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Democracy, Migration in Focus for Blinken in Ecuador and Colombia

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to give an address Wednesday in Ecuador about what the State Department calls “the challenges facing democracies in the region,” before traveling on to neighboring Colombia for talks with leaders there. 

The State Department said Blinken’s speech will highlight “how inclusive and responsive democratic institutions” can implement economic policies that emphasize “inclusive growth and environmental protection.” 

In addition to democratic and human rights issues, another major focus of Blinken’s trip is migration, and in Bogota he will co-lead a meeting with foreign ministers from the region about a humane migration policy. 

Speaking Tuesday alongside Ecuador’s foreign minister, Mauricio Montalvo, Blinken said migration is “challenging everyone in the hemisphere,” including in Ecuador, where thousands of Venezuelans have settled in recent years.

“The foreign minister and I tomorrow will be in Colombia, where we’re together with most of our colleagues in the hemisphere, to talk about what is so necessary right now, and that is a truly regional, coordinated approach of shared responsibility,” Blinken told reporters. 

As Blinken was heading to Ecuador, President Guillermo Lasso declared a 60-day state of emergency to crack down on drug crime. 

The two met Tuesday, and Blinken said Lasso assured him Ecuador’s government would uphold democratic values such as acting in accordance with the country’s constitution. 

“We talked as well about the exceptional measures that have been taken here in Ecuador to deal with the narcotrafficking challenge and the violence and crime that is attendant with that,” Blinken told reporters. “And we know that in democracies there are times when, with exceptional circumstances, measures are necessary to deal with urgencies and urgent situations like the one Ecuador is experiencing now.” 

Blinken also praised Ecuador for its vaccination campaign against COVID-19. 

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. 

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