36th SICA summit concludes on AC

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Since December 14th, dignitaries from Central America and the Dominican Republic began arriving, holding several meetings in anticipation of the final summit alongside the various heads of state. Early Thursday morning, December 16th, Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and officials from other Central American countries arrived in San Pedro.

The Summit of the SICA Heads of State and Government commenced on the 16th at Coco Beach Resort, some 3.5 miles north of San Pedro. The official ceremony got underway at around 11:30am. Preceding the official opening ceremonies, the newly appointed President of SICA and Guatemala's President, Mr. Alvaro Colom read a prepared statement, expressing his government's collaboration with Mexico in facilitating dialogue between Nicaragua and Costa Rica in reference to an ongoing territorial dispute between the two. In an interesting twist of event, the leaders of these two countries failed to attend the summit.
In his opening remarks, the outgoing pro-tempore president of SICA, Hon. Dean Barrow spoke of the challenges and dedication of Heads of State to work in harmony, to push for development, and uplift the people to improve their quality of life and rid societies of all traces of poverty and inequality. The immediate threat of regional security, the rise in criminal activities, urban violence in all member countries and the threat of more frequent and stronger storms and droughts brought about by Climate Change were all major areas of concern at the Summit.

Following the conference, a press conference was held at the Conference Room at Coco Beach Resort. The floor was opened to questions from the media. To start the conference, outgoing SICA President Hon. Dean Barrow expressed his thanks to all of his colleagues for the support that was given to Belize during the six months in which it held the SICA presidency. He was especially grateful for the cordial atmosphere in which the Summit proceeded, making his job as Chairman extremely easy, he stated. Hon. Barrow further stated, "I know that in handing over [the SICA Presidency] to Guatemala, we are passing the pro temporary presidency to a safe pair of hands, President Colom has consistently demonstrated tremendous regional leadership as has been evidence today by the agreement he was able to broker together with Mexico in terms of advancing the process of dialogue between Nicaragua and Costa Rica".

In response to the question as to whether the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon Dean Barrow, had an opportunity to meet with Guatemala's President, Alvaro Colom to discuss the existing border dispute that exists between Belize and Guatemala, the Prime Minister stated, "President Colom and I did not have a chance to have any private discussion but you would be interested in knowing that during the course of the ministerial meetings Minister Rojas, the Foreign Minister of Guatemala ,made the point during the discussions about the problems with Costa Rica and Nicaragua; that the manner in which Belize and Guatemala attempt to live together as good neighbors, even as we acknowledge the existence of the dispute, could and should serve as a model for the way in which states with differences between them ought to proceed. President Colom and I did not talk particularly about the Belize-Guatemala situation, except that as is usual with President Colom, he indicated in a way that I know to be sincere, his continuing walk of feeling for Belize and Belizeans, as he has shown in the way he has operated during the course of his presidency, his continuing determination to have us operate in the fashion that was commended by his foreign minister, so I believe that there is equal determination on both sides to continue to ensure a modus divendi between our two countries, that will see us strict with each other on the basis of mutual respect, even as we try to find a solution to the problem, hopefully by way of the submission to the ICJ".

In response to inquiry about discussions into the increase in cross border crimes, human trafficking and organized crime, the Prime Minister commented, "The majority of the time during the Summit was spent on the discussion of the regional security situation and that involved looking at all aspects including drug trafficking, money laundering, cross border crime, including human trafficking. All the presidents intervened in this aspect and all agreed that there is a need for even closer collaboration among Central American states so that together, and with the assistance of the SICA secretariat we might be able craft proposals for the solution to our security problems that would be all encompassing and that could seek to concentrate as much on the need for the social interventions required to deal with this problem as on the interdiction efforts. We touched on the relationship in this equation between ourselves and the United States of America, there was consensus that a new departure is required in terms of that regional security configuration that would again see as paramount the need for the kinds of interventions that would produce greater access to education, greater opportunities for the poor and the marginalized in our society, for young people, that would help us deal with what is increasingly the greatest problem confronting all of our societies".

Notable attendees and participants of the 36th SICA Summit and press briefing included Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize; His Excellency Mr. Mauricio Funes, President of El Salvador; Mrs. Clara Quinoñez de Longo, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Dominican Republic; His Excellency Mr. Porfirio Lobo Sosa, President of Honduras; His Excellency Mr. Alvaro Colom, President of Guatemala and newly appointed President of SICA; Mr. Alfio Piva Mesen, Vice President of Costa Rica; Mr. Orlando Solorzano, Nicaragua's Minister of Finance (Economía), Distinguished Secretary Generals, Distinguished representatives, special invited guests and members of the media.

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