36th SICA Conference being held on Ambergris Caye - 12/15/10 10:01 PM
The meetings at the technical level started on Monday evening while the vice-ministers met behind closed doors inside the conference room at Coco Beach Resort on Ambergris Caye. The meetings continued on Wednesday with senior officials, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the various countries. The 36th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and the Government of SICA will see the participation of six Heads of State including the Prime Minister of Belize, the Honorable Dean Barrow.
Hon. Dean Barrow is slated to arrive on at 4:00pm.
Re: 36th SICA Conference being held on Ambergris Caye - 12/16/10 12:29 AM
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Re: 36th SICA Conference being held on Ambergris Caye - 12/17/10 04:45 AM
Re: 36th SICA Conference being held on Ambergris Caye - 12/17/10 03:10 PM
Island in Heightened Security for 36th SICA Summit
If you were wondering why there is such a heightened state of security on the island, it’s because of the opening of the 36th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and the Government of SICA (Central American Integration System) that is taking place in San Pedro tomorrow December 16, 2010. Even North Ambergris residents were surprised to see the north road fixed overnight, due to the arrival of the regional presidents.
Presidents, ministers of foreign affairs and ambassadors from the region including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Vice President of Panama and Representatives from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua are convening at Coco Beach Resort on North Ambergris Caye for the summit.
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Re: 36th SICA Conference being held on Ambergris Caye - 12/17/10 03:16 PM
A series of meetings have started both, at the technical and vice-ministerial levels, in preparation for the visit of the Heads of State of all Central American countries. The visit by the leaders is part of the Central American Integrated System (SICA) conference (scheduled to end on Thursday, December 16th) when all leaders are expected to discuss a number of issues related to the region before participating in a joint press conference on Thursday afternoon.
The meetings at the technical level started on Monday evening while the vice-ministers met behind closed doors inside the conference room at Coco Beach Resort on Ambergris Caye. The meetings continued on Wednesday with senior officials, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the various countries. The 36th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and the Government of SICA saw the participation of six Heads of State, including the Prime Minister of Belize, the Honorable Dean Barrow.
While there was no word as to what exactly was discussed in the SICA conference by the Heads of State, one of the burning issues affecting at least two Central American countries, is the Isla Caleros dispute. In October of this year, a dispute surged between Costa Rica and Nicaragua regarding the dredging of 21 miles of the San Juan River by the Nicaraguan Government, an area which included Isla Calero. The Costa Rican Government claimed that there was a flagrant violation of its sovereignty as Nicaraguan troops had entered Costa Rican territory. The dredging of the river caused environmental damage in the wetlands of Isla Calero, which forms part of the island's nature reserve, in an area that is owned by the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment. The Costa Rican government responded by sending 70 police reinforcements to the border area in mid-October while the Nicaragua Defense minister stationed around 50 soldiers on Isla Calero. Complaints went before the Organization of American States (OAS) and it is expected that the matter will also emerge in the SICA discussions on Ambergris Caye.
In an interview with Ms. Alyssa Carnegie, the Director of the Government Press Office, she explained that "this is the 36th ordinary summit of SICA, which will be held on December 16th 2010. The executive community of SICA met on the 14th to review the Budget of SICA, look at security and the implementation of presidential mandates.On the 15th, the council of foreign affairs met. The actual summit [was held] on Thursday December 16th. The summit [sees] the participation of the President of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, the Vice President of Panama and Representatives of Dominica and Nicaragua."
Up for discussion were issues pertaining to security such as organized crime, trafficking of arms and humans, juvenile delinquency, as well as environmental issues such as climate change, as well as the Isla Calero issue. Ms Carnegie further stated that, "It is an honor for Belize to coordinate the discussion on these regional issues. At the summit held being held on Thursday, Belize will hand over the presidency of SICA to Guatemala."
