The 33rd Summit of the Central American Integration System, or SICA, ended Friday with a joint press conference, at which the presidents issued a statement containing a package of urgent measures needed to meet the world crisis.
The principal strategy is aimed at providing incentives for public investment in countries of the area while strengthening agricultural productivity to improve and guarantee food security.
Also suggested was the reduction of dependence on countries outside the region that are immersed in the worldwide crisis, while boosting Central American trade.
At the press conference, held on an improvised Mayan altar, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said that SICA countries agreed to give “instructions to the superintendents of banks and to the central banks of each nation to review their regulations for the purpose of guaranteeing trustworthy parameters of investment.”
“The architecture of the economy needs changes, we have to achieve financial, trade and food independence within the region,” the Honduran president said.
At the summit Zelaya passed along the temporary SICA presidency, which rotates every six month, to Nicaraguan head of state Daniel Ortega.
The Declaration of San Pedro Sula, a city located 243 kilometers (151 miles) north of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, also stated the willingness of Central American countries to study the possibility of adopting a common currency in the region, such as it had soon after gaining its independence from Spain.
The document establishes the agreement to promote capitalization “in the shortest possible time” of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, or BCIE, as the organization charged with promoting regional development against the “impact of the international financial crisis.”
By the same token, it urges the preparation of a “capitalization scheme” during the next extraordinary assembly of governors, scheduled for February 2009, and support for “the incorporation of new partners from outside the region.”
After extolling the memory of Central American liberator Francisco Morazan, Ortega said at a press conference that the times indicate that “the only alternative is unity.”
“And from the unity of Central America we will proceed to the unity of Latin America,” he said. “Nicaragua is already heading in that direction with ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), promoted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Ortega said.
“They sold us a model that doesn’t work and that has us bound hand and foot, and faced with the failure of that model all that remains is unity,” the Nicaraguan president said.
“We’re in a storm that we didn’t cause although it affects us, but this meeting has served to take the necessary steps in search of resources that will aid our economic and social development,” he said.
For his part, the president of El Salvador, Elias Antonio Saca, said that “the solutions that each country proposes for getting out of the crisis are different, but they all have a common goal.”
“While we don’t understand the depth of the crisis, we have to be ready to give it the importance it requires,” he said.
Present at the summit besides Zelaya, Ortega and Saca were Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom; the deputy prime minister of Belize, Gaspar Vega; the vice president of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Alburquerque; and first vice president and foreign minister of Panama, Samuel Lewis Navarro.
SICA comprises Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, with the Dominican Republic as an associate member.