U.S. Marine Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, is visiting Costa Rica today. He will be at Casa Presidencial this morning to meet with security officials.
As head of the Southern Command, Kelly is a major decision maker in the U.S. war on drugs. He is expected to talk about the Central American Regional Security Initiative with Costa Rican officials today.
Kelly is coming from El Salvador, which is considered an important U.S. ally in Latin America. The U.S. and El Salvador enjoy a strong military partnership and a long history of security cooperation guided by a shared interest in lasting peace and stability for the region, said the Southern Command. in advance of the trip.
Thursday Kelly met with Adm. Paul Zukunft, the new U.S. Coast Guard commandant at the Southern Command’s headquarters near Miami, Florida. The Southern Command said that the main theme of the meeting was the need for renewed efforts toward safety and security in the Western Hemisphere.
“Criminal organizations engaged in trafficking threaten nations and the security of their citizens,” Kelly was quoted as saying. “These challenges require close cooperation among federal agencies, along with willing partners in the region, to continue the fight against illicit trafficking. These relationships not only enhance our abilities to deal with these threats to our sovereignty and security, they offer a tangible example of our willingness and commitment to work with partners in support of shared goals for peace, security and prosperity throughout the western hemisphere.”
Zukunft said that “The wide-spread violence of criminal networks just to our south has reached epidemic levels,” according to a summary by the Southern Command.