Session Notes for June 9, 2006 Conference

First Published: 2006-06-02

If you missed the conference, here are the broad session notes.

Session 1: Free Trade: FTAA and CSME, Which Road to Prosperity and Freedom?

A key reason for creating trade associations and alliances is to, using the words of Adam Smith, increase "the peace and tranquility among nations." Although fast tracks to FTAA and CSME seem stalled (or impossible), the increased integration of the economies of the Americas is still being pursued under different models. The US-led FTAA process is moving forward through a second-best approach of bi-lateral trade agreements or agreements with regional blocks such as CAFTA-DR. In an effort to present a competing vision or even antagonize the US, other "trading" blocks are being promoted with political rather than economic intentions – Mercosur, with little justification, is opening its doors to Chavez's Venezuela, which is leaving the Andean community. Caribbean civil societies will have to choose the better road to integration including unilateral openings or bilateral trade agreements. Prominent foreign and local speakers will be addressing this issue in depth during the first morning session. Brian Dean, for many years at the International Republican Institute, is now leading the most important organization pushing for the dream of an American continent united by free trade. His presentation will be complemented with views from Brian Moree, Attorney-At-Law of McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes, Nassau N.P. Bahamas and Jose Perales, of Manchester Trade. It will be moderated by Prof. Leonard Liggio, senior Vice President of the Mont Pelerin Society, which counts more Economic Nobel Laureates than any other market oriented organization.

Session 2: The Challenge to Freedom in the Caribbean: Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela

The close friendship of the rulers of Cuba and Venezuela, sometimes described as Cubazuela, driven by Chavez and Castro, and fueled by oil income, is increasing the efforts to increase the dominance of these totalitarian regimes in the region. Haiti has been another trouble spot in the region, with Cuba and Venezuela waiting for the best moment to engineer the return of former ruler Jean Bertrand Aristide. This session will examine how the actions of the political forces that dominate these three countries' actions impact the security of their neighboring countries from politics to immigration and trade. Topics to be discussed include: Petrocaribe as a tool of infiltration and dominance; building Caribbean "Social" funds with petrodollars; paying for oil with spies or "free medical advice"; cheap loans for oil in exchange of further socialization of energy companies.

The session will be moderated by Manuel Cutillas, former CEO of Baccardi, and have as speakers Stephen Johnson, of the Heritage Foundation and great field experience in Central and South America; Anibal Romero, leading political scientist from troubled Venezuela, and Hans Tippenhauer, of Haiti.

Keynote Address: Francisco Flores, former president of El Salvador

As the president of a small nation that reached its greatest levels of poverty reduction and prosperity during his term, Francisco Flores has the unique perspective of how to navigate all of the issues touched on at this conference: Prosperity, Freedom, Security, and the Next Generation. During his presidency from 1999-2004, El Salvador achieved the highest index rate of poverty reduction in the region, the highest public investment in the history of the country, the consolidation of macroeconomic stability with a new monetary regimen, and a reduction of the fiscal deficit that allowed the country to achieve the lowest interest rates and inflation in the last 25 years. He reached a 72% approval rate from the people at the end of his presidency, a big increase from a 52% rate of popular support when assumed the presidency. President Flores is recognized as the visionary leader of an integrated Central America. In 2005, Flores founded the America Libre Institute to help further his vision of a free, prosperous, and integrated Americas.

Session 3: Empowering the Young: Inspiring Noble Purpose through Entrepreneurship and Character

The future prosperity of every country lies in the hands of the youth. But one needs to create the institutions that provide the right incentives for those hands and exploring minds to bear their fruit. This session will examine the importance of character, entrepreneurship, and education in shaping today's youth. Small countries like Estonia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and even Ireland, have shown that even in the course of one generation, the right incentives can turn small countries into lands of opportunity rather than migration. Leaders from renowned foundations of the United States and the Americas (Kimon Sargeant from the John Templeton Foundation, and Cristina Vollmer Burelli, from ALAFA) will explore successful programs that help build character and strengthen the spirit.

Representatives from Junior Achievement, the largest organization in the world devoted to the promotion of efforts that empower the young to seek opportunities to create wealth, will lead an interactive session with local leaders and bright Bahamian Junior Achievers. But what are the barriers in the Bahamian educational system preventing the young from reaching their potential? Barrie Farrington will explore these barriers and offer solutions.

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