San Pedro Sun
Re: 36th SICA Conference being held on Ambergris Caye - 12/17/10 03:32 PM
Belize is concluding its pro-tempore presidency of SICA, the regional integration movement in Central America. President Alvaro Colom who takes over the presidency was the first to arrive this morning at the San Pedro municipal airstrip. Colom has close ties to Belize, his wife Sandra studied at primary and secondary schools here, her mother and other family members are Belizean. Colom announced on arrival that Nicaragua and Costa Rica had agreed to dialogue on the ongoing territorial dispute, which drove Nicaraguan troops close to the border with Costa Rica. Notably, the heads of these two countries did not come to the summit. Nicaragua did not even send a representative and the Panamanian President also did not make it. The Presidents of Honduras and Salvador, however, did arrive. The event was held at Cocoa beach, a resort in North Ambergris where security was crawling all over. At the opening of the summit, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that SICA has been the engine in mechanisms that drive development of the region.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“It will be timely for us to reassert at this meeting our ultimate commitment to the integration movement, to enter into the record our revitalized dedication to the development in harmony of our countries and to restate our unswerving resolve to make sure that individually and collectively, we uplift our peoples to improve their quality of life and rid our societies of all traces of poverty and inequality. Of course, our efforts, decisions and actions over the past few years have already produced significant advances. Our economies are larger, intraregional trade has increased and our infrastructure has expanded. No one can deny that these accomplishments have been facilitated by the institutional arrangements that constitute the Central American Integration System.
Of the many challenges that confront us, none is perhaps as immediate as regional security. Criminal activity and urban violence are on the rise in all our countries. Also, we now are existentially threatened by more frequent and stronger storms and droughts due to the effects of climate change. Even as we gather here, we are without representation at the highest levels from Panama because of the floods that have overtaken that country. Belize is convinced that there is much more that we can accomplish by collaborating in this area of climate change. But security, trade and investment are also themes that we believe will benefit from a common agenda between our two sub regions.”
Re: 36th SICA Conference being held on Ambergris Caye - 12/17/10 07:12 PM
Regional security and citizen safety was “the most provocative of the agenda items” at a summit of Central American leaders hosted in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, on Thursday, December 16, 2010, according to Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the outgoing chairman of the Central American Integration System (SICA) and host of the summit.
Barrow handed over the presidency to Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, who had agreed, along with Mexican officials, to host conciliatory talks aimed are diffusing flared tensions of neighboring Central American countries, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Other officials attending the summit, Barrow told Amandala, offered congratulatory remarks on this development.
He pointed out that Costa Rica had filed a complaint against Nicaragua with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “but it is good that both have shown some flexibility” in allowing dialogue to proceed.
The territorial dispute, he clarified, is over an island that both claim and Nicaragua had hoisted a flag and posted some troops there.
Speaking on the issue of regional security, Barrow told our newspaper that the crime situation is much worse in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and he said that he understands that Salvador is globally ranked the highest in per capita murders or murders per 100,000.
The countries of the region also talked about getting assistance primarily from the United States, and also from other international partners, to help in the fight against crime, and more particularly to fund social intervention programs, such as those which are being explored under RESTORE Belize, the Prime Minister indicated.
The commissioners of security on SICA are expected to come together to formulate a plan to present to the US and other prospective donors.
Barrow said that he did refer to the economic situation in the region in his opening statement at the Summit, to make the point that all economies have grown; however, that issue did not take center stage.
The participants in the SICA summit included high-ranking officials from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic.
Apart from regional security, other agenda items were climate change and juvenile delinquency.
Re: 36th SICA Conference being held on Ambergris Caye - 12/24/10 03:24 PM
The Summit of the SICA Heads of State and Government commenced on the 16th at Coco Beach Resort, some 3.5 miles north of San Pedro. The official ceremony got underway at around 11:30am. Preceding the official opening ceremonies, the newly appointed President of SICA and Guatemala's President, Mr. Alvaro Colom read a prepared statement, expressing his government's collaboration with Mexico in facilitating dialogue between Nicaragua and Costa Rica in reference to an ongoing territorial dispute between the two. In an interesting twist of event, the leaders of these two countries failed to attend the summit.
