At a conference held at IDB headquarters in Washington, DC
Presidents Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador, Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala and Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras today presented in Washington, DC a plan to promote economic, social and institutional development in their countries.
The three heads of state and U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden spoke at the opening of the conference Investing in Central America: Unlocking Opportunities for Growth, which was held at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
During the event, the presidents outlined a series of actions proposed in the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, a joint plan aimed at boosting economic growth, job opportunities, access to health and education, and improved security conditions in their countries.
“Pursuing the goals we’ve set for ourselves with this Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle is an ambitious but possible and achievable task,” said President Sanchez Ceren. “(This partnership) complements our medium- and long-term strategic aims by promoting dignity for our people and their effective participation in the quest for inclusive economic growth.”
President Perez Molina underscored their nations’ need to invest in their own citizens: “Focusing our efforts on human capital is the best investment we can make for our countries’ development.”
In turn, President Hernandez stated: “A peaceful Central America, with opportunities for its people, with justice and security, will be of great benefit not only for our citizens but also for the United States and other peoples of the world.”
The three governments began to work together on the plan in August, in response to a humanitarian crisis triggered by the exodus of tens of thousands of Central American children, teenagers and young mothers trying to reach the United States.
El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are plagued with some of the highest crime and poverty rates in the Americas. These dire conditions have prompted almost one in 10 of their citizens to migrate, mostly to the United States.
In his speech Vice President Biden said, “Urgent challenges demand urgent action -- backed by political will and political courage. It’s hard, but it can be done.”
IDB President Moreno congratulated the Central American presidents for putting together a well-planned roadmap to the future. “More importantly, it’s your plan. It’s rooted in the priorities and aspirations of the people of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.”
Moreno added that the plan will require support from donor nations, multilateral agencies and the private sector. “We can’t lose the momentum. We must move quickly to build a coalition of allies willing to take risks and to support the plan over the long term.”
The conference featured a panel where private sector leaders discussed measures to improve the business climate in the three Central American nations. In another panel, representatives from multilateral agencies analyzed these countries’ institutional development and human capital challenges.
In their remarks the Central American presidents asked the IDB to act as the technical secretariat for the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle.
As Latin America and the Caribbean’s leading source of financing, over the past five years the IDB has provided El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras more than $3 billion in loans for a range of development projects.
- Valeria Pacheco