Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Jean Manes Arrival Statement
June 1, 2021
** This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish version should be considered authoritative.
Good afternoon everyone. How good it is to be back in El Salvador and it is truly a privilege to be back in El Salvador. My family and I have wonderful memories of the 3 1/2 years that I served here as a United States Ambassador. I want to especially thank all Salvadorans for their messages of support and welcome that they have sent me in recent days. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much. And greetings to President Bukele and his government, which is just two years old today. Know that I will work tirelessly and with the honesty that you expect, leading our U.S. Embassy. To our U.S. citizens living in El Salvador, a special message that we are here at the Embassy to represent and support your needs.
It has been a difficult year and a half for all of us as we have struggled with the global pandemic. Loss of family members, friends, jobs, and complete upheaval of our daily lives. From my position as Civilian Deputy Commander of U.S. Southern Command, we have been providing emergency COVID19 supplies as part of the broader U.S. Government commitment to the region. In El Salvador, the U.S. donated more than $30 million in COVID assistance so far. Partnering with the local government and non-governmental organizations, we led major donations of ventilators, personal protective equipment for health workers, food, and other supplies. That is in addition to our ongoing support of $98 million to support your efforts to improve security, increase economic growth, and strengthen democratic institutions. Globally, the U.S. is the largest contributor to the international vaccine distribution effort – COVAX, because we know that no nation has overcome the pandemic until all nations have overcome the pandemic. And we’re not going to stop until we’ve all gotten over it.
Today, at the request of the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the White House, I return to El Salvador as Charge d’affaires as we develop the path ahead in our bilateral relationship. I believe in the Salvadoran people. I believe in all that is possible in El Salvador. And above all, I believe that a solid bilateral partnership between the United States and El Salvador is of interest not only to our governments, but also especially to our peoples.
We are at an important moment in our bilateral relationship. Our relationship is built on deep family connections, mutual respect, and shared values. And we have done a lot together. From improving education through FOMILENIO I and II with a total investment of $ 737 million dollars with which we renovated 349 schools, improved roads and carried out agricultural projects that were adapted to local conditions taking into account climatic changes. With these projects we support young entrepreneurs and technical schools that lead to good jobs, and with a special focus on women, elevating them in every way as important leaders in their communities.
But we have also supported your efforts to improve the security of the country. With many investments in the police, equipment and training, as well as the military, supporting security. We have also supported the judicial system, investing in technology and training. And with collaborations with private foundations such as the Howard Buffet Foundation with whom we collaborated with the renovation of Parque Cuscatlán and the new forensic laboratory in order to solve important cases such as homicides.
As we look ahead, there is a sense of urgency and an opportunity to rebuild better. To rebuild better and boost our economies in the United States, here in El Salvador and throughout the Americas. For El Salvador, there is an opportunity to empower and take advantage of the critical supply chain movement. Opportunity to attract new investment and support the growth of tremendous entrepreneurial talent that will produce good and quality jobs for Salvadorans.
At the center of that increased partnership with the United States and taking advantage of these tremendous opportunities is support for good governance reflected in the rule of law, the separation of powers, a free and independent press, a strong civil society, and a reliable judicial system, committed to fighting corruption in all its forms. All of these elements are essential in a strong and vibrant democracy. All these efforts are essential for the advancement of El Salvador and for our cooperation.
During my 3 1/2 years as an Ambassador, the United States Embassy was always a central meeting place. A place to discuss ideas, a place to discuss differences, a place to find common ground. Many have benefited from having that space open to them, including many members of the current administration before they were in their official positions that they hold today. I intend to continue this tradition of the embassy being that neutral place that welcomes all members of the political landscape and of society.
And this year we will celebrate 158 years of bilateral relations between the United States and El Salvador. June 15, in just a couple of weeks, is Friendship Day between the United States and El Salvador, a tradition approved by the legislature in 2017, because our relationship goes far beyond one government to another. It is truly people to people and I certainly felt that during those 3 1/2 years I had the opportunity to go to every corner of the country, meet with you, listen to you, and do whatever I can to support your dreams and aspirations and support your communities.
And it is also reflected in the fact that the United States continues to be El Salvador’s largest trading partner and US companies are the most important employers in the country. And even more so with more than 2.5 million Salvadorans living in the United States, that personal and economic link is strong, with remittances representing 24% of El Salvador’s gross domestic product in 2020, the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Being the highest on the continent. Even and especially during the pandemic.
Without a doubt, we have a unique relationship, like no other. And when we work together there are no limits to the possibilities.
Once again, it is an enormous privilege to be back in El Salvador. With the direct support of the White House, the State Department, and the bipartisan support of Congress, and as is my custom, you have my full commitment to do everything possible to strengthen the relationship and partnership between the United States and El Salvador.