuelan people will reclaim their birthright of freedom. For as Simón Bolívar said so well, “A people that loves freedom will in the end be free.” And I know the Venezuelan people, just like your people and our people, love freedom.
Mr. President, thank you again for so kindly hosting us here today. Soon we will leave your beautiful country to travel to Guatemala, where we will meet with your counterparts to discuss challenges that their nations face and that some of their challenges are causing for the United States of America. But as I prepare to depart, I do so with great admiration for you personally, Mr. President, for your courage, for your vision, and your commitment to renew the partnership between the United States of America and Ecuador.
In the days ahead, be assured that we will continue to work together to forge a future of freedom for both our countries. My wife and I have truly been struck by the physical beauty of Ecuador and of your capital city. It’s truly inspiring, day or night.
We’ve also been impressed, as we talked last night, about the heritage of faith here in Ecuador. My wife visited La Compañía today. And the number of churches here in your glorious capital city speaks about a foundation of faith for the Ecuadorian people that gives me great confidence. And with the leadership that you’re providing for this great nation, with the foundation of faith of your people, I know that freedom will succeed in the days ahead in this great nation. Because as the Good Book reminds us, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there’s freedom.” How freedom always wins when the foundation is faith.
So with appreciation for our shared history, with confidence that we are renewing a partnership for the benefit of both of our people, and with God’s help, I know that the bonds between our nations will grow stronger still and the best days — the best days for Ecuador and the United States of America are yet to come.
So thank you, Mr. President. God bless you and the First Lady. God bless Ecuador. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT MORENO: (As interpreted.) Mr. Vice President, your wife, your committee here, please receive our brotherly affection for the Ecuadorian people. We like very much the American people for many reasons we referred to already.
I would like to thank you, Mr. Vice President, for this official visit to our country. Undoubtedly, it’s been a very productive encounter. Today, we’ve opened a new way to (inaudible) both nations by ratifying the strong links and bonds that join our people together.
Our common agenda, Mr. Vice President, aims at a common interest. That’s why we coincided on the importance that strengthening our relations has in economy, trade development, security, migration — matters that we talked about.
We have promise and (inaudible). We’ve agreed to increase and facilitate bilateral or two-way trade that (inaudible) to the wellbeing and employment for our two countries.
We would like to thank your willingness, Mr. Vice President, to make (inaudible) these financial possibilities of Ecuador by strengthening dialogue with the multilateral organizations, because we’ve recognized the importance of the actions taken by our government to promote private investment, similar economic growth on our behalf.
(Inaudible) the (inaudible) of Ecuador for the renewal of the (inaudible) preference system. Whatsoever, we proposed to have access without tariffs to the U.S. market of Ecuadorian products, such as flours, broccoli, artichokes, tuna, (inaudible), and everything related to steel and aluminum.
We also agreed to get rid of any impediment there may be between (inaudible) the end of this year to dialogue forum, which will be political and bilateral, and to Council of Trade and Investment, which is key for the progress of our economic relationships.
Mr. Vice President, compared to — enhance the cooperation within the Ecuadorian legal framework to combat transnational, trans-border crime, trafficking violence, mainly in the area of our northern border line, Ecuador, Mr. Vice President, does not have cocaine crops whatsoever. It gots a lot of drug and narcotics produced in the neighboring countries. We’re one more victim of trafficking mafias of drugs.
We’re trying to avoid that those drugs to reach the large consumers’ market — we talked about it — like North America and Europe. Because of that, we lead the international commitment on this struggle — on our struggle that would be in equivalent amounts to the ones that are granted to some other states.
Therefore, we would like to salute Vice President Pence to granting the cooperation of funds from the United States for that struggle against this crime that is affecting children, youth, and people, from everything (inaudible) the future of the youth and the children, and destroys families all over the world.
We coincide on the importance of the people (inaudible) strong or close cooperation in the struggle against corruption that (inaudible), money laundering, and human trafficking. This cooperation will contribute, I’m sure, to facilitate several processes for extradition that so far has not been successful for our country.
Mr. Vice President, you may remember we talked about how discouraging it is for Ecuadorians to know that those that used our sources badly can be protected in some sister countries. And on many occasions, because of some — or because of our own mistakes and because of the lack of positive willingness coming from international authorities, and because of that we cannot extradite them. That’s why our people can see that they’re not (inaudible) and cannot actually sanction those peoples against these crimes against the state.
The government will — to support (inaudible) of the National Supreme Court to bring back to Ecuador those people so they can get their sentence, the ones that violated the national law. We talked very sincerely with the Vice President about this attrition of our brothers and sisters in the — brothers and sisters in the United States, and the need to protect their rights and their families’ rights.
We’ve also conveyed our huge concern for the situation of the Latin American children which were separated from their parents. It doesn’t just (inaudible) about our sister countries also, but abouts to Ecuadorian children who we’re trying to protect. I salute expressions of the Vice President of the United States as for the commitment taken upon his government to give a final solution to this humanitarian problem.
Both countries expressed our concern to also for the economics decision — the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela that has caused the exodus of more than 2 million Venezuelans to several countries, including Ecuador.
Mr. Pence, recognize our efforts made by welcoming almost 150,000 Venezuelan citizens that had to leave their country. On this matter, we agreed (inaudible) on the OAS to promote the civilians roles as fundamental. Ever since, the world knows, we all proposed this democratic (inaudible) through dialogue and (inaudible) referendum that would be transparent, inclusive, and with the participation of several world observers. We have not received any response yet to this initiative here.
Besides that, we proposed that mediation of the Secretary General of the U.N. We just have to get a good specific and a peaceful, democratic result. We think the solution for Venezuela could only be carried out by Venezuelans. On the other hand, we’ve condemned the actions that have taken place lately, the last month — more than 100 dead and many wounded people in the Republic of Nicaragua. And therefore, we would like to reiterate our call to the media (inaudible) of violence to reestablish internal peace, the respect to human rights, and also to pick up dialogue as the only way to resolve those differences there are in this sister nation, Nicaragua.
Undoubtedly, dear fellow (inaudible) the visit of Mr. Pence has been very positive because of the agreements reached. Ecuador and the United States, of course, have discrepancies and many things that we need to now coincide in. But I’m completely positive and convinced that, through dialogue and joint work, we will make progress and we’ll strengthen that brotherhood.
I’ve expressed, Mr. Pence, the willingness of Ecuador to get closer relationship — bilateral relationships within a framework of the sovereignty, equity, and friendship of both peoples. I would like to — the recognition of your government to our efforts made to establish human rights or all the efforts we’ve made to fight against corruption and to reestablish freedom of speech, and especially — and also as for the roles of the state, and getting stronger on our democracy.
Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President, and your committee, your mission, as well, to have deployed great work, together with our ministers.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear journalists, also thank you very much for your being here. (Applause.)