It is a pleasure to present my credentials to President Ortega today, and to be received by the president and the first lady.
I am honored to be President Obama’s representative to Nicaragua, a beautiful country full warm people. Today, I am pleased to be able to talk about the desire of the United States for a prosperous, secure, and democratic future for Nicaragua and all of Central America.
During my time here, I look forward to cooperating with the Government and the people of Nicaragua on areas of mutual national interest, while continuing respectful dialogue and engagement in areas where we disagree. This is the role of diplomacy and is a normal part of a mature relationship between countries looking toward the future.
Since my arrival in Nicaragua, I have had the pleasure to get to know Nicaraguans from many different backgrounds. From meeting stall owners in Huembes market to artisans in Masaya, to business owners and young leaders from across the country. The people I have met have welcomed me and my husband warmly.
As I continue my travels around Nicaragua, I look forward to meeting and working together with Nicaraguans from all departments and seeing the beautiful lakes, volcanoes, and historic cities.
Nicaraguans have given me many excellent suggestions of places to visit on the Embassy Facebook page and I plan to start my visits soon because there is so much to see.
One thing I always hear is people’s sense of connection with the United States. It is easy to see why. There are strong ties between our countries with nearly 400,000 Nicaraguans living in the United States, among them sports stars including a young Nicaraguan on the world series winning Kansas City Royals, and an impressive Nicaraguan-American family of Olympic Tae Kwon Do athletes who are visiting Nicaragua to share their expertise and inspiration with youth. There are also artists, professionals from all areas, and successful entrepreneurs.
At the same time, many U.S. citizens visit, live, and work in Nicaragua. Last year nearly a quarter of a million U.S. citizens visited or lived in Nicaragua. Many of the U.S. citizens I have met here so far are working side-by-side with Nicaraguan partners to develop health, education, and economic opportunities.
Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet doctors and volunteers from Operation Smile who provide operations to children with cleft palates free of charge. I also had the chance to meet some of the children who have benefitted from the program. There is nothing better than to see a child smile.
As U.S. Ambassador, it makes me proud that U.S. citizens care so deeply about Nicaragua and Nicaraguans, and that they give their time, expertise, and funds to help improve their lives.
The United States and Nicaragua share the same objectives of a prosperous Nicaragua. I am also proud of the Nicaraguan agricultural producers we work with who have taken advantage of our programs to improve productivity and expand markets for their products.
I am also pleased to acknowledge the U.S. companies that have invested in Nicaragua. PriceSmart, WalMart, and Cargill are all expanding their operations in the here, creating more opportunities for Nicaraguans.
AmCham estimates that nearly 300,000 Nicaraguans have jobs as a result of the U.S. investments in Nicaragua. That is more than 10 percent of Nicaragua’s labor force!
I am truly proud that these U.S. companies are leaders in the areas of corporate governance, business ethics, environmental protection, job security, and social responsibility.
Today, I pledge that we will work closely with the government and people of Nicaragua to ensure joint progress in such areas as economic development, citizen security, and democracy.
We will continue to cooperate with the Government of Nicaragua on counternarcotics and to collaborate with local organizations to improve citizen security. To achieve this goal, we work with vulnerable populations such as at-risk youth, and provide vocational and drug use prevention training.
The United States is pleased to be a partner to Nicaragua, and I have no doubt that my time in Nicaragua will be an interesting and gratifying experience.