SOURCE: The Miami Herald

The Miami Herald

The Miami Herald

September 14, 2010 19:49 ET

Latin American Leaders Address Region's Challenges and Opportunities at the 14th Annual Americas Conference®

Integration, Productivity and Innovation Are Key to the Region's Growth, According to Political and Business Leaders Attending the Event

MIAMI, FL--(Marketwire - September 14, 2010) - El Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes headlined the 14th Annual Americas Conference®, which kicked off today at the Biltmore hotel, with over 500 leading political and business personalities who addressed the region's economic opportunities and challenges, including innovation, economic growth and political perspectives.

In his principal address, making reference to U.S. policies to combat drug trafficking and organized crime, President Funes said that "the U.S., as an ally to the region, has to reverse its priorities... focusing on policies that aim at redistributing wealth and job creation." He also added that another key priority is to guarantee human rights for immigrants. "I visited President Calderon in Mexico to express our solidarity with their struggle -- referring to the Tamaulipas massacre where 72 immigrants were murdered -- but also to coordinate joint actions to combat organized crime and protect immigrant rights."

Funes was very clear about him not being Hugo Chavez's "puppet," while he directed his praise to Brazil's economic model and to President Luis Ignacio "Lula" Da Silva for a strategy that generates growth, health, education and reduces poverty. 

For his part, Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said that creating more constructive relationships with the Americas is the lead point of view of the Obama Administration and a strategic priority for the United States. "Success is what US policy for the Americas is all about. It is very important to the Administration to generate better relationships and opportunities with the countries of the region and generate a better atmosphere of social mobility," said Valenzuela. (more @ Miami Herald)

The conference kicked off with opening remarks by David Landsberg, President and Publisher of the Miami Herald Media Company who stated that, "thanks to the programming support of the World Bank we bring together an impressive panel with a vast knowledge of the region to discuss poverty reduction, development and increase education in Latin America and the Caribbean. These voices represent the diversity of contemporary wisdom on the critical issues the Americas face."

Pamela Cox, Vice President for the Latin America and Caribbean Region for the World Bank, a co-host of the Americas Conference®, spoke about the banks' commitment to the region. "This year we can deliver better economic news. After the economic collapse, the region is getting back to solid growth; the latest forecast suggest we will see a growth of 5.1% this year," while stating that "this is an excellent sign that Latin America is returning to its usual strong pattern of growth." However, Cox continued to explain that "growth rates in Latin America need to be strong and sustained to see expansion of opportunity. The truth is the region has not been keeping up with the rest of the world and the culprit various economists agree on is the rate of productivity is the last in the world."

On another note, the Minister of Economy and Public Finance of Bolivia, Luis Alberto Arce stated that "Bolivia has had sustained growth during the past 4 or 5 years due to our new economic model, which has awakened from a liberal model that pried Bolivians of natural resources, mining, and strategic and state enterprises such as national communications and electricity. But our model has regained the power that the private sector took away and is now a strong country that does not fall when other countries do."

Leaders from Latin America, including heads of state, ministers and renown businessmen will attend the Americas Conference® for this 14th edition "The Americas: A new era of transition and innovation," where prominent leaders will continue discussing issues of great importance for the region such as the social prosperity, the rising power of Brazil, migration and U.S. policy toward the region, and the initiatives for Haiti presented by Jean-Max Bellerive, Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti.

Other speakers today included Jean-Max Bellerive, Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti, Alejandro Toledo, former President of Peru, Gerardo Morales, Senate Leader, Argentina and David Landsberg, President and Publisher, Miami Herald Media Company.

About the Americas Conference®
The Americas Conference®, organized by The Miami Herald and The World Bank is the region's largest and most acclaimed annual forum of international executives and top government leaders, who gather for two days to discuss a wide spectrum of relevant business and political issues of crucial importance for Latin America and the Caribbean.

About the Miami Herald Media Company
The Miami Herald Media Company (MHMC) publishes The Miami Herald, winner of 20 Pulitzer Prizes, and El Nuevo Herald, recipient of the Ortega y Gasset international prize for Spanish-language publications. Together, our global print and online platforms reach 1.3 million newspaper readers each week and 6.5 million web visitors every month.

MHMC also publishes Miami.com, South Florida's most comprehensive interactive guide to local entertainment and attractions. MHMC produces content across all media, including video, mobile formats and radio broadcasts on WLRN/Herald News, as well as custom publications for hotels, airlines and other clients.

For more information, please visit our websites:

www.MiamiHerald.com, www.elNuevoHerald.com, www.Miami.com

The Americas Conference® is supported by:
American Airlines, Telefonica International, HSBC, Newlink Group and Infobae America.