Central American leaders urge broader partnerships to advance development and opportunities for youth

Michael Marshall
March 22, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC— Members of the Latin American Presidential Mission marked the 30th anniversary of the Esquipulas Accords that ended decades of conflict in Central America by proposing a revival of the Esquipulas process to address the region’s current problems during a visit to Washington this week.

A panel of experts joined five former Central American Presidents at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC on March 16 to examine regional solutions to address challenges of economic opportunity, high crime and migration with new partnerships in the Americas. Panel moderator Israel Ortega of Opportunity Live News Organization (far left) facilitated a discussion with former Presidents (from left) Vinicio Cerezo and Alvaro Colom of Guatemala, Nicholas Ardito Barletta of Panama, and Armando Calderon of El Salvador. Inset Left: Carlos Raul Morales, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guatemala Inset Right: Laura Chinchilla, former president of Costa Rica

Regional challenges include extreme poverty and income inequality that fuel high levels of violence and drive illegal immigration to the U.S. The Esquipulas approach calls for an integrated strategy among all the region’s nations with U.S. support.

The group of former Central American presidents met at the Organization of American States, on Capitol Hill and at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center with policymakers and representatives of civil society, think tanks, and business. They provided updates on current dynamics in the region and proposed partnerships across the Americas focused on innovative, values-based solutions.

The presidents included Vinicio Cerezo and Alvaro Colom of Guatemala, Armando Calderón of El Salvador, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, and Nicolas Ardito Barletta of Panama.

The group offered a civil society channel for dialogue to the bipartisan Central America Caucus and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, and to diplomats at the Organization of American States. They represent the Latin American Presidential Mission, a non-partisan, civic association of over twenty democratically elected former heads of state established in 2012 with support from the Global Peace Foundation, the Esquipulas Foundation of Guatemala, and other partners.

“I am happy that the Northern Triangle is now part of U.S. foreign policy priorities. The response to migration is to create opportunities.”

In a town hall meeting with the former presidents on Wednesday, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Morales said, “I am happy that the (Central American) Northern Triangle is now part of U.S. foreign policy priorities.” He went on to say, “The response to migration is to create opportunities.” He explained that young people in the region face three options: work in agriculture, migrate to the U.S., or join a gang.

Gloriana Sojo, a young social entrepreneur at George Washington University, said that most young Central Americans do not join gangs. “We have real aspirations and want real opportunities,” she said.

Other speakers included Anthony Kim, co-author of the annual Index of Economic Freedom, Esmeralda Lopez of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and Reuben Smith-Vaughan of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, visit www.globalpeace.org and www.misionpresidencial.com

Contact: Michael Marshall, Global Peace Foundation
[email protected]

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