Posts Tagged ‘Costa Rica’

Remarks With Costa Rican Foreign Minister Rene Castro After their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
The Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 4, 2011
Vodpod videos no longer available.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome Dr. Castro here today. I first met him when he was the incoming foreign minister, and he welcomed me to the Pathways for Prosperity Summit in San Jose. And it’s wonderful for me now to see you, Minister, here in Washington.

We view our relationship with Costa Rica as one of the most important that we have. In this region, the United States is reaching out to nations that share our values and our commitments to solving problems together with its strong democratic institutions, its trailblazing efforts to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth. Costa Rica is a success story, a kindred spirit, and a valued partner and friend.

The foreign minister and I had a very productive discussion about how we can work even more closely together, and we thank Costa Rica for its defense at the United Nations of human rights in Iran and North Korea, Libya, and elsewhere.

We’re also working together to take on the transnational drug trafficking organizations that destroy lives, destabilize societies, and prevent so many across our hemisphere from living up to their own God-given potential.

We are deepening our partnerships on regional security issues with Mexico, Central America, and Colombia, and Costa Rica plays a major role in that. We’re working to – work together on the Central America Regional Security Initiative. And I know from meeting with President Chinchilla that there is so much Costa Rica is already doing, but they face the same problems as their neighbors. And this is an issue that President Obama will be addressing when he is in the region on his trip later this month.

We are also very concerned about the dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We want to see that resolved in a peaceful solution. We know that there will be a court decision coming from the International Court, and we certainly will continue to support the resolution in accordance with long-established agreements.

I also want to really plug what Costa Rica is doing in clean energy, scientific innovation, even aerospace. And I have to say, I just learned from the minister that they’re working on carbon dioxide-free products, like coffee. At the EARTH University, started 25 years ago with support from USAID, academics and scientists are working to combine clean energy innovation and cutting edge farming. And the United States is proud that, after 25 years and 1,600 hours in space with NASA, Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz is now leading Costa Rica’s efforts to develop an aerospace sector. Dr. Chang-Diaz is one of – is the first Latino to travel in space, and today his daughter is breaking down barriers in our country as the first Latina woman to serve in the Massachusetts State Senate.

I like bragging on Costa Rica, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER CASTRO: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I look forward to continuing our close partnership as we work together to face the challenges of this time.

FOREIGN MINISTER CASTRO: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. It is a pleasure for us to work with the U.S., a long-term friend, working in bilateral and regional matters, including the dreams for the future like the aerospace and the Green Growth that is one of the concepts for a sustainable world. We would like to keep doing so and improve the world as it is for working for peace, for a sustainable future, and against major threats like climate change, producing small efforts like this, the CO2 neutral coffee, that will show to other agricultural countries of the world that it is doable and that we can both share and work together for the longer term. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Minister.

MR. TONER: We have time for just two questions. David Gollust of Voice of America.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you concerned about the situation in Libya developing into a long-term, violent civil war that could be disruptive to the region? And do you see any value in Venezuelan mediation on that? And very briefly, what do you hope Iran can do in the case of Robert Levinson. And finally, Alan Gross. (Laughter.) Alan Gross is going on trial in Cuba for seemingly innocuous activities that could get him 20 years in prison. If you could address those, please.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Dave, I like your one question. (Laughter.) First, on Libya, of course we are concerned with the ongoing violence and the actions that are initiated and perpetrated by Qadhafi and his regime against his own people. We are considering a number of ways that we can be of assistance with respect to that.

But we are now focused on the humanitarian situation. At President Obama’s direction, USAID has charted additional civilian aircraft to help people from other countries who have fled Libya to find their way home. We have two United States C-130s on their way to Tunisia right now. We have sent humanitarian assistance teams to both border regions with supplies, like water containers, blankets, medical supplies as well. We are closely coordinating with the United Nations and NGOs, and of course, the United States, as is usually the case, is providing a great deal of the resources to provide humanitarian assistance.

We know that there is a lot of confusion on the ground that is often difficult for us to sort through to get to what the actual facts are. But the United States remains deeply concerned about the welfare of the Libyan people, the Libyans and those who are fleeing Libya are the subject of our outreach. And wherever possible, we will be directly providing assistance. And we continue to consult with our NATO allies, our Arab partners, our UN mission, to determine what are productive, constructive ways forward to try to deal with the situation we see developing there.

With respect to the Robert Levinson case, let me say this is an ongoing investigation. I cannot comment any further. What is important is that we work to bring Bob Levinson home safely to his family in Florida. His family misses him dearly. He does have medical issues. And we continue to welcome any help that the Iranian Government can provide in determining Mr. Levinson’s welfare and whereabouts, so that he can be reunited with his family as soon as possible.

Now, we also, as you know, are deeply concerned about our American citizen, Alan Gross. He’s been unjustly jailed for far too long. We call on the Government of Cuba to release him, and unconditionally allow him to leave Cuba and return to his family, to bring an end to their long ordeal. It is a matter of great personal pain to his family and concern to the United States Government, so we’re going to hope that he will be also reunited soon.

