DENVER. The new General of the US Southern Command, Laura Richardson, said on Friday that she is focused on strengthening military relations with the countries of South America, despite the tense policies.
Richardson was in Denver to speak at her graduation ceremony at her alma mater, Metropolitan State University, just over a month after taking on the role of the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. Army.
Although the policy between the US and South American countries may not be the same as “we would like to …”. military relations are really strong, ”Richardson said during a media roundtable.
Richardson gave an example from El Salvador, where US political relations are deteriorating. In November, Jean Manes, Chargé d’Affaires in El Salvador, announced that she was leaving office and said that the government of President Nayyib Bukele was “showing no interest” in improving bilateral relations.
Manes’ departure was preceded by the Bukele government’s withdrawal from the anti-corruption agreement with the Organization of American States and their refusal to extradite members of the MS-13 gang to the United States for trial.
Earlier this year, the US government also released lists of allegedly corrupt officials in Central America, including Bukele Chief of Staff Carolina Resinos.
Meanwhile, Richardson said the U.S.-El Salvador security partnership remains strong, adding that she recently called National Defense Secretary Rene Francis Merino Monroe to express condolences to his son, who died in a plane crash as a pilot. The United States also dispatched a helicopter squad from Honduras to help with search and rescue operations, she said.
Richardson noted that 23 countries had arrived for the October command change ceremony by Southern Command, where she was formally appointed head of the agency.
“It was really great that so many people came and presented because they want to collaborate with us,” she said. “They want to do exercise. They want to work with us as often as possible. “
Since taking office, Richardson has traveled to Colombia and Brazil. She remembered her father from her hometown of Nortglenn, Colorado when she asked how far away she was and what time zone she was in.
“I wonder how many other people are like my father, and I don’t understand how close things are,” she said. “Because they are our neighbors.”
As the new head of the agency, Richardson said she is thinking about how to maintain relationships with countries large and small, “so that we never leave anyone … untouched or feeling that we are not working with them.”
Richardson said the Southern Command’s work is increasingly linked to humanitarian response to climate change-related disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. They are also working to intensify the illicit drug trade – noting that the metric tons of cocaine intercepted by the US “more than doubled” between 2019 and 2020.
As a woman who has broken through numerous glass ceilings in the military, Richardson said she strives to represent her demographic and make them proud and taunt it: “You can get in there and get hooked on the rest.”