Buenos dias a todos y todas!
Foreign Minister Reina, Minister Cardona, and Presidential Secretary Zelaya, muchas gracias for the invitation, your warm welcome, and for hosting these important dialogues.
I value our strong relationship and look forward to continuing this throughout my time here in Honduras.
The U.S. government delegation in attendance at today’s strategic dialogue and human rights dialogue clearly demonstrates how deeply the United States values our bilateral relationship with Honduras.
Thank you, Under Secretary Zeya, for leading the U.S. delegation to the dialogues here in Tegucigalpa.
As a result of the deep ties between our two countries, anything that affects one invariably affects the other.
This is the reason why it is in both of our governments’ interest to ensure this relationship is strong and these continuing dialogues are productive.
We seek not just handshakes and friendly promises, but real deliverables.
We seek a relationship based on shared interests and a deep partnership that helps both our countries, not just a relationship based on the latest trade-off or transaction.
In the months since the first strategic dialogue in Washington, DC last April we have heard from you.
We have worked together in your priority areas of health, education, anti-corruption, and security.
Since the beginning of the Castro administration in January 2022, the U.S. government has committed over half-a-billion dollars in new programs and assistance addressing all the issues on our shared agenda.
Together we have addressed the shared challenge of increasing numbers of migrants passing through Honduras, and the many that now stay in Honduras.
And you have heard of our focus on migration, as we worked together on the root causes of irregular migration.
The U.S. government’s strategy and related programs targets the deep systematic problems that cause people to migrate.
Although bilateral trade is now at least 12 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels, we know that we need more economic growth so more people can have dignified and well-paying jobs.
The global economic headwinds make it more important than ever that we work together to maintain the jobs that are already here and to generate new job opportunities.
Helping get people back to work and back in school is part of what propelled the United States to donate over 5.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Honduras beginning in June 2021.
Yet inclusive economic growth can also only take place when the business environment attracts investment.
Which, in turn, will only happen when corruption and impunity are kept in sharp check.
That is why the United States will continue supporting Honduras in rooting out corruption and combatting impunity including by supporting an independent and empowered CICIH mechanism.
If Honduras can create a stable and predictable business environment, more foreign investment will become a reality.
But can Honduras, or any country, really have inclusive economic growth without citizen security? The answer, understandably, is no.
Which is why we have been supporting police, justice sector, and penitentiary reform efforts.
It is important to recognize that we must also continue working together to advance and defend human and labor rights and curtail gender-based violence.
This is why our concurrent human rights dialogue is so important today.
Violations of labor rights and gender-based violence are serious crimes that often go unreported.
Not only is stopping the human suffering reason enough to focus on these areas, studies have shown that these are also large drivers of migration and internal displacement.
Our work in all of these areas is a concrete demonstration of the U.S. commitment to promoting Honduran democracy, creating employment, improving education, protecting human rights, and making Honduras a safer place.
This will give Hondurans a country where they can make a future for themselves and their families.
I have said enough, but I would be remiss in not thanking everyone from both governments who have dedicated time, energy, and their best efforts to these dialogues today.
There is so much we can achieve together to benefit both our peoples estadounidenses and catrachos alike.
I look forward to our productive dialogues today.
I will now turn the microphone over to Under Secretary Zeya.