MR. TONER: The next question goes to (inaudible).

QUESTION: Hi, good morning. I have one question for each.

Secretary Clinton, if I recall well, the President’s budget for 2012 keeps the funds for CARSI at $100 million. But the Central American governments say that an equivalent to the Merida Initiative for the region, for Central America, costs about $900 million. Is the U.S. considering to increase the funds for anti-narcotic efforts in Central America? And is the U.S. concerned that Central America reach a breaking point when law enforcement becomes impossible because of the narco-traffickers?

And Minister, I understand you wanted to discuss with the Secretary some complaints about Venezuela interventionism in Nicaragua, like sending money or doing some kind of efforts that your government considers interventionism. I just wanted to know whether you had discussed this issue and what came out of it. Thanks.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first let me begin by saying that the United States is absolutely committed to helping in every way we can to improve the security situation in Central America, to support the efforts that governments are undertaking on their own behalf. And we are working through a number of different channels. There will be an OAS meeting about regional security in June. There will also be a SICA meeting this – later this spring as well. President Obama will address this issue when he goes to El Salvador.

We do have a commitment of significant dollars, but I have to tell you that it is our experience that dollars alone are not enough. Sometimes, the most cost effective way of helping a government protect itself is working to train police officers and other law enforcement officials to help the government better organize their assets, to work to support independent judiciaries, to assist in patrolling coastlines, to provide vetting programs so that funds coming in and out of countries can be traced. There are many things that can be done that we have learned from long experience, working in Colombia, working now in Mexico, that are important – border patrol and border surveillance, which we know is critical.

So I think that this is certainly about resources, and we are prepared to provide additional resources. But it’s also about supporting governments like Costa Rica’s, that has a track record of knowing how best to use those resources, and helping other countries apply resources in a more effective way to get the results they seek.

FOREIGN MINISTER CASTRO: First of all, Costa Rica is willing to work both at the bilateral and regional level with the U.S. against the organized crime. We are already doing so. We have to do much more. For example, we will be hosting in San Jose, Costa Rica at the end of March a multilateral meeting of seven countries already agreeing in working against organized crime in the Caribbean. Those seven countries are the U.S., France, Netherlands, Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic, and the UK already – the UK Government already stated that it will also join the effort. And this kind of multilateral approach is – will also help and will be seek.

In the case of the point of the Costa Rica and Nicaragua conflict, what we have said is that we are really concerned about $1.4 billion unaccounted that have been received by Nicaragua, and that are also being used today by the Ortega family to buy local TV stations and communications companies, hotels, banks, and invading Costa Rica. And we want the world to account that $1.4 billion. And we are asking the International Monetary Fund and other organizations in the international financial institutions to account this money. We want to see how it is used, where is it coming from, and that will be crucial for (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you so much, Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER CASTRO: Thank you. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

Read Full Post »

The Secretary may be wheels up for Sharm el Sheikh, but she made certain to wish a Happy Independence Day to our Central American neighbors today. We all join her in wishing them well.

Nicaragua’s Independence Day

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 13, 2010

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Nicaragua on the 189th anniversary of your independence this September 15.
As schoolchildren throughout the country read the Act of Independence of Central America and honor Nicaragua’s long history, we offer our best hopes for a future of opportunity and prosperity for the Nicaraguan people and all the people of the Americas. The United States is committed to working with Nicaragua to deepen the relationship between our countries based on mutual respect and cooperation.
I wish all Nicaraguans a happy independence day and a prosperous, democratic, and peaceful future.

Guatemala’s Independence Day

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 13, 2010

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Guatemala on the 189th anniversary of your independence this September 15.
As Guatemalans all over the world commemorate this festive occasion, we join in celebrating your rich culture and honoring the growing ties that unite our countries. I have enjoyed the warmth and generosity of the Guatemalan people on each of my visits, and the Guatemalan community in the United States has made great contributions to our nation. These deep connections between our people reinforce our close partnership.
On my trip to your country last March, President Colom and I affirmed our commitment to work together on expanding economic growth, improving transparency and accountability, and increasing access to health care and education. Through our Pathways to Prosperity initiative and the Central American Regional Security Initiative, we are working together to widen the circle of opportunity for our citizens and promote stability throughout our hemisphere.

I wish all Guatemalans a happy independence day and a prosperous year. I look forward to continuing the partnership between our countries as we work to build a better world for our children.

El Salvador’s Independence Day

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 13, 2010

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of El Salvador as you celebrate the 189th anniversary of your independence this September 15.
As Salvadorans around the world enjoy patriotic festivities and honor the heroes of your struggle for independence, we join in celebrating your rich culture and our shared traditions. I was honored to be present for the inauguration of President Funes last year and reinforce our common commitment to building strong democratic institutions, promoting the rule of law, and expanding economic growth and opportunity to more people. We have also made great strides working together to combat terrorism, crime, and drug trafficking. These ties of friendship extend beyond our governments with our strong business and deep people-to-people connections. We are committed to working closely with El Salvador to further strengthen the close relationship between our nations.
I wish all Salvadorans a happy independence day — ¡Felicitaciones! I look forward to continuing our work together building a future of lasting security and prosperity for all our people.

