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Supporting Growth In Central America

A worker picks coffee beans on a plantation on the slopes of the Poas Volcano, northwest of the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica.

Over the past two decades, Latin America has made tremendous strides forward

Over the past two decades, Latin America has made tremendous strides forward, wrote President Barack Obama in a recent newspaper editorial.

Supporting Growth In Central America
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“Today, almost all the people of the Americas live in democracies. Latin America has some of the world’s fastest growing economies. And across the region, tens of millions of people have escaped poverty and entered the middle class,” he noted.

“Broad-based economic growth is reinforcing the hard-won political and social gains of the last two decades. And that’s why I reaffirmed the United States’ strong support and commitment to building a more prosperous Central America.”

In today’s intensely competitive global environment, said President Obama when he met with Central American leaders in Costa Rica, “it’s important for us to recognize that if the hemisphere is working effectively together, all of us benefit. And if we’re not, then we will lose in that competition to other regions.”

There are a number of steps the United States and our neighbors can take to improve our region’s competitive edge, said President Obama. We must improve the region’s infrastructure such as roads, bridges, border crossings, customs, and telecommunications networks.

This also includes power grids, which leads us to the next requirement: improvements to the production and delivery of affordable, clean energy. Reducing energy costs is a must, because high power costs make an economy inefficient, burden people with high prices and impede economic growth. Deployment of communications broadband technology could also spur significant economic gains.

Also, we must invest in education and training to produce the highest skilled workers in the world. And because we can’t succeed with just half the team, this applies equally to men and women, and must include those who live and struggle in marginalized communities.

Finally, we must ensure our citizens are secure from violence. “We know what a major toll it’s taken,” said President Obama, and “we are interested in cooperating with every country around issues of citizen security.”

“As governments, our job is to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to provide security and opportunity and ladders for success and prosperity for our people,” said President Obama. “Economic growth that creates jobs, security for people so that they can be safe in their own neighborhoods, and development that allows people to live in dignity.”