Remarks by Mari Carmen Aponte, Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs

**These remarks were prepared and delivered in Spanish; this is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish version should be considered authoritative.

In commemorating this important anniversary, we have the opportunity to celebrate the power of dialogue, the power of commitment, and the power of people who — with very opposing points of view — unite for the good of the country. The commitment to dialogue and working together for the sake of all Salvadorans is precisely what is needed to face the economic and security challenges facing El Salvador today. Working together we can make 2017 a very special year, a year in which we embrace the spirit of the Peace Accords to have greater peace and security for the Salvadoran people.

I know you are going to ask me, but yesterday there was a very hopeful message, a new effort to be able to restart this dialogue that is very important. Looking to the future, the United States values ​​the relationship we have built with El Salvador in the 25 years since the Peace Accords. We hope to be able to continue this long-term partnership by strengthening our economies, building more transparent political and economic systems that work for the benefit of all people, and helping El Salvador reduce violence so that Salvadorans can feel safe, protected and effective in their country.

Salvadorans have a history in which people have previously joined to benefit the country. We see these examples; we saw them 25 years ago and we are seeing them today. Members of the majority parties – the FMLN and ARENA – are working together in 26 municipalities of Plan El Salvador Seguro to increase security and provide economic opportunities. On November 10, ARENA and El Frente reached an initial agreement that included the approval of the issuance of $550 million in bonds and a new fiscal responsibility law to address sustainability issues, including greater transparency in the use of public funds. However, the crisis is not over.

El Salvador is facing a critical fiscal situation and the bipartite dialogue on how to improve the management of public finances and increase economic growth must continue.

In 2016 we saw that all sectors of society increasingly rejected the lack of transparency and misuse of public funds; we saw the Constitutional Chamber, Probity Section and the Attorney General’s Office all working together. When the Peace Accords were signed 25 years ago, no one would have imagined that El Salvador would be currently facing challenges in the area of ​​security and high homicide rates we are seeing, although last year we did see an improvement. Work to continue reducing violence. It is important that this year in 2017, the people and the Government continue to work to improve the economy, reduce the traffic, increase security and stop the corruption that is draining the country’s resources.

There is a deep conviction in all branches of the United States Government that we must work together to address the root causes of irregular migration, which are insecurity and lack of economic opportunity, particularly for young people. The perception that institutions are too weak to successfully fight against corruption and ensure justice is also damaging. We are working in the United States to support Salvadorans to take advantage of opportunities to improve the country, including holding elected officials accountable for strong and transparent fiscal policies so that taxpayers’ money reaches the destinations that is should reach: the schools, hospitals, infrastructure projects for which that money was earmarked. The United States wants to continue collaborating so that the next 25 years will be more peaceful and much more prosperous.