Costa Rica’s Independence Day

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 13, 2010

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Costa Rica on the 189th anniversary of your independence this September 15.

Costa Rica has long been a champion of the values and interests we share throughout our hemisphere – democracy, human rights, open markets, and regional unity and stability. Your strong democratic traditions have set a shining example for over 100 years. During my visit last March, I was honored to meet with Costa Rica’s first female president-elect and discuss avenues for further cooperation and partnership between our nations. As the host of this year’s Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial, Costa Rica provided valuable leadership in our common mission to expand economic opportunities to more people throughout the Americas.

Today, we honor your country’s many accomplishments, and we reaffirm our commitment to further deepening the ties of friendship and cooperation between Costa Rica and the United States. We look forward to continuing our work together on public safety, economic inclusion, environmental protection, clean energy development, and many other initiatives as we strive to build a more secure and prosperous future for us all.

I wish all Costa Ricans a joyous Independence Day. In the words of Jose Maria Zeledon Brenes: “Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz.”

Honduras’s Independence Day

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 13, 2010

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Honduras as you celebrate 189 years of independence this September 15. Our countries share a history of cooperation based on mutual interests, values, and friendship. Americans have long enjoyed the beauty of Honduras and the hospitality of its people, and we look forward to further strengthening our connections.
Honduras is emerging from a very difficult period. Your resumption of democratic and constitutional government this year has been a testament to the resilience of the Honduran people, and we will work with you to strengthen safeguards for human rights and the rule of law.
The United States supports Honduran efforts to win international recognition for the progress you have made and to fully reclaim your rightful place in the inter-American community. I look forward to our continued work — as partners and friends — to promote freedom, prosperity, and citizen security throughout our hemisphere.
I wish all Hondurans a safe and happy independence day.

Read Full Post »

This video is such a treat! It is so much more than I had hoped for. I posted the text of these remarks on Friday and loved it so much I had hoped for (and have been searching for) a picture of this event. Today,  this video popped up at the State Department video site, and it is a hundred times better than a picture. Hillary with the families and kids: priceless. So cute and funny with babies in the background. She loves kids. She says it in this video, so I will say it, too, “Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Thank you, State Department!

Read Full Post »

I cannot find any photos yet from this event, so I added one from earlier just because I like it.   That Turkey-Armenia question is a political hot potato right now.  She handled it like the ace shortstop that she is.

Remarks With Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno Ugarte and Dominican Republic Deputy Foreign Minister Clara Quinones de Longo

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
San Jose, Costa Rica
March 4, 2010

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon, we are going to begin our (inaudible) Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas. At the main table, we have the President of the Republic Mr. Oscar Arias, the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica Bruno Stagno, the Secretary of State of the United States Madam Hillary Clinton, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Dominican Republic Clara Quinones, the Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica Marco Vinicio Ruiz. We are going to begin with words from the foreign minister of Costa Rica.

FOREIGN MINISTER STAGNO: (Via interpreter) Good day to everyone. Thank you for joining us. As you know, we have just wrapped up this third ministerial meeting of Pathways to Prosperity. I would like to briefly address this initiative. It was created about 18 months ago. We held a first meeting at the head of state level in September of 2008, which was the formal launching of the initiative. And in the last 18 months, we have held three ministerial meetings.

The initiative today covers 14 countries of this hemisphere and there are three observer nations – Belize, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago. The countries that are part of this initiative today represent about 65 percent of the population of the hemisphere and 73 percent of its territory. But even more importantly, we represent more than 80 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s GDP and a significant amount of world GDP, which is 29 percent.

But we have a very specific feature here which is that we have and north-and-south axis that goes from Canada to Chile, which means that this initiative is 14,600 kilometers long in area, which presents opportunities and challenges. One of the challenges, specifically one which today was a subject at the ministerial meeting, which was also part of the conversation that was held among the technical experts, has to do with taking concrete measures to reduce costs and the logistical delays by virtue of these great distances that do separate us but at the same time unite us.

Moreover, we are adopting a ministerial declaration which will be handed out to all of you that covers all of the different work within this initiative, all of our intentions, all of our aims that we want to carry out as we move forward with Pathways to Prosperity, especially in light of the next ministerial which will take place in the Dominican Republic next year.

So I’m going to wrap up with that. I want to thank all of you for your presence and, above all, I want to thank you for all of the convergence that was achieved here between the participating countries – among the participating countries which recognize the challenges and opportunities that free trade stands for, the opportunities for the development of our people.

MODERATOR: Next, the floor goes to the Secretary of State of the United States, Madam Hillary Clinton.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much for hosting this conference and I appreciate the foreign minister’s management of the meeting and it’s a great honor to be here with President Arias. Costa Rica is a champion for the values and goals that we all share, from its global leadership on environmental sustainability to its efforts to promote regional unity, development, and stability. And the success of President Arias in mediating seemingly intractable conflicts is a testament to his moral leadership and to Costa Rica’s credibility. We saw this once again with his work during the crisis in Honduras.

