Welcome Reception

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Laura F. Dogu
December 1, 2015

It is an honor and a pleasure to welcome you.

My husband and I arrived in Managua about two months ago; in spite of the short time, we have enjoyed it to the maximum, getting to know, little by little, Nicaragua and Nicaraguans. My children came to visit for the first time last week and they liked Nicaragua a lot. What they enjoyed most was the warmth that we’ve been shown everywhere.

The United States government is supporting a more prosperous, safe and democratic Nicaragua and I truly believe that all of these characteristics are intertwined. We know that it is not possible to achieve one of these goals without the other, and because of this we promise to strengthen all of these areas.

During these first months in Nicaragua I have met with government employees and private sector and civil society representatives to explore the interest that could exist to collaborate together in achieving these goals. During my time here, between many activities – some that I hope you have seen on Facebook and my Twitter account – I have met with people from many sectors. I met cocoa producers that we support so that they can learn how to improve their product and their competitiveness in exports and strengthen the position of Nicaragua in every part of the value chain.

I have also met students who are learning to develop businesses through a program supported by the Ministry of Education and the Peace Corps, and others who are participating in programs with AmCham that teach how to design a business plan and manage finance. It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet successful women entrepreneurs during their celebration of the International Day of Women Entrepreneurs and visit a trade show where they display and sell their products.

I also met sailors who are on the front line combating drug trafficking. They showed me how an equipment donation that, even though it seemed small, provided them the necessary tools to carry out anti-narcotic operations. We have observed that boats seized from drug traffickers can be fixed and used against those same criminals. In the short time I’ve spent here, they have carried out two successful operations. In each of those, they have seized more than 500 kilos of cocaine.

This is an example of how relationships and good communication, combined with intelligent investment can produce many successes. Likewise, I have met with groups who are promoting democracy in different ways. I have also met with journalists, members of the church, youths and political parties.

On the other hand, I have met with many government employees to talk about their programs and how we can expand our work together. We don’t agree on everything, but it is clear that there are many ties, much interest, and many opportunities to work together and independently of politics or our history; the most important part of the relationship between Nicaragua and the United States is the people to people connection.

It has inspired me to see United States citizens working in Nicaragua to help the most vulnerable or to help emerging businesses that generate jobs and economic opportunity, whether it be speaking with the Academy Award winning actress Patricia Arquette and her charity project Give Love, visiting Operation Smile which helps children with cleft palate, or cutting the ribbon in the opening of a new investment, it is easy to see that the people of Nicaragua matter to the people of the Unites States.

In a few days, I will start to travel outside of Managua and I hope to get to know Nicaragua firsthand and meet many more people. I have had a competition on the Embassy Facebook page to determine which places I should visit and I have received excellent suggestions. You will see me in many of these places in the coming months.

To conclude, I should say that we share the interest of many Nicaraguans who want a prosperous, safe, and democratic Nicaragua. The many United States citizens who already know the country, who are working here, generating jobs, investing in the future of Nicaragua, and carrying out many other incredible activities, also want the same. We are very happy to be here in Nicaragua and we hope to be able to continue strengthening and expanding our relationship.

As the holidays approach, we would like to take advantage of the opportunity to wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Thank you for being here with us tonight and I hope you enjoy the evening.