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Central American Presidents Seek to Strengthen U.S. Regional Trade


In a series of exclusive live television interviews at VOA, three Central American presidents stressed the benefits of passing the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade pact and thanked President Bush for his support.

Washington, D.C., May 13, 2005 - Three Central American presidents visiting Washington to support passage of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade pact (CAFTA-DR) stressed its benefits and thanked President Bush for his support during a series of exclusive live television interviews at the Voice of America (VOA).

In their interviews, the Latin American leaders discussed the importance of having better trade relations with the U.S., which Dr. Enrique Bolaños, the president of Nicaragua, called "the biggest market in the world." El Salvador President Elías Antonio Saca noted, "The worst thing that can happen to Central America is to be left alone by the United States."

After meeting at the White House, Bolaños said President Bush "is totally in favor of CAFTA." President Ricardo Maduro of Honduras pointed out the benefits to his and neighboring countries, saying, "The approval of (CAFTA-DR) will give our government the possibility to generate highly sustainable economic growth."

Supporters say this economic growth will decrease illegal immigration to the U.S. by reducing poverty and creating new jobs in these countries. The Salvadoran president also asked the U.S. to aid immigrants already here. "I discussed immigration reforms with President Bush, and I found him receptive," Saca told VOA.

During the interview, Saca for the first time also publicly applauded the new immigration reform bill introduced in Congress by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA).

The interviews aired live today on television and radio. Nicaragua's President Enrique Bolaños appeared on the weekly VOA TV show Foro Interamericano (Inter-American Forum). Interview excerpts also aired on Desde Washington (From Washington), VOA's weekday Spanish-language television news broadcast for Latin America. The interviews and all programs are available at www.VOANews.com/Spanish.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in Spanish and 43 other languages, including English.

For more information, call the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 401-7000, or E-Mail publicaffairs@voa.gov.

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