So it is a pleasure to be back here in Costa Rica for this very important ministerial. And it is also very exciting to have our Dominican friends with us, and I’m looking forward to the meeting in the Dominican Republic next year. I want to thank President Fernandez and the Dominican people for the generosity and solidarity that you have shown to the people of Haiti. It has been extraordinarily important.

These recent hemisphere challenges – the coup in Honduras, the earthquake in Haiti, the terrible earthquake now in Chile – have tested our capacity and our will to respond collectively. And I believe we are meeting that challenge together. We have to extend this spirit of cooperation, however, beyond times of crisis to help us meet the common challenges we face every day. President Arias summarized those in his closing remarks. We are on the pathway to prosperity; we want to arrive. We want to be able to see the benefits of the hard work of the people in the Americas.

And that’s what this program is all about. It is a forum for nations committed to democracy and open markets to share best practices and smart ideas for promoting social and financial inclusion and widening the circle of inclusive prosperity. I think we have a lot to learn from each other. The Americas are one of the world’s most dynamic and diverse regions. And we can do more to move toward greater regional integration.

Talent is present everywhere; you can visit any town or school from Alaska to Patagonia, and you’ll see it. But unfortunately, opportunity is far from universal. Too many people in too many places never have the chance to realize their dreams of starting a business, pursuing an education, or lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. So the United States will be focusing on several Pathways initiatives to support entrepreneurs and create new opportunities across the Americas.

But I want to echo one of the important comments by President Arias. There have to be changes in government policies in order to promote these solutions, whether it is creating the opportunity for collateral for secured transactions in Honduras or raising the tax rates on the wealthy in other countries to fund public services like schools, we’re not just talking about micro-interventions. We’re talking about assisting individuals and businesses, but promoting broader change in order to realize the objectives we share.

So we will promote the establishment of small business development centers to help new enterprises get off the ground and start creating jobs. We will increase our support and mentoring for women entrepreneurs who are often overlooked or excluded. We will work with our partners to modernize laws governing lending to help small and medium size businesses, and to develop more efficient and effective customs clearance processes which are crucial to attracting foreign investment and facilitating commerce. And we will encourage our Pathways partners to consider tariff relief for goods they import from Haiti, because Haitians need a functioning economy, not just international aid, to build a sustainable future.

How will we tell whether we’re being successful? Only when we see the changes in people’s lives across our hemisphere. Conferences, initiatives, partnerships of all kinds are only useful if they produce results and if we embrace a spirit of shared responsibility. So today, in my remarks, I urged all Pathways partners to establish concrete plans of action, measure the progress of our programs, meet our obligations, and share the results. And hopefully, when we meet again in the Dominican Republic, we will have progress to celebrate, and even more good ideas to share.

So again, let me thank our host and applaud the hard work and commitment of all of the countries represented here today.

MODERATOR: Next, we are going to end this session with a speech from Clara Quinones, the foreign minister of the Dominican Republic.

DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER QUINONES: (Via interpreter) Good day, everyone. President Arias, my utmost respect and my congratulations for you in putting together this conference. I think we have made progress on the initiatives – the result of this initiative. I’ve had the honor of sharing the session with Madam Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, who has been very enthusiastic in her work with this initiative. We’re very glad to have her here for the push that she provides.

The Dominican Republic is honored to be the host of the next ministerial meeting of this Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas initiative next year. President Fernandez as well as the entire Dominican people will take on this responsibility with great enthusiasm and you should all be very sure that we are going to take an active role in all of the different working groups so that the Dominican Republic can do a proper assessment, as the Secretary of State has said, of the progress that has been achieved, and the most essential part of this initiative also, which is that free trade and the benefits of globalization should have benefits for the poorest, for the people who are most at risk.

I want to make use of this opportunity to mention the tragic situation that our brothers in Chile are going through in this catastrophe. I want to express our solidarity with the people and Government of Chile, and I want to reiterate our commitment toward Haiti, our neighbor that, as we know, has been destroyed – its capital, Port-au-Prince, on the last 12th of January. We have a commitment toward Haiti. President Fernandez is working very hard with the international community, with President Preval, with the donors, so as to – so that on the 2nd of June the Dominican Republic will host a world summit on Haiti, Haiti’s reconstruction. It’s a great opportunity for all of us to contribute with a long and medium-term program to rebuild Haiti. We are talking about the great need of resources (inaudible) the international community, all of our friends, help this country so that they can recover from that catastrophe which affected all of the Haitian people. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Next we are going to have three questions, previously agreed to, with the national and international media. To begin with, we have a question from (inaudible), a journalist from La Nacion, here in Costa Rica.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon, thank you very much. Unfortunately, given the growth of trade, the drug trafficking cartels have also grown. Madam Clinton, it will be important to know if with your visit here to President Arias, will there be more cooperation, will there be greater agreements on combating drug trafficking specifically?

