The scene tonight in the plaza of Chinandega was truly remarkable. Thousands of people packed the town square to celebrate the positive cooperation that takes place when two countries work together to combat a common enemy—poverty. President Daniel Ortega, the directors of MCA-Nicaragua, local mayors, and government ministers joined me in awarding land titles to over 700 Nicaraguan families in the northwestern region of the country. These households now have full land titles, can tap into much-needed credit, and fully enjoy the security that comes with property ownership.
Property rights are a key element to reducing poverty, especially in regions that depend on agriculture for their economic livelihood. I am proud that MCC, working with the people of Nicaragua, local NGOs, donor organizations, and the private sector, have already helped provide legal and secure land titles to nearly a thousand people in this country, and in other countries where we are implementing compacts globally. Thousands more titles will be distributed this year alone.
Today I was able to officially launch the rehabilitation of the Villanueva-Guasaule road that connects Nicaragua with neighboring Honduras. This 17-kilometer stretch of the Pan-American Highway network has long been neglected and its poor state has impeded access to markets, basic social services, and the untapped economic potential of international commerce. By reconstructing this important paved artery, Nicaraguans and Central Americans will be able to take full advantage of free trade by getting their goods to market in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Increased exports will mean increased income for Nicaraguans, and these roads are a critical part of that effort.
This evening in the city of Chinandega, President Ortega and I toured an agricultural fair where local farmers talked to us about how improved roads, irrigation systems, and innovative methods for commercializing their products are increasing their crop yields and incomes. It is always reassuring to hearrepeatedlythank you, MCC from grateful beneficiaries. What was even more rewarding tonight, however, was to hear of their big plans for expansion. These farmers want to pull themselves out of poverty, and they are doing it with the help of MCC. They prove the old adage that there is no such thing as a small entrepreneur, but rather an entrepreneur with a small business. MCC wants to help these rural entrepreneurs take full advantage of their resources and talents to work in a smarter, more profitable, and environmentally friendly way for Nicaraguas future.
These are the results that MCC is seeing on the ground in places such as Nicaragua. We are helping people help themselves. We are facilitating a dialogue between rural populations and their local leaders. We are creating a space in which we can collaborate in a constructive way with governments despite political differences. We must look forward to the 21st century in places such as Nicaragua to fight a common enemypoverty. President Ortega ended his speech this evening in the plaza of Chinandega thanking the United States government and American people, proclaiming Viva los Estados Unidos!. Quite a milestone. These are the results of the careful investment of taxpayer funds in programs like the MCC. Stability in this region is a tangible benefit for the people of the U.S. and I am proud that MCC is leading this effort in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.
(Note: Ambassador Danilovich will preside at the inauguration of the U.S. Embassy in Managua on January 24. He travels to El Salvador to review implementation of MCCs $461 million compact. Check back for new blog entries.)