Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland and an interagency delegation, including representatives from the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Southern Command, visited Paraguay, Panama, and El Salvador from June 27-30. The delegation met with Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez, Paraguayan Foreign Minister Euclides Acevedo, and other cabinet members; with Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen and Acting Foreign Minister Dayra Carrizo, as well as the Panama Canal Administrator Ricaurte Vásquez; and with Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco, and other Salvadoran leaders. They also met with successful young innovators, entrepreneurs, and other civil society leaders in the three countries to discuss their visions for the future.
During her trip, Under Secretary of State Nuland:
- Relaunched the U.S.-Paraguay Strategic Partnership Dialogue, which last met in 2016, to expand bilateral coordination on issues of mutual interest, including democracy and security, trade and investment, development and good governance, and cooperation with likeminded partners like Taiwan.
- Announced the U.S. donation of one million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to Paraguay, with additional vaccine donations to Panama and El Salvador in the coming weeks. This is in addition to $2 billion in funding and additional vaccine donations to Gavi, which supported procurement and delivery of vaccines through COVAX the COVID-19 vaccine-sharing facility, for worldwide distribution.
- Announced an agreement between Banco Sudameris and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and a parallel agreement with Citibank, for $125 million of financing for Paraguayan Small and Medium Enterprises to focus on enabling women-owned and led businesses as well as those that benefit women, with 30 percent of DFC loan proceeds going to this purpose.
- Announced the start of talks to establish a network of Small Business Development Centers in Paraguay to provide counseling and services to help small businesses grow and create jobs.
- In a meeting with President Laurentino Cortizo, advanced our partnership with Panama to manage the ongoing challenges of irregular migration and forced displacement in and through the region.
- Emphasized the importance of data privacy and customer trust in maintaining regional technological infrastructure integrity with Panamanian telecommunications sector leaders, recognizing Panama’s development toward serving as a digital hub for the region.
- Reaffirmed the close relationship between the United States and Panama on key issues of climate change, and environmental preservation. Panama remains a leader in the region for championing the environment, and their aggressive climate goals make them the ideal hosts for the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) Ministerial in 2022 and the Our Ocean Conference in 2023.
- Underscored U.S. support for Panama’s efforts to combat illicit finance, particularly through the joint Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Corruption Task Force,
- In El Salvador, reinforced U.S. support for strong democratic institutions, transparency, and rule of law in meetings with Salvadoran President Bukele Foreign Minister Hill, and in roundtables with civil society and with young Salvadoran political leaders.
- Engaged with Salvadoran entrepreneurs on job creation and investment in the region to address one of the root causes of irregular migration.