And if I may, I would also like to hear your comment in – the new first female president of this country’s coming to power. And I was wondering if that has a special significance that there’s a new female president on the continent. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to your second question, I am delighted that Costa Rica has elected a woman president, a highly qualified, serious woman. I look forward to meeting with her this afternoon. It won’t surprise you to hear that I think two of the best words in any language are “Madam President,” so I am very excited for this choice that Costa Rica made.

With respect to the scourge of drug trafficking, we’re well aware that the Central American countries are bearing a greater burden in combating these criminal cartels today than they were in the past. As you know, we have worked very closely with Colombia, with Mexico, and with the Central American countries. We believe strongly that governments have to be strengthened. They have to be given the tools and resources necessary to combat these criminal elements, to build strong, non-corrupt police forces. And we will continue to do what we can in partnership with the governments throughout the region.

We also have stated very clearly that we understand the United States bears part of the responsibility for the challenges that governments are confronting. The demand in the American market is centered in the United States and we are trying to do more to lower that demand. So we are trying to do our part both in our own country and in partnership with countries like Costa Rica and others. But we must restore law and order. Citizen security is one of our highest priorities, and we will work together to achieve that.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) The next question comes from the international media based here in Costa Rica. This is from Nancy Delemos.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon, Madam Hillary. I would like to go into a little more detail about drug trafficking. Is there a specific proposal from the U.S. Government as far as the repeated requests from Central America to increase resources under the Merida plan? In fact, President Arias has emphatically, on several occasions, has insisted that the countries here in the region need more resources and that the Merida plan has centered mainly on Mexico. So that’s related to (inaudible) question.

Another question is, toward the end of your Latin American tour, how do you feel about the balance after a visit to Brazil, where you didn’t get President President Lula’s support for the Iran sanctions? And yesterday, the foreign minister was very critical about your visit to the region. He said that you were dividing the countries of the – of Central America. So what is your take on the relationship between the U.S. and Central America in light of those events?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to Merida, we are increasing the aid that will be coming to Central America because we recognize that you need more resources. And there are many different aspects of what we want to do in partnership with the countries of Central America. Maritime security, obviously, is one. Increasing the capacity of police, judiciary, resources. Working to weed out corruption – I was impressed with the recent announcements coming out of Guatemala with arrests of high-ranking officials for corruption. So there’s a lot to be done. And we are increasing our efforts, including our financial efforts.

With respect to the region, I don’t know what you’re referring to. We had excellent discussions in Brazil with both the foreign minister and the president. We share the same goal. The goal is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. There is no difference in the goals between the United States and Brazil. There is a perceived difference in the best way to achieve that goal. Brazil believes that through continuing outreach and negotiations, they might be able to persuade Iran to come to the negotiating table. The United States has been attempting that. President Obama personally has reached out to the Iranians for more than a year. And unfortunately, we have seen no evidence that this approach is a fruitful one. Therefore, we are working with a number of countries in the United Nations to present new sanctions to the Security Council. And we are working to achieve broad-based support for that, and we expect to be able to do so.

And finally, on Central America, again, I don’t know what you’re referring to, but the United States believes strongly in democracy and we are supporting the return of constitutional democracy to Honduras. The election which was held was by all observers found to be free, fair, and legitimate. President Lobo has moved quickly to implement many of the recommendations that first came from President Arias’s work on the San Jose accords and then were incorporated into the Tegucigalpa Accord. He has a unity government. He has a truth commission that will be stood up. He expedited the safe departure of former President Zelaya. And we think that Honduras has taken important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and the normalization of relations.

I have just sent a letter to the Congress of the United States notifying them that we will be restoring aid to Honduras. Other countries in the region say that they want to wait a while. I don’t know what they’re waiting for, but that’s their right, to wait. We believe that President Lobo and his administration have taken the steps necessary to restore democracy. And we share the condemnation of the coup that occurred, but we think it’s time to move forward and ensure that such disruptions of democracy do not and cannot happen in the future.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Lastly, this is a question for the traveling press corps with the Secretary of State. The question comes from Daniel Dombey of the Financial Times.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, forgive me, if I can, I’d like to ask a question about Washington, to bring you back to Washington for a moment.

Before entering the Administration, both you and President Obama supported the campaign to label the Ottoman era massacres of Armenians as genocide. In recent days, both you and he have made direct appeals to Howard Berman, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, against a House resolution, a draft House resolution that would make precisely such a labeling of those events. Despite that, he is supporting the resolution and the committee is poised to vote. Could you explain why you and the President have reversed course on this issue and what’s at stake in this vote? Thanks very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think circumstances have changed in very significant ways. When President Obama took office and I became Secretary of State, we determined that the process undertaken by the Swiss in bringing the Turkey – Turkish and Armenian governments together was a very worthy one that we intended to support, and we have done so. I was personally in Zurich at the time that the protocols for the normalization of relationship between the two countries were signed. We think that is the appropriate way to manage the problems that have stood in the way of normalization between the two countries.

