The world is complicated with many challenges such as the closure of civic spaces, threats to freedom of expression and loss of trust in democracy and democratic institutions.
We see leaders selling the idea that to solve problems they must have more power instead of strengthening institutions and eliminating corruption.
We see governments attacking the media and civil society when they criticize their policies and actions.
Central America is no exception.
Those of us who are here have a special affection for Central America.
I previously worked in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Mexico, and it must be said that Latin America, and in particular Central America, has a special place in my heart.
And I know that for you it also has a special place, and that is why you are here.
Honduras, as well as its neighboring countries, has gone through many challenges.
But the hope of the people does not give up!
That resilience drives us to support important issues like equity, justice, and the rule of law that set the tone for the work we do.
It is gratifying to have the participation today of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere of the State Department, Emily Mendrala.
She will share the initiatives of the United States government to strengthen the rule of law in the region.
It is also a pleasure to once again welcome Michael Camilleri, Senior Advisor to the USAID Administrator.
On this occasion, Michael will speak about the importance of freedom of the press and expression, and the extraordinary work of USAID in Central America.
Welcome to both!
As you will realize when you listen to Emily and Michael, our approach in Central America is comprehensive.
Through our strategy to address the root causes of irregular migration, we create opportunities so that Central Americans do not endanger their lives on a journey to the United States.
We recognize that there are enormous challenges, but there is also a vast field for opportunities.
We believe in the value of cooperation and teamwork.
When donors and civil society work together with governments, sustainable and equitable solutions are achieved.
These are two vital components of any democracy.
An effective democracy must walk hand in hand with development and human rights.
Central Americans have the right to live in peace and without fear.
We are proud to work with local actors to promote citizen participation, access to justice, and violence prevention.
In a timely manner we work to prevent gender-based violence, respect for freedom of expression and social inclusion.
Every day I find inspiration in the work of community leaders, such as Melania Reyes, Director of the Women’s Movement of Colonia López Arellano, in San Pedro Sula.
She is a courageous advocate for victims and survivors of gender-based violence.
In every country there is a heroine like her, saving lives.
We must ensure that these community heroes continue to be the checks and balances of democratic societies.
Their voices need to be heard.
Before closing, I invite you to visit our USAID information center, located outside.
There you will be able to learn how we are transforming lives and generating hope.
Also, I hope you take advantage of the sessions and exchanges of these days.
Thank you very much.