Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso and Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong co-hosted the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America in Miami, Florida on June 15-16, 2017, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, and attended by President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala, President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, Vice President Oscar Ortiz of El Salvador, Mexican Finance Secretary José Antonio Meade Kuribreña and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Additional participants included U.S. and Latin American private sector leaders and international organizations and partners including Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Spain, Nicaragua, Panama, the European Union, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The conference participants discussed policies and actions to promote sustainable and inclusive development, investment, growth and improved conditions for the region's citizens, based on the fundamental principle of respect for each nation's sovereignty and legislation. They also discussed regional integration, infrastructure and the integration of energy markets to create a favorable climate for investment and growth, the fight against transnational organized crime and ways to promote regional security cooperation, improve citizen security and institutional capacity building to combat corruption and impunity.
Secretaries Videgaray and Osorio Chong relayed to their counterparts President Enrique Peña Nieto's conviction that Mexico, as a member of the international community, is aware that only by acting together can we successfully overcome transnational challenges. We must acknowledge that we have a shared responsibility to address issues such as migration, security and development.
The link between migration and sustainable development is irrefutable. It is not merely a security issue and it will not be resolved solely on the basis of measures to control immigration. We must tackle the structural causes of this issue, encouraging development that allows for more and better opportunities.
We must also foster an inclusive economy that helps us improve the quality of life of our citizens, reduce poverty levels, improve justice systems and ensure the protection of labor rights, gender equity and the rights of indigenous peoples, in addition to safeguarding the environment.
Therefore, Mexico's commitment to Central America is to contribute to the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in order to address the global challenges. With a view to achieving this goal, we seek to strengthen institutions and encourage private sector investment to create jobs and economic opportunities; to contribute to domestic efforts to dismantle transnational criminal organizations; and to combat drug trafficking, human trafficking and smuggling, observing national sovereignty at all times.
The Mexican government acknowledges the strong commitment made by all countries and partners participating in the conference to give impetus to innovative partnerships that will add to the region's efforts.
Cooperation with Central America
The Central American region is a priority for Mexico's international development cooperation. Our country has committed to helping to strengthen institutions, facilitate regional integration and competitiveness, and create resilient societies with a focus on inclusive development.
The Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation, AMEXCID, coordinates bilateral technical, scientific and academic cooperation programs of regional mechanisms and in strategic partnerships with other aid donors, the private sector and civil society. Among Mexico's most far-reaching efforts are its initiatives designed to help achieve the goals of the Mesoamerican Integration and Development Project (MP). The MP is the regional integration and development mechanism that leverages the complementarity and cooperation between Central America, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. It focuses on key areas such as energy integration, transportation, trade facilitation, telecommunications, food security, public health, environmental sustainability, risk management and housing.
Mexican financial cooperation is channeled through the Infrastructure Fund for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean (Yucatan Fund). From 2012 to 2017, USD 129.7 million has been earmarked for 16 projects in 11 countries. 78% of funding for Central America helps to rehabilitate and modernize sections of the International Mesoamerican Highway System (RICAM), an MP program to further interconnect the region. Specifically, Mexico has approved USD 53.76 million for three Norther Triangle projects: one in Honduras and two in El Salvador.
Regarding economic integration, the Mexican, United States and Northern Triangle governments reaffirmed the importance of trade between our countries and the need to make progress eliminating non-tariff barriers and other obstacles preventing the facilitation of trade and the ease of doing business. In fiscal matters, Mexico offered technical assistance to Honduras to explore implementation of electronic invoicing.
We must pool our efforts to capitalize on the different instruments available to us in the region, such as the Alliance for Prosperity, the Mesoamerica Project and the Yucatan Fund, so that we coordinate our efforts, create synergies and avoid duplication, in order to have a higher impact.
Commitment to Prosperity
For Mexico, the conference is an achievement in and of itself, because we were able to find synergies among partners, exchange best practices, reinforce successful initiatives and renew our international development cooperation in the region with a comprehensive strategy.
To further integrate energy markets, participating governments that require national transmission upgrades confirmed financing for upgrades that will maximize the use of the SIEPAC transmission line. On energy issues, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced it will organize a Ministerial meeting by April 2018 and encourage members of the Mexico-SIEPAC Interconnection Commission (CIEMS) to present legal, technical, regulatory and infrastructure proposals on Mexico's interconnectivity with the Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC).
For Mexico, the meeting will be an opportunity to learn about the progress made on a general market design between Mexico and Central America's regional electricity market and transmission infrastructure to connect Mexico and SIEPAC, which are supported by the IDB. This is important for Mexico and the countries of the region because it will boost competitiveness and development, reduce costs and enhance prosperity.
Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries reiterated their continued interest in regional gas market integration and in strengthening their institutional frameworks with the help of the necessary pre-feasibility studies and technical advice.
The private sector and international financial institutions identified solutions to simplify and improve transparency in trade and customs procedures, strengthen energy security, develop infrastructure and create jobs. We welcome the agreement for the Americas Business Dialogue to establish a working group to address these issues with the Northern Triangle countries.
It is important to note that involving the private sector to a greater degree in the region does not mean discounting the importance and impact of promoting and developing micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are key actors on the path to reducing poverty and promoting sustained economic growth.
Enhancing Regional Security
Mexico's clear and ongoing readiness to help strengthen security in the Northern Triangle nations can be seen in the the noteworthy results achieved to date by the cooperation programs in the region.
An example of this is Mexico's key role in institution building by training 3,204 Immigration, Intelligence, Law Enforcement, Public Security, Community-based Crime and Violence Prevention and Customs and officials in Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran agencies from 2013-2017. This is the result of the successful cross-cutting collaboration between the various participating Mexican and Central American institutions.
Mexico has given priority to bilateral cooperation on security within the High-Level Security Groups (GANSEG), which has become a flexible and efficient means of inter-institutional coordination and institution buiding with the Northern Triangle countries. Through these groups, we train officials, coordinate information exchanges and plan operations. These groups have enabled us to rescue migrants and capture members of transnational criminal organizations, among other actions.
The Mexican government reaffirms its commitment to continue supporting the efforts of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras through joint work, ongoing communication and intensive and continual training to ensure a safer and more prosperous region. Mexico is also pleased to serve as a reference for the Northern Triangle countries as they organize security cooperation amongst themselves based on their bilateral agreements with Mexico.
Commitment to Security
The regional governments agreed to training programs and equipment delivery for targeting transnational criminal organizations, in order to strengthen the capabilities of the governments of the Northern Triangle nations.
It was also agreed to explore the creation of early warning protocols for trafficking in drugs, weapons, money and other illicit goods, to reduce the operational capabilities of the criminal groups in the region.
The participating governments agreed to explore opportunities to enhance border security - both maritime and terrestrial - through cooperation, and to boost the exchange of information to identify and dismantle drug trafficking organizations and smuggling rings operating in the region.
In order to improve citizen security, the nations of the region agreed to identify the priority areas that require additional strengthening at the local level, in order to encourage people to report crimes.
The participating governments expressed their desire to continue their efforts to strengthen judicial institutions, streamline the cooperation mechanisms for mutual legal assistance and extradition and the agile informal mechanisms for exchanging information for the effective investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses, to combat illegal finances and money laundering.
Commitments for Continued Engagement
The Mexican, United States and Northern Triangle governments agreed to use existing mechanisms to review and follow up on the conference commitments.