U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Costa Rica Wednesday evening to participate in the third Pathways to Prosperity summit of foreign ministers.
It´s the second time a high-ranking U.S. official from President Barack Obama´s administration has visited the country since Obama took office in January of 2009. Her visit, which comes nearly a year after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden´s trip here in March 2009, is part of a Latin American tour during which she visited Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
She´ll meet with foreign ministers from 15 countries on Thursday, including Canada, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Panama, with the aim of sharing ways to improve access to open markets and to close economic gaps.
The conference began on Wednesday with a series of workshops targeting women entrepreneurs, intended to provide inspiration, guidance and support.
“Study after study has shown that when you invest dollars in women, we have healthier families…and expanded economic growth,” said U.S. Ambassador Anne Andrew.
The forum gave enterprises with a strong presence in Costa Rica an opportunity to showcase their work. Among these were Intel, Rainforest Alliance and Earth University. In addition, a number of women entrepreneurs presented success stories.
At the end of the first day, conference participants shared a moment with women entrepreneurs in Haiti had lost their businesses in the recent earthquake through a video conference.
After listening to the the Hatian women detail their needs, which included credit, financial advice and support for single moms, Floribeth Venegas, president of the Caribbean, Central and South America Cooperation Confederation, said she can sympathize.
“Many women in this region have the same needs you do,” she said. “But your needs are much more. We´d like to express solidarity with you and tell you to keep moving forward. We are here to support you.”