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1992 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Cartagena

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Cartagena on Tuesday 9th June 1992.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, the first ever visit by someone in your job while in office to this country, you have had some talks, how are things going?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think the talks are going extremely well, it is 8 years since I was last in Colombia and the change in the country has been very profound, the way in which they run their economy, the sheer grip the government is now beginning to get on a whole series of very difficult problems, not least of course drugs.

QUESTION:

You seem to be suggesting there is something in this for Britain, not just Colombia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh I do not think it is a one-way option, the whole of Latin America has changed dramatically in the last decade, it is becoming an increasingly important part of the world in terms of trade. We had an excellent relationship in the 18th and 19th century, it fell away a little over the last 50 years or so. I believe the prospects of Latin America in the future are very good, I think British companies ought to recognise those prospects and we ought to recognise the remarkable changes there have been in this part of the world.

QUESTION:

I suppose most people who think of Colombia they think of drugs and the Medillin cartel and other cartels, do you think there is any sign that that war against illegal drugs is being won?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is certainly not going to be won in the short term but I think there are several things to be said about it. Firstly a number of the drug barons are now in custody, awaiting trial, and we must wait and see how the trials turn out. Secondly, the Colombian government are tackling this problem with very great courage, very great physical courage as well as political courage, and in the last few years we have been one of that principal allies, we have committed a lot of resources, a lot of advice, a lot of know-how in order to assist them in dealing with their drugs problems. We will continue to do that, that is not just an altruistic degree of help, if the drugs are produced anywhere in the world, Colombia or elsewhere, their end use might be in Europe or in the United Kingdom. If we can cut off the drugs at source we can save lives at home.

QUESTION:

Ministerial involvement in that area is not going to stop with your visit here?

PRIME MINISTER:

No it is not, I very much hope the Home Secretary will be back to examine the whole programme to see how it is progressing some time in the autumn, we have not finalised dates yet but I am sure he will now be coming.

QUESTION:

This is a democratic country but it is a country on edge, there is a guerrilla war of some kind going on as well as problems with the drugs barons, tomorrow some people say you are exposing yourself to great risks where the guerrillas have been extremely active, how do you feel about that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am looking forward to the visit, there is a lot to be seen there and I will be in extremely good company because I suspect you are coming with me.

QUESTION:

I am now but you do not think you will be in danger?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have no idea but I need to go and see this, there are British companies there, they are working there, they are exploring there, they have new oil discoveries, they are going to develop it and I want to see that development, I think it is somewhere I should go and I am looking forward to the visit.