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2010-09-09

Conference of the Americas brings leaders to Washington

From left, Michael Shifter, director of think tank Inter-American Dialogue, CAF president Enrique García, OAS Secretary General José Manuel Insulza and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson participate in the opening session of the XIV Annual CAF Conference on the Americas in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 8. (Brandon A. Garcia for Infosurhoy.com)

From left, Michael Shifter, director of think tank Inter-American Dialogue, CAF president Enrique García, OAS Secretary General José Manuel Insulza and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson participate in the opening session of the XIV Annual CAF Conference on the Americas in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 8. (Brandon A. Garcia for Infosurhoy.com)

By Brandon A. Garcia for Infosurhoy.com—09/09/2010

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Democracies and economies throughout the Americas are evolving, said José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) to open the XIV Annual Conference on the Americas sponsored by the Andean Development Corporation (CAF).

“Democracy is moving in the Americas,” Insulza said, citing the upcoming elections in Brazil and in other countries in the region. “The economy is moving. The countries in the south are growing very fast, but there are still too many poor people in Latin America, which is not a poor continent.”

But Insulza warned about “pressing issues” in the region, especially “the wave of violence in the region, the growth of criminality in the region and its persistence despite all the efforts [made to thwart it].”

“The region has changed very much,” he said. “There’s a much larger feeling of independence, there are new leaderships and there is economic growth. We have to find a way in which we can all continue working together for our common purposes, purposes in democracy, human rights, values that we all share.”

The two-day event focused on the economic, social and democratic development of the Americas, as well as the role Latin America plays worldwide.

Several hemispheric leaders, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Bolivian president Carlos Mesa, former Panamanian president Martín Torrijos, Secretary of the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean Alicia Bárcena, and Francisco Carrión, the ambassador of Ecuador to the United Nations, were in attendance, among others.

The Andean Development Corporation, headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela, will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year with new challenges, according to CAF President Enrique García.

“In 40 years, we have gone from five member countries to 18,” García said during an exclusive interview with Infosurhoy.com. “We started with assets of US$25 million, now we have US$18 billion and we lend close to US$10 billion [a year].”

The CAF initially was comprised of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, the countries in South America’s Andean region. But the organization has expanded to include Brazil, Chile, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Spain and Portugal.

“We are projected to become three times bigger by way of an organized growth process with emphasis on the quality of our financial products,” García said.

CAF often places bonds in several stock markets worldwide, including Japan, the United States and Europe to fund its operations, García said.

“Our products have investment-grade rating, the highest financial level of trust,” he said.

- Julio Urdaneta contributed to this report.

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