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Thursday, August 21 2014 @ 03:58 PM EDT

Remarks By Ambassador Farrar USAID Legacy Celebration

Panama News INTRODUCTORY GREETINGS, including First Lady and Foreign Minister.

It is a great pleasure to be here tonight to celebrate an important milestone for Panama and in the history of the relationship between Panama and the USA. I have yet to reach 50 days as the U.S. Ambassador in Panama, and here we are celebrating 50 years of USAID’s work in Panama – 50 years of cooperation, 50 years of accomplishments.

We are here to celebrate half a century of partnership that has survived difficult times and has thrived. USAID’s presence in Panama is coming to an end, but the United States remains and continues to be Panama’s partner in progress. We will continue to work together on programs that benefit both our countries. In particular, we will support Panama’s efforts in three areas: enhancing security in the hemisphere, strengthening democratic institutions and civil society, and expanding economic opportunity for all. (more)

First, let us look at democratic institutions and civil society. Panama and the United States have long shared a common vision in international organizations like the United Nations, the OAS, and their agencies, supporting democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity around the world. Panamanians are right to be proud of their democratic traditions, including twenty two years of free and fair elections.

The U.S. Government is committed to helping Panama’s democratic institutions further strengthen their foundations and grow. USAID has contributed significantly in this regard. Panamanians can build institutions so they can continue to rise and shine that will serve as a beacon of hope and stability across the horizon of an increasingly troubled region.

Civil society’s relationship with any government is at times a partner, at times a critic, at times both. We are honored to have important members of Panama’s civil society, past and present, here tonight.

Second, let us look at security. Americans share the concern of all Panamanians about the problem of crime, gangs and violence, as well as the corrupting influence of drug trafficking. In Panama, we sum up our cooperation with what we call the Four P’s: promoting prevention of crime, better policing, improved prosecution, and confiscating the profits of illicit activities. USAID’s programs have played a key role in these four P’s, which will continue to underpin our security strategy as we go forward.

Amidst areas of concern, there are areas for great hope. Panama has steadily reclaimed sovereignty over areas of land and sea where drug trafficking organizations once found safe haven. As a result, Panama is helping to prevent drugs from reaching not just the streets of New York, Miami, or Boston, but Panama City, David, and Colon.

In particular, the situation in Darien is dramatically different than it was a few years ago, brightening prospects for that province. This success is a result of a comprehensive policy across the Panamanian Government that engages local communities and improves services, particularly health and education. USAID has been proud to support this initiative, and the U.S. Embassy will continue supporting Panama to improving citizen services there.

Finally, let us look at promoting economic opportunity. USAID has done tremendous work over the years in helping to create economic opportunities; Panamanians today are carrying that work forward. The passage of the Trade Promotion Agreement gives us the framework for long-lasting economic partnership and transparent, efficient, rules-based markets that promote the common good in both Panama and the United States.

In recent years, the Embassy’s outreach focus has been on expanding opportunity for all sectors of society, particularly undeserved youth. These efforts will continue. We hope to continue working with MEDUCA and business organizations like APEDE to open doors of opportunity through education. We hope to forge ahead with wonderful partnerships like the USAID-MEDCOM alliance to develop and highlight programs for underserved youth.

Panama is rightfully stepping up as a regional leader on security issues, a leadership role we will continue to support, including through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).

Panama’s dynamic civil society has changed dramatically since the restoration of democracy and is a key reason for Panama’s success. Civil society is now more independent and more connected to the private sector.

The USAID mission is closing its doors, but the United States and Panama will continue being partners in the progress of both countries. As the great diplomat, philosopher and scientist Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘All who think cannot but see there is a sanction like that of religion which binds us in the serious work of the world.’ In that, the United States and Panama ‘Estamos Unidos.’

Thank you and Good night.

(US Embassy Panama City Press Release)

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