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Hillary Clinton´s 5 day trip to Latin America was a big success.

U.S. SOLIDARITY WITH CHILE . -  President Michelle Bachelet and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. U.S. Ambassador to Chile Paul Simons, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela are in background

U.S. SOLIDARITY WITH CHILE . - President Michelle Bachelet and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. U.S. Ambassador to Chile Paul Simons, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela are in background

The trip  of the Secretary of State to South America was a complete success. She attended the inauguration of the Uruguayan President avoiding any clashes with Hugo Chavez (also present). In spite of Mrs. Kirchner pressure, Secretary Clinton met the Argentine President in Buenos Aires and expressed  the U.S. concern about the need of a dialogue between Argentina and Britain in regard to the Falklands but without compromising the U.S. to mediate. In Chile, Mrs. Clinton offered U.S. help to Chile and received President elect Piñera´s request for U.S. assistance in the reconstruction of hundred of thousands of homes. And in Brazil, Mrs. Clinton and the Brazilian government agreed in the need of further pressure to stop Iran´s alleged plans of building nuclear weapons. Brazil will  support the U.S. plans of further sanctions against Iran in the Security Council, but before that Brazil wants to try to get Iran to negotiate with the so called Group 5+1 (maybe with Brazil´s and Turkey´s presence in the negotiations).  Mrs. Clinton committed just one mistake during the press conference with the chilean President elect Piñera, where she wrongly stated that Chile was a member of the G-20.

  

BRAZIL TRIP. –

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - President Lula - Minister Amorim

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - President Lula - Minister Amorim

In Brazil, even Foreign Minister Amorim was enthusiastic about Mrs. Clinton success with her trip to Brazil, a crowd of photographers and Brazilian journalists followed her everywhere she´s been.

During the press conference Amorim said that he sustained very important talks with Secretary Clinton and entered into three agreements, one focusing on cooperation regarding discrimination or different forms of discrimination and violence, particularly against women and young girls. The second one on fostering a strategic dialogue on climate matters, an area that both President Lula and President Obama have devoted a lot of efforts and time while in the recent Copenhagen conference. The

third agreement was on trilateral cooperation that will encompass Haiti, Africa, and other related situations, or say, countries in Central America. They talked a lot about: Central American politics specially Honduras (Brazil has eased a little bit its position, but some things have to be done before Honduras will be readmitted in the OAS, like to settle down an agreement with Zelaya),  Middle East including Iran, Chile and Haiti (defined by Amorim like the country in greatest need at this point in time),  on the importance of successfully completing the Doha round of negotiations (Brazil is worried on the cotton subject).

On her part, Mrs. Clinton defined Brazil as a global nation with an independent mind (“just like just as the United States is”) She remarked that USA and Brazil will work together to assist Chile (as  in Haiti) , another subjects were:  Brazil’s efforts in Haiti, non nuclear nonproliferation and their mutual commitment to ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, the situation in Honduras and the progress being made there to restore constitutional democracy and the U.S. supporting of Honduras on its path to reintegration within the inter-American community (back in the OAS soon?), the work to strengthen the OAS and its respond when democratic order is subverted (like in Honduras, when Zelaya was ousted from power), a memorandum of understanding on climate change to build on the Copenhagen accord (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; redoubling US commitment to bilateral partnership in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate and energy issues), and the memorandum on trilateral development will enhance US-Brazil in the fields of social and economic inclusion and healthcare in The Americas.

Africa was also on the table: food security. Reducing malnutrition in The Americas. The need of a greater cooperation on eliminating violence against women, combating the trafficking of women and children, increasing the participation of women in decision making, improving equality and equal pay in the workplace, and creating new opportunities for women everywhere.  At a townhall meeting Mrs. Clinton mentioned a statistic that indicates that the Afro Brazilian population is slightly more than 50 percent of the country, but only two percent of the students in higher education in Brazil are Afro Brazilians. So  mrs. Clinton suggested that some special steps need to be taken to recruiting and admitting students so that they can have a chance to succeed in Brazail. She mentioned the case if the Affirmative Action (AA) in the U.S, and how this AA was an opportunity in the US to get afro americans in the door of the Universities.

The only point that rised a low profiled discussion between the two countries were the Iranian issue. Brazil (Amorim) sustains that Iran is willing to buy nuclear fuil material from other countries (the West, Russia,etc..) and U.S.A. have its doubts about it,  the U.S. sustains that Iran is trying to gain time to continue with its nuclear ambitions. On the other hand, it was obvious that Brazil is interested in taking part of a potential new round of negotiations between the so called 5+1 Group (the 5 of the Security Council plus Germany) and Iran. That is why Brazil is trying to negotiate that meeting with Iran. If  Lula/Amorim can bring iran back to the table, the international ambitions of Brazil as a permanente member of the UN Security Council will be strengthened.

