Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President and Chancellor of the Republic of Panama, took part in an open discussion, organised and hosted by University Camilo José Cela, in which she discussed the challenges facing her country and Latin America, such as economic development, education or equality. The serious crises shaking Nicaragua and Venezuela, as well as the delicate situation of the “Northern Triangle”, made up by El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala were other topics highlighted in the conversation, opened by the Rector of UCJC, Samuel Martín-Barbero, who thanked Saint Malo for attending.
The deputy leader of the Panamanian government began her talk highlighting the strategic role played by her country in international trade, and highlighted the historical, cultural and economic ties with Spain. “Over 400 Spanish companies are based in Panama, generating an investment of over 3.5 billion dollars,” she said.
During the conference, she said that “nothing gives more strength to the relationship between two countries than cultural diplomacy and student mobility”, in addition to advocating, promoting and supporting scientific diplomacy through international commitments related to the global development agenda. Central topics tackled during the discussion featured education, as well as the “need” for gender equality in positions of responsibility in Latin America. “We view with concern that, despite the training and experience of Latin American women, they are not reaching management positions. More work needs to be done in this sense”, she said.
Insufficient attention to the crisis in Nicaragua and more pressure on Venezuela
De Saint Malo recognised in the discussion at the UCJC Almagro Campus her concern regarding the crisis in Nicaragua. “It is possible that the countries of the region are not paying enough attention”, and that “the percentage of victims (…) has been comparatively greater” than in Venezuela. She also highlighted that, additionally, Nicaragua suffers from an internal challenge of “producing candidates that can effectively participate in an electoral process and win elections”.
On Venezuela, she warned of the burgeoning humanitarian crisis and its contagion to neighbouring countries, due to the growing migratory flow that, according to the United Nations, has amounted to over three million in recent years and could reach five million by the end of the year.
The vice president of Panama expressed her support for the leadership of Juan Guaidó to prevent Nicolás Maduro from continuing with his mandate and, more particularly, via the Lima Group. During her address, she thanked the efforts of the European Union and defended a negotiated solution, although she emphasised an increase in pressure on Venezuela as the best way to resolve the crisis in the Latin American country and warns of the “geopolitical alignment” of countries who are using the situation as a confrontation scenario to fuel confrontation.
On other challenges facing Latin America, such as the situation of the northern triangle of Central America with El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, she spoke of the passage of intra and extra regional migrants through the area heading to the United States, which has generated a humanitarian crisis in the northern border of Mexico. She raised the responsibility of the international community has in striking a balance between making the passage of migrants more dignified, protecting their human rights and basic needs, with the guarantee of security and well-being of the region.