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Hemisphere's leaders at the Miami Herald's Americas Conference: more than 500 top U.S. and Latin American officials and business executives attend The Eighth Annual Miami Herald Americas Conference.

Top U.S. and Latin American officials and business executives gathered to discuss the impact of the U.S. Elections on the future of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Miami Herald Americas Conference held in Coral Gables from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, 2004.

During the highly prestigious two-day conference, presidents and former presidents, government ministers and leading CEOs also addressed concerns about the political crisis in Venezuela, Mexico's presidential elections in 2006 and trade competition with China, rising anti-Americanism in the region, U.S.-Caribbean relations and the Mercosur trading bloc.

More than 500 government and business leaders took part in Herald's Americas Conference, whose presenting sponsor was General Motors.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe discussed his administration's efforts to reform the pension system and the oil sector. "I would say our biggest preoccupations lie in oil and pensions, and we are doing everything to try and solve them," he said.

Bolivian President Carlos Mesa told the group, "'We have managed to bring back social peace." Bolivians approved, through a referendum, the development of the country's energy resources, paving the way for Bolivia to double its natural gas exports by the end of 2007.

El Salvador's former president, Francisco Flores, put the reform process into context by focusing on concerns about maintaining an open dialogue. "Democracy is at risk," said Flores.

Echoing the former Salvadoran president's concerns, Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. secretary of state, said, "Disappointed expectations have caused some to fall under the spell of demagogues."

U.S. support for the fight against poverty, corruption and drug trafficking was also a key topic at the event. Interim Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue called on the Bush Administration not to forget its neighbors.

The latest survey of Latin American opinions in 18 countries by Latinobarometro, a Chilean polling concern, painted a grim picture for U.S. policymakers. Latinobarometro has detected a significant drop in the positive image of the United States among Latin Americans following the Sept. 11 attacks. Spain is now considered a closer ally than the United States. "There is a sense of abandonment and a sense that the United States is not doing enough for [Latin Americans] ... or the region," said Marta Lagos, who heads Latinobarometro.

Roger Noriega, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, the top U.S. diplomat for the region, said that "those who believe that the Bush administration has not been paying attention to the Americas have not been paying attention to us."

Also taking part in the dialogue throughout the conference were Otto J. Reich, the former Latin America Advisor for the Bush Administration, and Arturo Valenzuela, the former Clinton White House Latin American Advisor, as well as Donna J. Hrinak, former U.S. Ambassador to Brazil. Nelson Cunningham, Senior Advisor to the Kerry campaign and managing partner at Kissinger McLarty Associates, and Emilio GonzaLez, a former director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council, as well as Marcos Daniel Jimenez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and James B. Comey, deputy attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice, provided their insights regarding what's next for U.S.-Latin American relations.

In addition to addressing U.S-Caribbean relations, Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie also thanked the generosity of South Floridians in the aftermath of two hurricanes. "It's a wonderful experience for me because sometimes you're really down at being overcome by your own problems, and to come out and see the goodwill and the feeling that is shared by people who are prepared to contribute," Christie said.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush told the group that the United States should be aware of the significant role of Latin America and the Caribbean. "It's important that we recognize that Latin America is hugely important part in our relations with the rest of the world," Bush said.

Addressing the issue of how to bring the Caribbean market together as a single bloc were Amb. Richard Leighton Bernal, managing director of the Caribbean's Regional Negotiating Machinery, Kim Baker, a co-owner of Caicos Pride, and Bhoendradatt Tewarie, a principal at the St. Augustine campus of University of the West Indies.

Jennifer McCoy, director of the Americas Program at The Carter Center, and Maria Corina Machado, director of SUMATE addressed issues surrounding Venezuela's referendum and the country's political outlook.

Manlio Fabio Beltrones, president of the Mexican Congress and a leading member of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), Felipe Calderon, a former Mexican energy secretary, and Amalia Garcia, Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) gubernatorial candidate for the northern Mexican State of Zacatecas led the debate on Mexico's electoral panorama for 2006.

General Motors Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem and Goldman Sachs Latin America Chief Economist Paulo Leme spoke about China's growing role in the global economy and its relevance for Latin America.

Business leaders also discussed the competitiveness of the Mercosur trade bloc and the region's preparedness for global challenges. Peter Hakim, president of Inter-American Dialogue, led the Mercosur outlook panel, which included James Bacchus, former chairman of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, Rubens Barbosa, former Brazilian ambassador to the United States, Richard E. Feinberg, professor of international political economy and director of the APEC Study Center at the University of California, and Donna J. Hrinak, a former United States ambassador to Brazil.

To address the issue of globalization and Latin American readiness, Angel Cabrera, president of Thunderbird, The Garvin School of International Management, directed a panel that included Gerardo Jimenez Sanchez, executive director of the National Institute of Genomic Medicine in Mexico, Grey F. Warner, the senior vice president of Latin America for Merck & Co. and Deborah-Wince Smith, the president of The Council on Competitiveness.

In addition to General Motors as the Presenting Sponsor, The Miami Herald Americas Conference had as its Official Sponsors Samsung Electronics, Stanford Financial Group and Corporate Sponsors DHL Express, Greenberg Traurig and LanguageSpeak. Merck Sharp & Dohme was the Associate Sponsor.
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Publication:Latin Trade
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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