Alliance for Development in Democracy Summit

Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic Strengthen the Alliance for Development in Democracy, with support from the United States

This week a high-level delegation from Panama traveled to San José, Costa Rica to attend the Presidential Summit of the Alliance for Development in Democracy (ADD), where Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen signed a joint declaration affirming the principles of political dialogue, cooperation, trade, and investment alongside his counterparts from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. This Summit, which was also attended by officials from the United States and several multilateral institutions, is the fourth meeting between the presidents of Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic since the three countries formed the Alliance in September 2021 to safeguard democratic institutions and promote economic opportunity for the people of Central America and the Caribbean.

“Together with the private sector, [our countries] seek to generate jobs, promote a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery, fight climate change and improve the quality of life for our people”, President Cortizo said following the signing of the joint declaration. The president noted that the United States will be a key partner for the Alliance in this regard and highlighted the creation of an ADD-U.S. Business Council that will bolster trade ties between the countries to promote sustainable, inclusive, and resilient development.

The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, expressed her strong support for the Alliance for Development in Democracy in a video message delivered during the Summit. “Together, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Panama have outlined an ambitious and a necessary agenda”, Vice President Harris said. “We will continue to count on your leadership to counter corruption, to promote gender equality, to defend freedom of expression, to find solutions for irregular migration, and to bolster private sector investment. All of this is focused on one central goal: building a democratic, prosperous, and inclusive future for the people of Central America and the Caribbean.”

During the Summit, the leaders of Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic discussed issues of shared concern to their countries, including the importance of addressing the root causes of irregular migration in the region. Nearly 140,000 migrants traveled through Panama toward the United States in 2021, more than ten times the number of migrants Panama encounters in a typical year. In addition to providing migrants with humanitarian support and medical attention, the Alliance countries are committed to working with the United States and other partners to resolve the factors that drive migrants to leave their homes in the first place. The countries are particularly focused on cooperating with the international community and the government of Haiti to stabilize the political and economic situation in that country.

Commenting on the broad scope of topics discussed during the Summit, Panama’s Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes said, “From migration to the pandemic response, and from the fight against climate change to the fight for gender equality, the greatest challenges facing our region today cannot be addressed by any one country. That is why Panama is doubling down on our cooperation with the United States and international partners – through the Alliance for Development in Democracy and bilaterally – to show that democracy can deliver results.”

During their meeting, President Cortizo and his counterparts reaffirmed the Alliance’s condemnation of the aggression and the violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, which the leaders noted is a serious threat to international peace and security and a violation of the Charter of the United Nations. The members of the Alliance reiterated their call for negotiations and diplomatic dialogue to continue, grounded in respect for multilateralism and humanitarian law.

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Cortizo revealed that Panama will convene representatives from Central American and Caribbean countries in Panama City on May 3 with the aim of developing a joint proposal for regional economic revitalization, to be presented to the G20, the United Nations and at the Summit of the Americas, among other multilateral forums. The leaders of the Alliance also declared the next Presidential Summit will be held in September 2022 on the margins of the 77th United Nations General Assembly.

Also present at the Summit in San Jose were Héctor Alexander, Panama’s Minister of Economy and Finance; Ramón Martínez, Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industries; and leaders from Panama’s business sector. Representatives from the United States included Jose Fernandez, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment; Brian Nichols, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; and Cynthia Telles, U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica. Officials from regional development banks and multilateral institutions also attended the event, reflecting the important role of financial institutions in supporting the region’s economic recovery and sustainable development.