1982 was an incredible year.
Singer Michael Jackson released his album “Thriller.” That record made Michael a superstar and has sold 70 million copies worldwide.
In the same year, AT&T’s monopoly breakup was ordered.
The famous movie “E.T.” debuted in theaters.
And in 1982 AmCham started with 19 affiliated companies.
Today, 40 years later, like Thriller, whose popularity grew over time, AmCham has 234 affiliated companies.
Through the years, we remember important events in the bilateral trade relationship.
Mainly the free trade agreement CAFTA-DR.
As a result of CAFTA-DR, today the United States is Honduras’s main trade and economic partner.
In 2005, bilateral trade was $7 billion and U.S. direct investment in Honduras was $821 million.
In 2021, bilateral trade was $11.7 billion.
And the direct investment of the United States was $1.3 billion.
I know we can increase bilateral trade and investment even more over the next decade.
Recently, we have been through difficult times together with Honduras.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.
And natural disasters such as hurricanes Eta and Iota in November of the same year.
Through these setbacks we have always seen the private sector respond as a good corporate citizen and help Honduran society.
But we are still stronger together!
Therefore, it has been our honor that together, with you, we have helped Honduras to overcome these challenges.
Today I want to talk about a slightly different opportunity.
It is something in the long term that affects the private sector worldwide in one way or another: corporate social responsibility.
American companies have always been leaders in corporate social responsibility.
When society faces big problems, it is important that the private sector leads the solution.
In their book on how to build strong and lasting companies, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras used the term “B-H-A-G” or BHAG.
Perhaps some of you have heard of BHAG before.
It is to describe a big, hairy, and audacious goal.
This is a challenge that is so bold and innovative that it may seem like it will never succeed.
A level goal “put a human on the moon”.
Let us use Bill Gates as an example.
His goal for Microsoft 30 years ago was to have a computer on every desk and in every home. Now we all have one in our hand every day in the form of a phone.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is fighting poverty, disease, and inequality around the world.
He didn’t stop there.
In 2010, Bill Gates created the Giving Pledge.
It is to encourage the rich to set a new standard of generosity to improve the world for all its inhabitants.
So, I am here today, calling on AmCham members to work together, to face some challenge in Honduras and overcome it.
We can clearly show that the private sector is ready to invest more to solve challenges that affect everyone in Honduras.
They first said it was impossible to fly, but the Wright brothers did it.
Then they told us that it was impossible to send human beings on the moon.
But we did that too, and with a computer that was 1,000 times less powerful than the phones in their hands!
Some may think that it is impossible to repair the 12,000 schools in disrepair in Honduras. We can do it!
Surely it’s easier to repair schools than to send people to the moon, right?
There are 20,608 public schools in the Honduran educational system.
How many of these schools are in good condition?
Do you have school supplies?
Do they have internet access?
We understand that approximately 12,000 schools are in disrepair.
USAID has three activities to improve education in Honduras that are helping 2,500 schools.
And Since 2019, the United States Southern Command has supported 84 projects in educational centers.
Many foundations and international donors are also supporting schools in Honduras.
This is a good effort.
But it is not enough.
We need a BHAG.
In other words, a Big and Bold goal for education in Honduras.
How could we have a program to repair all 12,000 schools that require repairs in Honduras?
What could be the impact if international donor agencies, friendly governments, the private sector, and the Honduran government, and the US government worked together?
This is the question I pose to you today.
It is a call to action for you from the private sector in Honduras.
Let us work together for the benefit of Honduras. At the same time, they can ensure the private sector will have the human capital for the future of their business.
The Honduran people need to see the private sector investing more directly in people, in addition to investments in businesses.
We can do it together.
I also want to take this moment to acknowledge the presence of American companies.
These companies have traveled to Honduras as part of the United States Department of Commerce’s Trade Mission to Central America.
Welcome to Honduras!
Please raise your hands so we can recognize you.
Finally, thank you for the opportunity to share these ideas with you tonight.
Once again, I congratulate AmCham on its fortieth anniversary.
And I look forward to continuing close collaboration between the US Embassy and AmCham.
To conclude, I am going to leave a time capsule for the future US ambassador who will be here to celebrate AmCham’s 80th anniversary.
The most popular song so far in 2022 is “About Damn Time” by Lizzo.
And the most popular movie is “Top Gun: Maverick.”