As Prepared for Delivery
Good afternoon, and welcome. Before I begin my statement, allow me to present some of the key U.S. officials who make up my team at the Embassy. Together, we are developing a very positive agenda for the duration of my tenure here in Honduras.
I am truly honored to represent the people and government of the United States to the people and government of Honduras, a country that has long been an ally and friend of the U.S. The links between our two countries run deep. You probably already know that nearly one million people of Honduran origin reside in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have visited this country, which is so rich in culture, history, and natural beauty, as well as in its hard-working and generous people. I am looking forward to meeting Hondurans from all walks of life, as I travel throughout the country. Our strong ties in commerce are important, since thousands of both Hondurans and Americans depend on these ties. It is my hope that these links will strengthen even more as Honduras continues on its path toward greater prosperity.
This morning, I presented my credentials as Ambassador to President Porfirio Lobo, who has expressed his commitment to shaping a nation whose citizens will be safer, who will have greater trust in law enforcement, who will encounter less corruption; and who will have more opportunities for education, jobs, and lives free from poverty. These are the goals that can contribute to a prosperous and democratic Honduras that respects the rule of law and human rights. They are also the goals that correspond to the priorities of the Honduran people. The U.S. will continue cooperating with the Honduran people and their government to achieve them.
Safer streets, more jobs, greater investment and a more transparent government are all within reach. The Honduran government is already focusing attention on these goals, and we support its efforts to make progress in the short term that will continue into the future.
Security is closely linked with job opportunities. The U.S. has long partnered with Honduras to encourage investment and trade, and to support the U.S. firms that represent the majority of new direct investment in the country. These companies are investing in an increasingly wide range of sectors, including financial services, manufacturing, tourism, shipping, and insurance services. In addition, the Central American Free Trade Agreement has provided unprecedented access by Honduran companies to the largest market in the world, the United States. I am committed to working with President Lobo, as well as other key players and sectors, to identify additional means to boost economic activity leading to better opportunities for both Hondurans and Americans.
It is clear that in order to truly thrive, businesses must be able to operate in an environment free of corruption. The Lobo administration is already taking steps toward more accountable government by increasing fiscal transparency and publishing a wide-ranging anti-corruption plan. We were encouraged to see that the government also pledged that Honduras will participate in the new, global Open Government Partnership, an international effort to promote transparency, fight corruption, increase civic participation, and promote the use of new technologies to make governments around the world more effective and more open.
I have long believed in the healing power of economic growth combined with social inclusion, and I hope that you will find me to be an Ambassador who makes contributions in these areas so that Honduras will realize its tremendous economic potential as already demonstrated through coffee plantations, tilapia and shrimp farms, and tourist attractions.
As we cooperate in these vital tasks, I look forward to working with you, the media. You play an enormously important role in ensuring governments serve the interests of the people, as they must in any democracy. For that, I thank you—and thank you very much for coming.