The United States seeks to help countries in Latin America provide health care, expand economic opportunities, and invest in education. President George W. Bush highlighted this goal during the July 9th White House Conference On The Americas.
The conference was attended by government officials, regional diplomats, and representatives of two-hundred-fifty non-governmental organizations and corporate foundations from thirty-four countries. The participants exchanged ideas on how the United States can expand its efforts to improve the lives of people throughout the Americas.
One very direct way the U.S. is improving the health of Latin Americans is the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort, which is on a four-month tour of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Comfort is providing humanitarian assistance to the underprivileged and helping to ensure that local health care professionals have the tools they need to provide quality medical service.
President Bush said that the Comfort is both a symbol of the U.S. commitment to promote health in Latin America and the Caribbean and a tangible way to provide care to people in need:
"I mean, the United States -- we're strong, no question about it, but our greatest strength is our hearts. Tenemos corazones grandes aqui en este pais. [We have big hearts in this country.] We care deeply about the plight of other people. And when we see their suffering, we want to help. And the Comfort is a way for us to send a clear message that we care about the people that live in the neighborhood that we occupy together."
In the area of expanding economic opportunities, President Bush said that trade is the key to economic growth in Latin America:
"The best way to help defeat poverty is to encourage commerce and trade. We've got trade agreements we've reached with Peru and Panama and Colombia. It's really important for the United States Congress to pass these trade agreements."
Trade agreements, said President Bush, benefit workers in the United States as well as in Latin America.