Subcommittee Chairman Pfluger Leads Bipartisan CODEL to Latin America
July 14, 2023
Delegation received updates on the Chinese Communist Party’s growing influence in the region & TCO operations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Counterterrorism, and Law Enforcement Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX) led a bipartisan Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama last week. Chairman Pfluger and the CODEL met with national security and law enforcement leaders in these countries to discuss the growing and complicated influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the region, the evolving, sophisticated threat of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), and the migration crisis these countries are experiencing as a result of the U.S.’ failed immigration policies.
Chairman Pfluger was joined by Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairman Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), Representative Aaron Bean (R-FL), and Representative Wiley Nickel (D-NC).
Notably, the delegation visited the Darien region of Panama where the members toured the first migrant village called Bajo Chiquito that migrants encounter in Panama after the grueling journey through the Darien jungle. Panamanian officials told the members that approximately 1,500 to 2,000 migrants are encountered daily from that village. The members had the opportunity to speak with migrants from around the world including Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Haiti, and Nigeria. They all said they are headed to the U.S. From there, members visited the San Vicente camp—a small facility where migrants receive basic necessities like food, water, and medical aid before being put on a bus to travel to the next transit country like Costa Rica, and then ultimately to the U.S. At the San Vincente camp, Chairman Pfluger spoke with a child who had severe cuts on his legs from journey through the Darien. The child could not walk on his own and needed to be lifted for treatment. There were many additional harrowing stories showcasing the dangerous journey through the Darien.
“I was proud to lead a bipartisan delegation of members on an official visit to Latin America—Brazil, Colombia, and Panama—to examine the very real threats to U.S. national security stemming from these regions. As Chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence, I have focused our efforts on uncovering threats to the homeland from all angles—including transnational criminal organizations in Latin America, the rising threat of the Chinese Communist party, and of course human and drug trafficking through our southern border. Our visit provided a direct look into the epicenter of many of these threats—and my eyes are opened,” said Chairman Pfluger.
“I am more motivated than ever in calling on the Biden administration to reverse their open-border policies and rhetoric that are emboldening hundreds of thousands of migrants to make the life-threatening journey through this area every year. We cannot ignore the massive security crisis that awaits on our doorstep.”
- In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the delegation received a U.S. country team brief on efforts to counter Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence and counter-Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) operations in the country, as well as a meeting with the U.S. Consulate General. Additionally, the delegation met with the Federal Police Superintendent for the State of Rio to discuss border security efforts, TCOs, and organized crime. They wrapped up the visit in Brazil with a meeting with the Brazilian Navy to discuss U.S.-Brazil maritime cooperation.
- In Bogota, Colombia, the delegation met with the Colombian National Police Director, General William Salamanca, and other high-ranking officials to underscore the importance of cooperation combating the illicit drug trade, migrant smuggling, and criminal organizations. The delegation then joined the Colombian National Police at their remote training facilities where they saw numerous training demonstrations and a coca paste lab presentation.
- In Panama City, Panama, the delegation visited the Darien region where they were helicoptered to the San Vicente Migrant Camp in the jungle. Additionally, they met with Panamanian Foreign Minister Janaina Tewaney, followed by a briefing from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Sensitive Investigations Unit, and FBI anti-money laundering/Counter Corruption Task Force.