President George W. Bush has doubled economic assistance to the Western Hemisphere since taking office to over one-point-six billion dollars per year and provided almost nine-hundred million dollars more through the Millennium Challenge Corporation to support transparency in government and social spending by Latin American countries.
Mr. Bush has now introduced a series of initiatives to help the countries of Latin America extend health care, education and economic opportunity to millions of working poor:
“The goal of this great country, the goal of a country full of generous people, is an Americas where the dignity of every person is respected, where all find room at the table, and where opportunity reaches into every village and every home.”
Among the many initiatives: the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort will be deployed to twelve Latin American countries, where its staff will provide health care services for up to one-hundred-thousand patients. Military medical teams will also partner with fourteen Latin American governments to deliver medical services as part of scheduled medical readiness training exercises. And a new U.S.-sponsored training center will be established in Panama to increase the number of health care workers across Central America.
With thirty-four democracies now active in the Organization of American States, said Mr. Bush, Latin America has made great strides:
“From New York, Rio de Janeiro [Brazil]to Buenos Aires [Argentina] and Montreal, we speak different languages, but our democracies all [derive] their legitimacy from the same source – the consent of the governed,”
But amid the prosperity, tens of millions of people in Latin America remain in grinding poverty. One in four, said President Bush, live on less than two dollars a day:
“Many children never finish grade school. Many mothers never see a doctor. In an age of growing prosperity and abundance, this is a scandal, and it's a challenge.”
With U.S. help, Mr. Bush said, countries can further the cause of social justice by meeting basic necessities like education, health care and housing, promoting strong, effective governance and helping facilitate economic growth to allow citizens to realize their full potential.