Differences in education, industrialization,
productive infrastructure, and technology
between the U.S. and our region have grown
Therefore, the next important step beyond
trade is to find a way to bridge those gaps
and consolidate the benefits opened by the
agreement. One important contribution the
U.S. could make to Central America today is
in assisting educational programs for small
and medium-size entrepreneurs, and providing them access to micro-credit and technical training that would allow them to take
full advantage of trade agreements directly
or indirectly. I am sure you will agree with us
that education in general is the main engine
for transforming our societies.
All of Latin America today faces the challenge of modernizing our business and social-service infrastructure. We would therefore
welcome the kind of investments that would
help us modernize and develop information
and communications systems.
Finally, the U.S. would greatly contribute
to our development by passing comprehensive
immigration reform legislation in Congress.
Central American entrepreneurs are moving
north to accomplish their dreams—many
without proper legal documents. We understand the U.S. interest in maintaining its sovereignty, but a way should be found to treat our
citizens with the respect of due process and
legalize their work status when possible. The
remittances Central Americans send home are
an important source for balancing our macro
economies, and these financial flows are a significant complement to the efforts our governments are making to improve education, health
care and access to dignified housing.
I hope I have been able to convince you
why it is so important now for the U.S. to
reevaluate its outdated perceptions of Central
America as an unstable corner of the world.
We are now in fact one of the most stable and
consolidated sub-regional blocks in the hemisphere. What we can do for ourselves to further improve our position will be of increasing
relevance to Washington because we can play
a vital role in refashioning a new relationship
between the U.S. and Latin America.
Historical ties, geographic closeness, trade
relations, common values, and the number of
Central American citizens who have made the
U.S. their permanent home. All make greater
collaboration of our region with the U.S. natural.
The importance of deepening this rela- Endnotes
tionship goes beyond the economic level to
1 See International Monetary Fund,
become a national security issue. As pros- World Economic Out-
perity translates into political stability and look, April 2008; and Markus Rodlauer and
economic growth, Central American citizens Alfred Schipke, Cen-
will increasingly have access to dignified tral America: Global Integration and
employment and will benefit from a better Regional Cooperation,
distribution of wealth. In this new context, (International Mone- tary Fund, 2005).
the likelihood of falling into populist temp-
2 Dirección General
tations that—through easy and irresponsible de Estadística y
Censos, Censo de
solutions—put freedom and the democratic Población y Vivienda
and economic achievements we have acquired 2007, (República de
El Salvador, 2007).
in our continent at risk is more remote.
3 Ibid. These are
These temptations could be avoided if our based on what is
people perceive a renewed and clear interest determined to be the
basic basket of goods
from the U.S. to strengthen its ties with our for a man and woman
region not just as a partner but also as an ally. to survive. Poverty is
the equivalent of
Success in overcoming those challenges merely achieving the
will depend upon our assuming the respon- basic requirements;
extreme poverty is
sibility to shape our own future. We have to the inability to afford
consolidate our regional integration, build out the basket.
our long-term vision, prioritize our commit-
4 United Nations Con-
ference on Trade and
ments to our own people, and maintain a free Development, World
and democratic political environment. These Investment Report,
are actions that no one can or should do for 2007).
us. But in order to meet the c.hallenges of the
5 World Economic new Central America, we hope we can count Forum, The Global Competitiveness on your continued support. Index 2007-2008.
The next president should leave Latin American
countries alone, lift the Cuban embargo and reduce its
pressure on Mexico to combat narcotrafficking.—Victor