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This morning U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly kicked-off the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America in Miami, Florida with Mexican Foreign Secretary Videgaray and Mexican Interior Secretary Osorio Chong. The open plenary session was also attended by Vice President Óscar Ortiz of El Salvador, President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala, and President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, as well as U.S. and Latin American private sector leaders and other international partners.
During the session, the leaders’ broad remarks addressed the economic, security, and governance challenges in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Sec. Tillerson noted that strong infrastructure is a key component to economic growth, as well as improving the business climate by removing excessive regulations and rooting out corruption. It is estimated that 25 million new urban dwellers will reside in Central America in the coming years, and Sec. Tillerson urged the private sector to consider ways they could partner with the Northern Triangle governments to provide goods and services to these people.
Sec. Videgaray reiterated Mexico’s desire to come together to solve the problems hindering economic growth in Central America, saying that increasing trade amongst nations is one way to achieve prosperity. He said Mexico intends to invest over two billion into their ports as one way Mexico is making it easier to move goods in and out of the region.
U.S. and Mexican engagement in Central America also aims to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, combat drug trafficking and deter illegal migration, and increase private sector investment to create employment and economic opportunity.
This conference is mobilizing international partners to positively impact the region. President Morales urged the private sector to help Guatemala build and rebuild their roads, their ports, and their hospitals.
Together, the Western Hemisphere countries at this conference are targeting the root causes of illicit activities that threaten regional stability. Together, they are removing obstacles to economic growth, including barriers to trade and investment for American businesses. As Vice President Ortiz stated, ‘It is important for us to become better coordinated on social, economic, and security issues.’
The remarks during the opening session set the tone for the next two days of meetings, when conference participants will discuss policies to address the underlying drivers of illegal migration and illicit trafficking affecting the region, as well as tangible ways to combat organized crime, promote regional security cooperation, improve citizen security, and build the capacity to fight corruption and impunity. These actions would spark investment in the region, promote sustainable growth, and improve conditions for U.S. and other international businesses.