Secretary Tillerson: Good afternoon everyone. I would like to acknowledge and thank Secretary Videgaray and Secretary Osorio once again for hosting us at the conference. This conference is a direct result of the conversations between Secretary Kelly and myself. When we made our visit to Mexico City in February and the idea of how to strengthen regional security and economic development was discussed with our counterparts, it was agreed that hosting this event together and assembling the various countries in the region would advance our interests as well. And so I want to thank them for that.
We also of course had Vice President Pence in attendance today. I think he clearly reaffirmed the Trump administration's commitment to work with our partners in Central America. In addition to my meetings with senior leaders from the region, the Vice-President and I also participated in constructive bilateral meetings with the Honduran President, the Guatemalan President and El Salvador's Vice President.
These conversations amongst all of us today seem to have reinforced the idea that security in Central America is not only crucial to the region's stability, but really is foundational to creating economic prosperity in the region, which will translate also into economic prosperity for Americans as well. Without effective security arrangements in place it is very difficult to create stability and conditions that are conducive to investment and business activities. Specifically, this administration's top security priority in the Western Hemisphere is stopping transnational criminal organizations from harming American communities through the drug trade and the attendant violence.
We recognize that as the world's top source of demand for illegal drugs, our own country must improve its efforts to reduce drug consumption, which is the lifeblood of these gangs. As we address our side of the problem, we call on all our neighbors in the Americas to reject intimidation, strengthen human rights, and increase the fight against criminal organizations within their own borders.
In our meeting earlier today, President Hernandez informed Vice President Pence of his decision to elevate the portfolio of human rights from vice-ministerial to full ministerial status. The Honduran government has already allocated resources for the new ministry's operation with the intention of further strengthening the institutional framework for the promotion of human rights, the human rights defenders protection systems and communication and collaboration between government and civil society.
This very important step should be commended, as it demonstrates the Honduran government's commitment to protecting and advancing our shared human rights values and protecting the work of vulnerable human rights defenders. We hope others will follow the example of Honduras. We also had many productive conversations with private sector leaders from across the region and obviously from the United States, on growing prosperity in Central America. Many US companies have substantial interests already and are expanding their operations in Central America and that interest is reciprocal for Central American leaders who want to improve the economic conditions and the lives of their people.
The economies of Central America are fueled by private sector participation that will provide more opportunities for growth. We need to create the conditions for people to enter the formal economy and ensure that people do not resort to illegal migration or illegal activities in order to make ends meet and simply to feed their famlies. More private sector investment will accelerate growth. In Central America, a surge in urban population is imminent, and we hope governments and the private sector will work together to improve needed public work infrastructure and also to see this as an emerging opportunity.
With GDP growth so closely linked to internet accessibility, we also hope that private-public partnerships will bring improved internet connectivity. A larger more competitive energy market will also drive prosperity in Central America and that was a subject of our discussions today also. All of these measures are important steps to bring prosperity for Americans as well. The more American companies we have doing business in Central America, the more jobs we create at home. Our policies in the Americas are prioritized to put the wellbeing of American workers ahead. The United States is quite proud of the progress we made today again in partnership with our co-host, Mexico, and I look forward to Secretary Kelly continuing these conversations and discussions tomorrow on security. Thank you.
Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray: Thank you Secretary Tillerson. This has been an outstanding moment of getting together and working jointly on common problems and, more importantly, on common opportunities, and I want to especially thank the leadership and the willingness to work and put ideas into reality of Secretary Tillerson. Thank you for all the hard work of you and your team at the Department of State. And also to Secretary John Kelly, to his entire team at DHS, thank you for the many hours and the effort to put this together in record time.
We talked about this as just an idea, we floated the idea, back in February, and here we are now, not that many weeks later, it's a reality. So thank you for that, and thank you for the trust, it's a real honor for Mexico to co-host, alongside the United States government, this event. I'm going to switch to Spanish, but before doing that I just want to thank Florida International University, President Rosenberg and everyone else here, thank you for hosting us and for your incredible support throughout the day.