In his opening remarks, the outgoing pro-tempore president of SICA, Hon. Dean Barrow spoke of the challenges and dedication of Heads of State to work in harmony, to push for development, and uplift the people to improve their quality of life and rid societies of all traces of poverty and inequality. The immediate threat of regional security, the rise in criminal activities, urban violence in all member countries and the threat of more frequent and stronger storms and droughts brought about by Climate Change were all major areas of concern at the Summit.
Following the conference, a press conference was held at the Conference Room at Coco Beach Resort. The floor was opened to questions from the media. To start the conference, outgoing SICA President Hon. Dean Barrow expressed his thanks to all of his colleagues for the support that was given to Belize during the six months in which it held the SICA presidency. He was especially grateful for the cordial atmosphere in which the Summit proceeded, making his job as Chairman extremely easy, he stated. Hon. Barrow further stated, "I know that in handing over [the SICA Presidency] to Guatemala, we are passing the pro temporary presidency to a safe pair of hands, President Colom has consistently demonstrated tremendous regional leadership as has been evidence today by the agreement he was able to broker together with Mexico in terms of advancing the process of dialogue between Nicaragua and Costa Rica".
In response to the question as to whether the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon Dean Barrow, had an opportunity to meet with Guatemala's President, Alvaro Colom to discuss the existing border dispute that exists between Belize and Guatemala, the Prime Minister stated, "President Colom and I did not have a chance to have any private discussion but you would be interested in knowing that during the course of the ministerial meetings Minister Rojas, the Foreign Minister of Guatemala ,made the point during the discussions about the problems with Costa Rica and Nicaragua; that the manner in which Belize and Guatemala attempt to live together as good neighbors, even as we acknowledge the existence of the dispute, could and should serve as a model for the way in which states with differences between them ought to proceed. President Colom and I did not talk particularly about the Belize-Guatemala situation, except that as is usual with President Colom, he indicated in a way that I know to be sincere, his continuing walk of feeling for Belize and Belizeans, as he has shown in the way he has operated during the course of his presidency, his continuing determination to have us operate in the fashion that was commended by his foreign minister, so I believe that there is equal determination on both sides to continue to ensure a modus divendi between our two countries, that will see us strict with each other on the basis of mutual respect, even as we try to find a solution to the problem, hopefully by way of the submission to the ICJ".
In response to inquiry about discussions into the increase in cross border crimes, human trafficking and organized crime, the Prime Minister commented, "The majority of the time during the Summit was spent on the discussion of the regional security situation and that involved looking at all aspects including drug trafficking, money laundering, cross border crime, including human trafficking. All the presidents intervened in this aspect and all agreed that there is a need for even closer collaboration among Central American states so that together, and with the assistance of the SICA secretariat we might be able craft proposals for the solution to our security problems that would be all encompassing and that could seek to concentrate as much on the need for the social interventions required to deal with this problem as on the interdiction efforts. We touched on the relationship in this equation between ourselves and the United States of America, there was consensus that a new departure is required in terms of that regional security configuration that would again see as paramount the need for the kinds of interventions that would produce greater access to education, greater opportunities for the poor and the marginalized in our society, for young people, that would help us deal with what is increasingly the greatest problem confronting all of our societies".
Notable attendees and participants of the 36th SICA Summit and press briefing included Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize; His Excellency Mr. Mauricio Funes, President of El Salvador; Mrs. Clara Quinoñez de Longo, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Dominican Republic; His Excellency Mr. Porfirio Lobo Sosa, President of Honduras; His Excellency Mr. Alvaro Colom, President of Guatemala and newly appointed President of SICA; Mr. Alfio Piva Mesen, Vice President of Costa Rica; Mr. Orlando Solorzano, Nicaragua's Minister of Finance (Economía), Distinguished Secretary Generals, Distinguished representatives, special invited guests and members of the media.
San Pedro Sun