Within the protocols, there was an agreed-upon approach to establishing a historical commission to look at events in the past. I do not think it is for any other country to determine how two countries resolve matters between them, to the extent that actions that the United States might take could disrupt this process. Therefore, both President Obama and I have made clear, both last year and again this year, that we do not believe any action by the Congress is appropriate, and we oppose it.

Now, the committee that you referred to has voted out such a resolution, I think three times in the past. They’re likely to vote it out again. But we do not believe that the full Congress will or should act upon that resolution, and we have made that clear to all the parties involved.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. This is the end of our press conference. Good afternoon.

Read Full Post »

Well, Secretary Clinton flew to Costa Rica overnight and was busy there at the Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial Meeting where she made the remarks that follow. I apologize for getting this up so late, but I, too, had a busy day (and will have a much busier one tomorrow). I could not post a Daily Schedule since there was none posted or sent out. Well, no harm, here is part of her day.

In these photos, we see her with outgoing President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias,  President-elect Laura Chinchilla,  and small business owners.

Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
San Jose, Costa Rica
March 4, 2010

I look around this table and I see nations dedicated to strengthening democracy, spreading opportunities, and promoting inclusive prosperity throughout the Americas.

Since we were together last year in El Salvador, our region has been tested by a number of crises, including the political upheaval in Honduras and the devastating earthquake in Haiti and Chile. I was in Santiago two days ago, where I had the opportunity to meet and consult with both President Bachelet and President-elect Pinera. And it is so important that we all, once again, come to the aid of our neighbors. Assistance is starting to flow in from across the hemisphere and it is reminiscent, tragically, of the great efforts made to support our friends in Haiti.

Chile was one of the first to respond to Haiti’s earthquake. The Chilean rescue and recovery workers performed heroic efforts. They worked around the clock to find and rescue survivors. Now it is time to stand with both Chile and Haiti as they recover and rebuild.

These emergencies highlight the strength of our ties as neighbors, partners, and friends, and they amplify the importance of the work we are doing through Pathways. We are here to help create conditions that enable people to obtain the economic and social opportunities critical to national and regional stability and progress. Whether our countries are seeking to defuse threats to democracy, protect against the effects of natural disasters, or build long-term prosperity, it is vital that we spread the benefits of economic growth and integration to more people in more places.

In our region, prosperity has widened in recent decades. We’ve worked to promote growth and create jobs through sound fiscal policy, bilateral trade agreements, multilateral pacts like NAFTA and CAFTA-DR, and institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank. But for too many people in too many places, including in my own country, opportunity is limited and fleeting.

So through Pathways, we are working to close the opportunity gap that exists for the farmers, craft people, and small business owners who are excluded from financial services and who lack access to global markets. We seek to engage women and historically marginalized populations such as indigenous peoples and Afro descendents to give them the chance to contribute to and share in the broader economic progress. And as the number of young people across the hemisphere rises, we are working together to make sure that the number of schools, access to higher education, and jobs rise as well.

What I like about Pathways to Prosperity is that it provides a critical forum where nations committed to democracy and open markets can share the best practices for promoting social and financial inclusion. We can and must learn from each other. The Americas, as we heard from the minister from Costa Rica, are one of the world’s most dynamic and diverse regions, with a strong economic base that is evident in the multitude of creative solutions already at work in our countries. And I’ve had a chance to see these solutions in practice.

In El Salvador, a public-private partnership has provided credit to small and medium size businesses, sparking entrepreneurship, and raising family incomes. In Brazil, where I was yesterday, I met with a group of businesses that represented partnership between Brazilian and U.S. Governments, and over 100 U.S. companies called Mais Unidos, which promotes corporate social responsibility, job training, English language training, especially for at-risk Brazilian young people, so that they too have the tools to compete.

And like you, I have followed the progress that Uruguay and Panama have made towards spreading the benefits of the digital age through initiatives that distribute laptops to children. I was just in Uruguay, meeting with the out-going president and now-president Mujica, and their “one laptop per child” program has given a great boost to learning and access to the wider world. Legislation passed in Honduras makes credit now available to farmers and small businesses through secured transactions. Every single one of these programs can be a model for the rest of us, and that is what I hope comes from our meeting today.

And I want to recognize our host, Costa Rica, a global leader in environmental sustainability. Costa Rica co-hosted a conference in January with the Organization of American States on how to encourage public participation in environmental decision making. Yesterday, the EARTH Institute here in Costa Rica led a discussion on the business challenges and opportunities facing women in the Americas, and the Rainforest Alliance, Wal-Mart, and other organizations discussed their efforts to bring micro-enterprises into global supply chains. That is a critical element of sustainable and inclusive development.

Now, none of these programs or policies will close the opportunity gap on its own. But together, they move us toward the goal of giving all people of the Americas the chance to fulfill their God-given potential, to earn a living, receive an education, participate in the global economy, and if they choose, to start or expand a business.

