Institute of the Americas Hosts a Discussion on Western Hemisphere Issues

November 2, 2017

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

On Monday, Oct. 30, several officials and intellectuals welcomed a presentation and discussion on critical issues in the Americas, and the role the United States is or is planning on playing in those countries.

The Institute of the Americas, an independent nonprofit organization on the campus of UC San Diego, hosted the event, which featured special guest Francisco Palmieri, acting assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs.

Palmieri was greeted with an audience made up of two consul generals, intellectuals, executives and many more.

President and CEO of the institute, Jamal Khokhar, introduced Palmieri and said that as a region we tend to focus on U.S., Mexico, Cali Baja interests, but it is also important to engage or learn to engage with the complete Western Hemisphere.

Palmieri, who insisted on being called Paco, spoke about several of the serious challenges in the Americas, which include: criminal groups, corruption, defending democracy, and natural disaster responses.

“The prosperity of the United States and the prosperity of the Western Hemisphere as you all know are inextricably linked,” Palmieri said. “Growth in our region creates better stability.”

In reference to criminal groups, the acting assistant secretary of state mentioned the efforts made to help law enforcement agencies with criminal organizations like MS-13, an international criminal gang.

Palmieri spoke on the importance of fighting against corruption in an effort to promote democracy.

“With a few exceptions we have seen Democracy and peace flourish across the hemisphere,” Palmieri said.

He expressed great concern for Democracy in Venezuela but addressed that the region has not been silent. He also mentioned that although China’s interests in natural resources have helped some countries, the involvement in Venezuela has to be scrutinized.

During the Q&A portion of the discussion, Palmieri gave updates on investigating the attacks on diplomats in Cuba and gave insight on how American companies should approach business in parts of the Western Hemisphere.

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