Press Release

UNESCO Director General Candidate Ivonne A-Baki Joins MCC for a Conversation on Poverty Reduction Programs in Latin America

For Immediate Release

August 13, 2009

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Council of the Americas (COA) today jointly hosted a public forum to discuss economic development and long-term poverty reduction in Latin America, featuring keynote speaker Ivonne A-Baki, President of the Andean Parliament and candidate for Director General of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Acting MCC Chief Executive Officer Darius Mans remarked: "Today’s conversation underscored that MCC and organizations like Council of the Americas know that development assistance—delivered with accountability—offers an effective way to combat the challenges of poverty in the Americas.  MCC is committed to building a framework based on cooperation and country-ownership to reduce poverty through economic growth in the Americas.”

"Although poverty rates in the region have dropped in recent years, much more must be done, particularly in light of the current economic downturn and the risk that levels could go up,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president and head of the Washington office of the Council of the Americas.  "Council of the Americas strongly supports a multi-pronged approach to poverty reduction in the region through economic and investment liberalization and the compacts and threshold programs implemented by the Millennium Challenge Corporation.”

As the keynote speaker, Ambassador A-Baki emphasized Latin America’s unique needs and laid out ideas for innovations that can offer unique solutions for the future of the region.  Ambassador A-Baki was joined by an expert panel on Latin American affairs including John Sanbrailo, Pan American Development Foundation; Eric Farnsworth, Council of the Americas; and Dr. Kevin Healy, George Washington University and Inter-American Foundation.  The panel’s conversation focused on the importance of cooperation and consultation among government leaders, civil society, and the people in need of innovative solutions. 

MCC is working to build a partnership for success in the Americas.  Currently, MCC is implementing three compact programs with El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, as well as three threshold programs with Guyana, Paraguay, and Peru.  Last December, the MCC Board of Directors selected Colombia as compact-eligible.  MCC’s projects in the Western Hemisphere include rehabilitation and construction of major highways providing access to markets and services, providing greater access to safe water and sanitation, training farmers to increase productivity of crops and hone business skills to operate small and medium farms, strengthening property rights, streamlining business registration, increasing children’s immunization rates, and strengthening anti-corruption activities.

Council of Americas, a leading organization for hemisphere-wise debate, manages programs that engage opinion leaders from the public and private sectors to exchange ideas and develop solutions to the challenges facing the Americas today.  COA policy programs promote social and economic development, the rule of law, democracy, and free trade in the western hemisphere. 

# # #

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States government agency designed to work with developing countries, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people that promote economic growth and help eliminate extreme poverty. For more information about MCC, visit