I am so impressed by the people in our hemisphere. I’ve traveled throughout this hemisphere for 17 years now, and I meet people with smart ideas, a great work ethic, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit everywhere. What I have concluded is that talent is universal, but opportunity is not. They just need a chance to show what they can do, to compete in a business environment that is fair and secure. And together, we can help provide for that.

To that end, the United States will be focusing on several Pathway initiatives to support entrepreneurs across the hemisphere. First, we’ve had success in our country with the creation of small business development centers where people can go to get information and advice about starting a business. Some Pathway countries have adopted this model, and we’re looking to share it with others by organizing exchange visits between countries.

Second, we are supporting women entrepreneurs across the hemisphere. We know that women still today are often overlooked or excluded, especially when they go for credit. I’ve had women say to me, “A lot of dreams die in the parking lots of banks.”

So even though these women are innovative, energetic, hardworking, and committed, we’re not doing enough to support their businesses and efforts. Last October, the United States hosted a conference for women entrepreneurs from the Americas. And we’ve launched a mentoring network to connect experienced women business leaders with women who are just starting out. In the coming months, we’ll work with you to deepen and expand that network.

Third, we want to help our partners in Pathways modernize customs procedures, something that was also mentioned by the Costa Ricans. Efficient and effective customs practices are critical to attracting foreign investment and succeeding in global markets. Now, several countries in Pathways are also members of APEC. The members of APEC have agreed to reduce our trade logistics delays and costs by 5 percent. And I challenge the other members of Pathways to work with us to do the same. The United States will sponsor workshops for public and private sector officials to share best practices for improving customs procedures. At APEC, we looked at research which showed that these small changes in customs procedures that have a direct and significant impact on improving business opportunities in every country.

Fourth, trade requires effective communication. This year, we have offered 100 teachers from Pathways countries training in English language instruction, and over 400,000 students across the region are learning English at the 140 bi-national centers we support. This is work we are committed to continuing, and I’d like to ask our partners in Pathways to make this a mutual exchange. Millions of U.S. citizens speak Spanish as a first or second language, or are learning how to speak it. With your help, we can have even more U.S. citizens learning Spanish, and that will increase our trade and business ties.

Fifth, we are working to help small and medium-sized enterprises decrease the amount of water, energy, and raw materials they need to protect natural resources, shrink carbon emissions, and save costs.

Sixth and finally, the United States is committed to working with our Pathways partners to modernize laws that govern lending so that small and medium size businesses can use assets other than real estate as collateral for loans. I visited the display that Honduras has, and they showed me the kind of equipment that can now serve as collateral in Honduras because Honduras has changed their laws: sewing machines, tool boxes, farm equipment.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the source of employment for many of our citizens. We must give them the chance to borrow larger amounts at lower interest rates with longer repayment periods if we’re going to make it easier for these enterprises to thrive. And I commend Honduras for the model programs that they are implementing.

Let me say a word about the importance of job creation in Haiti. One of the great stories about this horrible tragedy in Haiti is that before the earthquake, working with the Government of Haiti, many of the countries around the table were committed to long-term development projects. Shortly before the earthquake, my husband, who works with the secretary general of the United Nations, brought over 500 business leaders from across our hemisphere to Haiti to sign contracts, to open factories, expand businesses, to develop tourism.

Last spring, I visited a garment factory in Haiti that was a powerful engine for local economic growth. At that time, apparel exports made up approximately 90 percent of all exports from Haiti and supported 28,000 jobs. We expected that to grow many times over. Since the earthquake, many of Haiti’s factories are coming back online. Many others, however, are still closed, and their workers out of work. Getting Haiti’s industry moving again will help the immediate recovery effort and stimulate future growth.

The United States has a trade preference program called Haiti HOPE, H-O-P-E, which extends our most favorable tariffs and terms on Haitian exports of textiles and apparel. Our Congress is considering bills that may help Haitian producers even more. Other countries have also taken such steps. Canada, for example, has an excellent program that allows Haitian products to enter tariff-free.

I am sure that many of you heard about the moving conversation yesterday between women entrepreneurs in Haiti and elsewhere in the region. This one conversation reflects the deep sense of solidarity that people across the hemisphere feel for the people of Haiti. I encourage members of Pathways to channel that solidarity into new economic opportunities for the Haitian people, particularly with new market opportunities in your countries. And together, we can help Haiti recover better and build back even stronger.

Now, we won’t reach the goals, the very ambitious goals that we have set, but we will make progress through persistent experimentation and collaboration. We must identify those programs and policies that are really working and move away from those that are not. And I hope all of us will establish concrete plans of action with accountability measures that really look hard at how well we are doing and demand results from these programs. And we should increase our collaboration through other partnerships as well – the Inter-American Social Protection Network launched last year in the United Nations General Assembly. And the United States is looking forward to working with all of you on innovative ways to reduce social inequalities and improve the work of public institutions.