This concludes the first chapter on prosperity and security in Central America, and today was the day that we set aside to talk about prosperity. Our common objective is to form a commitment and to join together our efforts between the public and private sectors to discuss together the challenges and opportunities for development in the region of the Northern Triangle.
On behalf of Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, I would like to express my gratitude to the United States government for co-hosting this conference, understanding that we share a responsibility in this area.
I would also like to acknowledge and recognize the presence and leadership of the Presidents of Guatemala, Mr. Morales, and of Honduras, and the Vice President of El Salvador, Mr. Ortiz, for allowing us to share with them the experiences of our region on the basis of mutual respect and a recognition of national sovereignty of our peoples.
I would also like to thank our international allies, such as Spain, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, the European Union, Nicaragua and Belize, for their presence. To each of you, I thank you for joining us, as well as the participation of international financial institutions, such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and particularly the Inter-American Development Bank and Luis Alberto Morales, the president of the bank, for their generosity and contribution and creativity in bringing about this event.
It is important to capitalize on these initiatives that will promote development in the region. During today's sessions we addressed a robust agenda, from promoting sustainable infrastructure, mobilizing investors, strengthening the interconnection of the electric and energy grid and other international energy markets to promote competitiveness, we also talked about how to improve customs and economic processes to allow for the free flow of goods between North America and Central America, as well as specific measures to be taken by governments to promote a better business climate and increase work opportunities for our citizens.
Mexico was represented at the highest level in the meetings today with Secretary Osorio, with the Finance Secretary, who were able to participate on a very interesting panel with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin of the United States, whose presence here we are also appreciative of.
In addition, the Secretary of Energy of Mexico and several representatives of the private sector participated in today's meetings on panels in an effort for constructive development and tangible results. The conference itself demonstrates Mexico’s commitment to promote sustainable development in Central America, particularly emphasizing the development of the countries of the Northern Triangle. We shared experiences, best practices, and promoted greater commitments from the private sector.
Central America is a priority area for international cooperation for Mexico's development and our objective is to contribute to institutional capacity building, economic integration and competitiveness, and inclusive development.
I would like to point out four themes on today's agenda. We must bring together the efforts of the various instruments available to us in the region, such as the United States and countries of the region, the Northern region, the prosperity agenda, as well as the Yucatan project. We can achieve synergy, greater impact and avoid duplication, something that has not yet been undertaken and the opportunity to unite all stakeholders in the region in a regional meeting like this will allow for a greater impact.
Second, a salient theme is the opportunity for energy integration as a way of reducing production costs and improving the economic level and thus bringing about greater prosperity for our peoples. There are projects that if we work together we can achieve results in a relatively short term with structured financing, with the support of multilateral institutions and private actors, there will be opportunities in natural gas and electricity for example.
Third, another theme was that we must not only focus on large-scale projects, which are really important, but also work to promote an inclusive economy that will improve the lives of our citizens, reduce poverty, improve justice and protection systems, opportunities for work, gender equality, the protection of our indigenous peoples and the development of our communities and for our peoples in an inclusive and sustainable manner.
And fourthly, we can not ignore the importance and agreement we have reached to promote greater inclusion among small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, we must create better instruments to promote the growth of entrepreneurs, and SMEs throughout the region. I would like to thank in particular the Vice-President of the United States, Mr. Mike Pence, for having joined us at the conference today.
Transforming this complex reality requires leadership and commitment and that is what the presence and support of Vice President Pence gave us and I was pleased that we could share our time here together and reinforce our shared commitment.
Thank you, Secretary Tillerson, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, we are encouraged with the results of this first day of meetings and we are eager to begin working tomorrow on the other issues of security. This conference concludes today its first day of meetings, but what we are doing here in fact it is a beginning, an effort to collaborate and work together as a team in our shared areas of responsibility, thank you very much and thank you for the trust you have shown us.