Leonel Fernández hopes that the IX Summit of the Americas will open a new chapter in the relationship between the U.S. and Latin America

March 29, 2022

At the opening of the Global Forum @ Casa de Campo, “Onward to the Upcoming Summit of the Americas: Hemispheric Challenges and Renewed Perspectives,” the former President of the Dominican Republic and current President of Funglode, shared the stage with the Dominican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roberto Álvarez and Robert Menéndez, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate of the United States of America. Marco Herrera, Funglode CEO, formally welcomed the participants.

Casa de Campo, La Romana – The former president of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernández, expressed hope that the IX Summit of the Americas, to be held in June of this year in Los Angeles, California, will open a new chapter of mutual trust and shared responsibilities between Latin America and North America.

Fernández shared his thoughts during the introductory remarks he delivered at the opening of the Forum “Onward to the Upcoming Summit of the Americas: Hemispheric Challenges and Renewed Perspectives,” where distinguished experts on hemispheric issues are debating the challenges facing the American continent.

On this issue, Fernández considered that it would be of great importance that, within the framework of the Summit, negotiation mechanisms could be established to extend over time the opening of such markets as rice, and thus avoid the bankruptcy of numerous growers and the collapse of certain regions that depend on the production of these agricultural goods.

“This would be a tremendous contribution made by the Administration of President Joe Biden, in order to preserve agricultural production in countries like the Dominican Republic,” he stated.

Similarly, the former Dominican Head of State commented that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not only endangering peace and security in the world, but encouraging other notable negative results for a real and effective recovery of the global economy.

Fernández explained that the situation is due to the economic, commercial and financial sanctions imposed on Russia after it launched its military incursion into Ukraine.

Fernández’s intervention was based on the issues that will be discussed during the IX Summit of the Americas.

The former President also expressed concern regarding the notable expansion of public spending that has occurred worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fernández indicated that the expansion of public spending took place in the midst of a decrease in fiscal income, which is the reason why an increase in the external debt had to become an option.

“Currently, this situation has reached such alarming levels that more than 25 nations in the world have financial obligations that surpass 200% of their gross domestic product, which suggests that this phenomenon will become one of the great challenges in the years to come,” he said.

He also stated that although necessary at the time, the measures adopted to expand public spending – supported by a growth of monetary issuance by central banks – have begun to have adverse consequences for a true post-pandemic economic recovery, as shown by the current worrisome situation faced by the increase in the prices of the main food staples of the family basket and of other raw materials or commodities.

“There are many expectations and hopes involved in this hemispheric gathering,” he revealed during his opening remarks at the Forum.

He also encouraged that the upcoming Summit will be able to put together a plan that will include positive measures that will benefit the regional countries, and that are aimed at dealing with the issues of debt, inflation reduction, guaranteeing growth and promoting prosperity and well-being for all.

Regarding the IX Summit of the Americas, to be held in Los Angeles, California in June of this year, the former President stressed that it will take place in the midst of great tensions, both at the global and regional levels.

He also added that he hopes this plan will include new recapitalization of the Inter-American Development Bank in order to encourage concessional loans or low interest rates.

He argued that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could also be authorized to grant special rights for grants that will be used in the application of social protection policies in favor of the most vulnerable sectors.

Robert Menendez and Roberto Alvarez

Following Fernández’s presentation, the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate of the United States of America, Senator Robert Menéndez, delivered keynote remarks where he highlighted the need for collaboration between the United States and the Central and, South American nations, and the Caribbean, regarding the terms of allocation of budgets to be applied to the education and health sectors, as well as for refugees.

Menéndez said that the regional nations in the hemisphere allocate at least 10% of its Gross Domestic Product to solve health and education needs.

“We should see ourselves not only belonging to Latin America or the Caribbean, but that we are working as a hemisphere; that we are united in defending ourselves against terrorism, corruption and the lack of independence in some of the government institutions,” said the U.S. explained the U.S. legislator.

Similarly, he said that the region must remain vigilant, given the emergence in Latin American of some authoritarian regimes.

“We have to work as a region to strengthen democracy,” proclaimed Menéndez, who participated in the Forum through videoconference.

Similarly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, Roberto Álvarez, spoke on the regional and global context in which the next hemispheric Summit will be held.

The Dominican Foreign Minister also stated that the IX Summit of the Americas highlights the particularity that at this time there is no consensus among the nations of the hemisphere. Also, that there is extreme polarization regarding the struggles faced currently by the great powers. Expanding on this issue, Álvarez predicted that the presidential elections that will soon be held in Colombia and Brazil will decide where the Latin American region will gravitate to.

The diplomat said that it is not known for sure which presidents of Latin America will participate in the IX Summit of the Americas, which he attributed to the ideological polarization that exists in the region.

“This is one of today’s great dilemmas,” Álvarez said, as he reviewed the situation in the hemisphere in terms of political ideology.

He warned that the Summit’s agenda does not include the most important issues faced currently by the region, which could reduce the event´s impact.

Foreign Minister Alvarez also believes that the major role played by the Summit will not be for the governments, but rather by the private sector.

Forum Details

The Forum is organized by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (Funglode) with the support of IDEA International, and participants include legislators, justice sector representatives, diplomats, media executives and the Central Romana Corporation, including Leo Matos, the company´s vice president.

Welcoming remarks were delivered by Marco Herrera, Funglode´s Executive Director, who explained the goals of the Forum.

“From Funglode, we energetically promote this event, assuming in its full context the conviction of its importance and impact. This initiative allows us to venture into this process of analyzing the world in which we live, and the profound and constant changes that we have had to face in recent years,” commented Herrera.

He said that the Forum’s attention will focus on Latin America’s relations with its northern neighbors, and the convergence of the entire continent as a single entity.