I was reminded again that wherever we live in the Americas, whatever our heritage, whatever language we speak, we all want the same thing: the chance to live safe and healthy lives; to see our families productive and moving toward a better future; to participate fully in our communities; and to do all that we can to extend those opportunities to others. I think we are building on a strong foundation, and I am very pleased to participate once again in this ministerial. And I look forward to working with all of you in the days, months, and years ahead. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Read Full Post »

Hillary Clinton to give keynote
speech at Costa Rica event

Hillary Clinton, the United States secretary of state, will be in Costa Rica next week as part of a Latin America tour that also will include Brazil, Chile, Guatemala and Uruguay, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday.

Clinton will visit this Central American country, a close U.S. ally, on March 3, where she will be the keynote speaker at the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Ministerial Meeting. Clinton has said she believes the Pathways initiative, a 14 nation – network to promote the benefits of free trade, will help improve the distribution of economic benefits to women, rural farmers and small businesses, as well as to indigenous and Afro-descendents who have been left on the sidelines of the open market.


Read Full Post »

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
New York, NY
September 21, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is always an honor to meet with President Arias and exchange views on a lot of the issues that not only affect our hemisphere but, indeed, the entire world, because he is a global leader (inaudible) respected across the planet.

Today, of course, we talked about Honduras and the return of President Zelaya. Certainly, the United States supports the San Jose Accords that President Arias negotiated, but it’s imperative that dialogue begin, that there be a channel of communication between President Zelaya and the de facto regime in Honduras. And it’s also imperative that the return of President Zelaya does not lead to any conflict or violence, but instead, that everyone act in a peaceful way to try to find some common ground.

Once again, the Costa Ricans will be using their good offices to try to encourage that to occur, because now that President Zelaya is back, it would be opportune to restore him to his position under appropriate circumstances, get on with the election that is currently scheduled for November, have a peaceful transition of presidential authority, and get Honduras back to constitutional and democratic order in a very – on a very clear path toward that goal.

So that’s what we are hoping to see, but let me turn now to President Arias.

PRESIDENT ARIAS: I think this is the best opportunity, the best time, now that Zelaya is back in his country (inaudible) to sign the San Jose Accord. It’s all we have on the table. There is no B plan. And when we wrote this San Jose Accords, it was after listening to everybody (inaudible).

Perhaps the main difficulty has been for Zelaya to be accepted by the de facto government (inaudible) constitutional president of Honduras. But now that he’s back, we just have to put more pressure (inaudible) the whole world, the Europeans, and (inaudible) the U.S. has been very helpful (inaudible) a lot of pressure on the de facto government, as well as lot of Latin America. But I think it is now the right time for them to sign it.

QUESTION: Was his return counterproductive? A question to both of you: Do you think that his return is setting talks back?

PRESIDENT ARIAS: No. I mean, I’m sorry, I didn’t —

QUESTION: Would you say the return is counterproductive?

PRESIDENT ARIAS: No, I don’t see it (inaudible). I mean, if he’s back – I don’t know, he got in, but I think it makes it easier to (inaudible) for us to put some more pressure on the de facto government to sign the San Jose Accord and – well, there is need for more dialogue, for sure. That dialogue can take place in Tegucigalpa or in San Jose, Costa Rica, if it was necessary. But the main difficulty has been Zelaya’s return. Now that he’s back, it’s going to be much easier.

QUESTION: Do you see a danger that the de facto government may act against President Zelaya? I mean, after all, these are the people who hustled him onto a plane in the middle of the night. Have you sought to warn the de facto government against taking actions against (inaudible) or doing anything else to interfere with his ability to speak?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have certainly communicated very directly our expectation that there will be order and no provocation on either side. This is not just a one-sided request. It goes to both sides. Both sides have supporters who need to be restrained and careful in their actions in the days ahead.

But as President Arias said, now is the moment for the two sides to try to work out an agreement to the benefit of the people of Honduras. And as President Arias said, it’s hard to think about how they will come up with something other than the San Jose Accords. They’re – they represent an enormous amount of time, effort, and participation by both sides.

But the important thing is that they begin the dialogue. And if they can come up with their own agreement, we would be fine with that. We just want to see this matter resolved peacefully, with an understanding that there will be the remainder of President Zelaya’s term to be respected, that the elections can go on, that there will be a peaceful transfer of power. I think everyone knows what the milestones need to be. It’s just a question of persuading and convincing and using our best efforts to try to get both sides to reach that point.

QUESTION: Have you warned them today that (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have. We have warned – we have spoken directly to multiple parties and very clearly said that there had to be calm and peace in the streets. I think that the government imposed a curfew, we just learned, to try to get people off the streets so that there couldn’t be unforeseen developments. But there ultimately in the next hours has to be some effort to bring the parties together to resolve this between them.

QUESTION: Would it make sense for President Arias to go himself to make sure that things do go smoothly? It seems that the risks are high. On one hand, you’ve got pressure to solve the problem, but you also have the risk that it could all backfire.

PRESIDENT ARIAS: Yes, I would be willing to go, but if both sides, both parties, ask me to go to Tegucigalpa, I would (inaudible).

PRN: 2009/T12-8

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: