Dear Nica Times:
As I reflect on the past three years in Nicaragua and my final 4th of July here as ambassador, I am convinced that Americans have much to be proud of regarding our support – both official and private – to Nicaragua.
We have witnessed the approval and implementation of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). This comprehensive agreement is a proven success.
Nicaraguan exports to the U.S. have risen by over 30 percent from 2005 levels. More trade equates to more employment and a direct reduction in poverty.
This past April, I was proud to help inaugurate one of CAFTA’s most emblematic successes in Nicaragua, the $100 million investment by the U.S. company International Textile Group, which established the Cone Denim plant in Ciudad Sandino, creating hundreds of new jobs.
We have witnessed the approval and implementation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) account program in western Nicaragua. This $175 million, five-year program will build critical transportation infrastructure, regularize property titles, and spur agricultural business development.
The MCC program is on track, having successfully delivered 1,226 land titles, disbursed over $30 million, and attracted tens of thousands of dollars of new investment to the area.
We have seen the construction of a new embassy compound, one of the most modern buildings in Managua. This $81 million, nine-building facility welcomes hundreds of Nicaraguans and Americans daily. It is a permanent symbol of the United States’ commitment to long-lasting relations with Nicaragua.
Our diverse assistance programs – most memorably the $15 million Hurricane Felix-relief package – continue to benefit the most needy in Nicaragua.
Even as I write this statement, we are planning for additional assistance for the RAAN, including agricultural production support in the form of rice seeds and the medical humanitarian visit of the U.S.S. Kearsarge to Puerto Cabezas this August.
When I reflect on our development assistance (about $40 million a year not including the MCC), coupled with all the private assistance and business investment by U.S. citizens, it’s clear that our country’s engagement has been positive and intense – and much appreciated by Nicaraguans.
On Independence Day we also inevitably reflect on U.S. democratic values, an exercise even more important as we face elections later this year in both countries.
The values of tolerance, equal opportunity, individual liberty and political pluralism are the fundamental cornerstones of democratic societies seeking to foster economic competitiveness, prosperity and thus a reduction in poverty for their citizens.
So, on my last 4th of July in Nicaragua, I ask all Americans to join me in engaging with Nicaraguans to remind them of the importance of their country’s commitment to the path towards modern democracy.
I will truly miss the people of this beautiful country and I hope to make return visits to a nation ever more prosperous and peaceful.
May God bless Nicaragua and may God bless the United States of American
Paul A. Trivelli is U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua. His three-year post here ends in July.