Minister Tewaney Highlights Panama-U.S. Cooperation on Migration and Democracy in First Visit to Washington

From November 30 through December 2, Panama’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Janaina Tewaney Mencomo – together with Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industries, Federico Alfaro Boyd, and Panama’s Ambassador to the United States, Ramón Martínez – traveled to Washington D.C. for discussions with senior U.S. government officials and civil society leaders about areas of mutual importance, including the promotion of democratic governance in Latin America, attracting investment to the region, and progressing a hemisphere-wide approach to the migration crisis. The visit laid the foundations for Minister Tewaney’s diplomatic platform, focused on Panama’s role as a strong advocate for democracy and security and as a vital economic and trade engine in the region.  

As rising authoritarianism continues to sound alarms around the world, Minister Tewaney emphasized Panama’s work as a founding member of the Alliance for Development in Democracy (ADD) to shore up democratic institutions in Latin America and rebuild citizens’ trust in democratic governments. During meetings with Uzra Zeya, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, and Brian Nichols, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Minister Tewaney explored opportunities for future cooperation with the U.S. on these essential issues. In addition, Minister Tewaney met with leading advocates for democratic governance at the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, and the Americas Society/Council of the Americas to discuss how to best protect democracies and human rights in the hemisphere.

“Defending democratic values and creating economic opportunities for our people are two of the defining challenges of our time,” said Minister Tewaney. “By showing that democracy and economic growth go hand in hand, the Alliance for Development in Democracy makes our region more secure. We welcome the United States’ support for our efforts to build a Latin America which is peaceful, prosperous, and democratic.” 

Minister Tewaney also made Latin America’s migration crisis a core priority of her visit, grounded in an understanding that the region’s security and economic prospects are in many ways intertwined with finding a durable solution to this issue. During meetings with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as well as with experts at the Migration Policy Institute, she reiterated Panama’s calls for a hemisphere-wide approach to the phenomenon.  

“Countries of origin, transit, and destination all share responsibility for the migration crisis, and we should all be a part of the solution,” said Minister Tewaney. “Short-term fixes are not enough. We need meaningful commitments across the Americas to provide humanitarian care to migrants and to address the root causes of migration, building on the foundation of the Los Angeles Declaration.” The foreign minister’s visit to Washington coincided with Panama assuming the presidency pro tempore of the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), through which Panama will reinforce the concept of shared responsibility to address migration and uphold human rights.  

Finishing her visit, the Foreign Minister emphasized Panama’s strong trade relationship with the U.S. and its pivotal role in global supply chains during meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and senior officials at the Department of the Treasury, the U.S. National Security Council, the World Bank, and the Chamber of Commerce. As home to the Panama Canal and a uniquely appealing location for investment in Latin America, Minister Tewaney outlined how Panama and the United States can cooperate to strengthen supply chains, nearshore critical infrastructure, and catalyze economic growth across Latin America.  

Since she was appointed foreign minister earlier this year, Minister Tewaney has made clear that the U.S. remains among Panama’s closest geopolitical allies and economic partners. This trip to Washington, D.C. reaffirms the bonds between the two countries and marks only the beginning of efforts under her tenure to generate a deeper, action-oriented relationship.