 CHILE.-

Secretary Clinton and President Elect Piñera at Santiago airport, visits with Chilean volunteers packing boxes with earthquake relief supplies.

Secretary Clinton and President Elect Piñera at Santiago airport, visits with Chilean volunteers packing boxes with earthquake relief supplies.

In Chile, during her press conference with President elect Piñera, Secretary Clinton make a small “gaffe” when she said that Chile was a member of the G-20, and President Elect Piñera told her that it was not accurate.

On his part, Mr. Piñera asked Secretary Clinton for cooperation from the United States with regard to technology, by providing  good information on technology  to provide prefabricated housing quickly to 500,000 people who have been left without shelter as a result of the earthquake.

In regard to Mrs. Clinton talks with President Michelle Bachelet, the Chilean President mentioned the possibility of asking the World bank and other institutions for finantial help to rebuild the rebuilding of the country after the quake (specially the housing problem).

 

 ARGENTINA .- Clinton had originally been due to meet Fernandez on the sidelines of the Uruguayan presidential inauguration and had planned to arrive in Chile last Monday, but the Chilean earthquake shortened Clinton´s visit to Santiago (due to Bachelet tight agenda) and was why the stop in Argentina was added. The main reason was that the Chilean government is grappling with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that killed more than 800 people.

In Buenos Aires, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) met with US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and asked for “the intermediation before the United Kingdom to achieve a sit-down discussion about the Malvinas Islands, contemplating the interests of the inhabitants of the archipelago.”

On her part, Clinton committed herself to “encouraging” the dialogue and said that she “would like to see the United Kingdom and Argentina sitting down to talk” about the subject.

Hillary Clinton said tonight that her country wants to “guide the negotiations” between Argentina and Great Britain on the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands.

“This is the right way to resolve the conflicts,” added Clinton during a press conference with she offered, along with Cristina, at the end of the meeting they held for over an hour and a half.

However , an editorial published by The Washington Post was critical with President Fernandez de Kirchner and even tried to throw some shadow on Secretary Clinton. The Post´s editorial   said that “ Ms. Clinton responded by urging the two sides to talk, while wisely sidestepping the mediation suggestion. Such studied neutrality is in keeping with traditional U.S. policy on the Falklands — though it’s worth remembering that mistaken interpretation of signals from Washington helped produce Argentina´s dictatorship to the disastrous 1982 invasion. In this case it is hard to see why the Obama administration should throw any lifelines to Ms.Fernandez de Kirchner.”

READ MORE HERE.  

 
 

Hillary Clinton and President of Uruguay, José Mujica

Hillary Clinton and President of Uruguay, José Mujica

TRIP TO URUGUAY.-

Besides being at the inauguration of the new Uruguayan President José Mujica, one of the objectives of Mrs. Clinton were to persuade Mujica to continue deploying troops from Uruguay  among U.N. peacekeeping forces around the world. Mujica was already persuaded on that, so Clinton´s task was not very hard to accomplish. On the other hand, President Mujica asked the U.S, for collaboration with the Uruguayan State University (in science and technology).  Jose Mujica, a former guerrilla leader, is the latest leftist president to be elected to a Latin American country.

  

 

 

CENTRAL AMERICA.-

In Costa Rica  Clinton attended a meeting of regional foreign ministers that focused on improving economic conditions in the hemisphere. She met outgoing President Oscar Arias, who brokered an accord that ended the political crisis in Honduras last year.

Hillary Clinton shows strong commitment with  Pathways to Prosperity.

At the end of her trip south, in Costa Rica , Secretary Clinton attended the ministerial meeting of Pathways to Prosperity , and there, having Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias on her left side,  she said: “ 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.”

And then, Clinton mentioned some of the ongoing projects:

“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 the she added “ 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”.

Mrs . Clinton also mentioned Costa Rica: “ 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.”

The Secretary of State commented that  “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.”

She was impressed by the people in the Americas “ 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.”

And the she mentioned a set of policies towards the region:

1)     “ 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.

2)     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.

3)     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.

4)     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.

5)     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.

6)     Sixth, 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.”  

The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  also stated  that “ 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.”

Finally, Hillary Clinton mentioned Haiti  “ 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.”

She added 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.”.