Focusing on the Future with Nicaragua

I want to take advantage of my current trip to Central America to launch the MCCs latest initiative to better communicate with our stakeholders in the U.S. and abroad the CEO Blog. This is intended as a direct channel of communication to offer my first-hand perspective of our programs and the results that our assistance to partner countries is producing on the ground for the benefit of the worlds poor.

Todays itinerary in Nicaragua has achieved significant milestones. I was pleased to meet with the MCA-Nicaragua government board members and discuss how to best support the $175 million compact currently in its second year of implementation. We talked frankly about ways to maximize the resources that are part of the compact, even in a world where the dollars rate has dropped sharply and where the rising costs of oil are making large-scale infrastructure projects more expensive than ever. Our conversation confirmed what I already knew the MCA-Nicaragua board and foundation staff are professionals who are dedicated to this process and who are committed to implementing the best possible project that will benefit Nicaraguans in the northwestern region and the country as a whole.


My meeting with President Daniel Ortega was cordial and productive. His comments to the press following the meeting underscored his appreciation for the impact the MCC is having on the people of this country and their long-term prospects for real economic growth. I was pleased to hear him state to the national press that, even though he had first expressed doubts about the program, he was now more engaged with the program and aware of the time and complexities involved in the construction of durable, high-quality roads and other infrastructure improvements. I pressed the president to continue to advance the reform agenda that will ensure Nicaraguas continued eligibility for MCC assistance. He and the ministers who were in attendance demonstrated an active engagement with the MCC program. This sort of country ownership of the implementation process is needed at all levels of government and civil society in all of our partner countries, and I am happy to report that there is strong evidence of it in Nicaragua.


I impressed upon President Ortega that, despite our occasional political differences, the Millennium Challenge-Nicaragua program represented a way our two countries are cooperating in a constructive and beneficial way. The compact with Nicaragua offers a vehicle by which the U.S. government, through the generosity of the American taxpayer, can engage constructively with Nicaragua on an issue that matters to all of us: the reduction of poverty through economic growth in an environment of political stability.


Ambassador Trivelli graciously opened his home to our delegation from Washington this evening so that we could meet with government, business, civil society, and political leaders (representing all parts of Nicaraguas political spectrum). These events always offer a casual atmosphere where we can have a discussion about the compact, the local political situation, and the progress of our poverty reduction programs. One thing was clear from my conversations with Ambassador Trivellis guests: There is a deep commitment to the success of the MCC-Nicaragua program within all parts of society. As I stated to one journalist this evening, I believe firmly that poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. Together we are facing, and countering, that threat.


Tomorrow I will help distribute land titles and inaugurate the rehabilitation of the Villanueva-Guasale road in the north of the country. Read about the events here tomorrow.