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President Bush Participates in a Conversation on the Americas

"Laura and I had a magnificent trip to Central and South America. It reminded me of the importance of having a peaceful and prosperous neighborhood. It's in our interests, in the interests of the United States that our neighborhood be healthy and educated. And so this conference is an attempt to bring together key people of my administration and faith-based groups and private sector groups from the United States, as well as our neighborhood, to discuss how we can work together to promote social justice, to help people realize a better life through good education and good health care."

- President George W. Bush, July 9, 2007

Fact Sheet: White House Conference on the Americas

Advancing The Cause Of Social Justice In The Americas

"In the coming months, this Administration will convene a White House conference on the Western Hemisphere that will bring together representatives from the private sector, and non-governmental organizations, and faith-based groups and volunteer associations. The purpose is to share experiences and discuss effective ways to deliver aid and build the institutions necessary for strong civil society."

- President George W. Bush, March 5, 2007

On July 9, 2007, President And Mrs. Bush Are Hosting A Conference On The Americas To Highlight United States Engagement And Discuss More Effective Ways To Deliver Aid And Strengthen Civil Society. With the theme of "Advancing the Cause of Social Justice in the Americas," the conference includes representatives of approximately 150 regional-based organizations and 100 United States-based groups. It focuses on sharing lessons learned on how to promote education, healthcare, and economic opportunity at the grassroots level, and public-private partnerships throughout the hemisphere.

The Administration Has Launched New Initiatives This Year To Meet Basic Healthcare Needs, Expand Economic Opportunities, And Invest In Education In The Western Hemisphere

1) Meeting Basic Healthcare Needs

The U.S. Has Provided Over $950 Million To Improve Healthcare In The Western Hemisphere Since 2001.

The President Directed The USNS Comfort – A Medical Ship – To Begin A Four-Month Deployment To Provide Medical Care To 12 Latin American And Caribbean Nations. The Comfort deployed in June and has made stops in Belize and Guatemala. It is also scheduled to stop in Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname. Its medical professionals plan to treat 85,000 patients and conduct up to 1,500 surgeries.

In June, Health And Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt Inaugurated A Healthcare Training Center In Panama. Already, 100 healthcare professionals from six countries in the region have attended the first two courses, and another 50 students will be trained in September.

Today, Mrs. Bush Announced The Launch Of The Partnership For Breast Cancer Awareness And Research Of The Americas. This initiative will unite experts from the United States, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico in the fight against breast cancer, which is the most common cause of cancer-related death for women worldwide. The partnership joins the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the U.S government. These partners will work to build capacity in the region by increasing research, training, and community outreach efforts and by helping women build the knowledge and confidence to take charge of their own health.

2) Expanding Economic Opportunity

The United States Is Assisting In Building A Market For Affordable Housing In Latin America. This year, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has already approved $305 million in financing to help underwrite mortgages and build homes in our hemisphere. Also, OPIC is currently planning to support more than $250 million in additional financing this year to help provide low and middle income residential home mortgage loans and home construction loans in ten Latin American countries. Through OPIC, for example, the U.S. provided $10 million in financing to help underwrite mortgages that will benefit low and middle income families in Nicaragua.

In June, The Commerce Department Hosted the First-Ever Americas Competitiveness Forum. Nine hundred participants from more than 30 countries discussed ways to make the Americas more competitive in the international marketplace. Follow-on meetings are scheduled in the hemisphere later this year.

The Treasury Department Has Unveiled A Plan To Help U.S. And Regional Banks Improve Their Ability To Extend Loans To Small Businesses In Latin America. The plan will open new opportunities for small businesses to grow. Increasing access to capital throughout the Americas will help entrepreneurs create new jobs and opportunity for their fellow citizens.

Last Week, The Treasury Department Announced A New Latin American And Caribbean Initiative To Catalyze Private Finance For Infrastructure. The United States will partner with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, to create a program to catalyze private investment in infrastructure in Latin America. This initial $17.5 million infrastructure project development program will include a $4.6 million U.S. contribution and a $1.9 million contribution from Brazil.

The President Calls On Congress To Take Action On The Peru Free Trade Agreement Before The August Recess And Move Forward Quickly To Approve Pending Agreements With Panama, Colombia, And South Korea. On May 10, the Administration and Congress reached agreement on a path forward for our pending free trade agreements with Peru, Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Congress must now show good faith by taking action on these agreements.

3) Investing In Education

In March, The President Announced A New $75 Million Initiative To Help More Young People Learn English And Study In The United States. The Administration has already provided an initial $1.5 million for this initiative, which will enable 120 undergraduate student leaders to study in the U.S., starting in January 2008. The program will provide the students with a deeper understanding of U.S. society and culture, while enhancing their leadership skills.

The U.S. Has Provided More Than $150 Million For Education Programs In The Western Hemisphere Since 2004.

President and Mrs. Bush to Host
White House Conference on the Americas

The President and Mrs. Bush hosted a White House Conference on the Americas on July 9, 2007. The Conference brought together voluntary organizations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and foundations to discuss and highlight the vast array of societal interaction between the United States and its neighbors to better the lives of the region's citizens.

In his March 5, 2007, speech on the Western Hemisphere, President Bush said, "Today the most important ties between North and South America are not government to government, they are people to people. And those ties are growing. These ties are growing because of our churches and faith-based institutions, which understand that the call to love our neighbors as ourselves does not stop at our borders."

The theme of the one-day conference was "Advancing the Cause of Social Justice in the Americas" and included representatives of approximately 150 regional-based organizations and 100 United States-based groups. Topics included investing in education, meeting health care needs, expanding economic opportunity, and building public-private partnerships.

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