January 17, 2009 (9:30 a.m. EST)
No. 12

Minister of State Kent Concludes Successful Visit to Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador

The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), today concluded a visit to Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador as part of Canada’s continued engagement in the Americas.

During his visit, Minister Kent met with a broad cross-section of interlocutors, including all three presidents, senior ministers, private sector and civil society representatives, and ambassadors of leading donor countries.

In Nicaragua, Minister Kent expressed Canada’s deep concern over widespread and credible reports of fraud in the November 2008 municipal elections, which undercut Nicaragua’s commitments under the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

Canada continues to play a key donor role in the country to ensure a better future for Nicaraguans. “A positive environment for development cooperation requires sound governance and a clear commitment to democratic principles,” said Mr. Kent.

Minister Kent announced, on behalf of the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will provide $10 million for a rural economic development project in the department of Sololá, Guatemala.

“Canada is committed to helping developing countries meet the demands for food while enhancing the economic development of rural communities,” said Minister Oda.

Minister Kent also reiterated Canada’s support for the UN-mandated International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, to which Canada recently contributed $5 million. Furthermore, he announced a new instalment of $250,000 in equipment support to the Guatemalan Regional Centre for Peace Operations to enhance training of Central American peacekeepers.

Arriving in El Salvador during preparations for both municipal elections to be held January 18 and presidential elections in March, Minister Kent underscored the importance of free and transparent electoral processes. He stated, “Canada is closely following the political situation prior to the Salvadoran elections, as we consider free and fair elections a central pillar of a strong democracy.”

Discussions in all three countries also addressed the ongoing negotiations toward a Canada-Central America Four free trade agreement. Following three productive meetings in 2008, the parties will meet again this February.

“We remain committed to expanding Canada’s engagement throughout the Americas, as we work with the governments of this region to ensure a safer, more prosperous and more democratic Central America,” concluded Minister Kent.

More information on the CIDA contribution in Guatemala.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Eleanor Johnston
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)
613-947-8981

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874