Press Release

President's Remarks - Report on State of the Region by Office of Public Information

Remarks by President of the University of Belize
Dr. Cary Fraser
“At the Forum addressing the 2010 findings of the
4th Report on Central America State of the Region”
University of Belize, Jaguar Auditorium, April 26, 2012.

Please accept my apologies for being unable to be present.

I have asked Dr. Filiberto Penados, Research Director, University of Belize to kindly convey the remarks that I was planning to deliver today as part of my welcome to the presenter and the audience.  I was looking forward to joining the ongoing discussion about the state of the Central American region and the challenges that the states of the region face: (a) the disjuncture between the state and democracy within several countries in the region; (b) climate change and its implications for the region’s future; and, (3) “the political impasse that currently obstructs efforts to combat social exclusion.”

These are symptoms of a region that has a poor record of political and social integration within, and, among the constituent countries; a widespread predicament of fragmented authority structures; and, a profound ambivalence about strengthening the mechanisms of participatory governance within several countries. These problems of national and regional integration are compounded by the terms on which the countries of the region are integrated into the global economy and which have limited the capacity of the majority of these countries to escape the predicament of vulnerability to developments external to the region. In effect, the predicament of vulnerability has created an institutionalized pattern of dependence upon external actors to provide resources to manage changes within the region. 

As the challenges of climate change loom over the region, the question that emerges is:
To what extent can the response to climate change provide a platform for creating a viable mechanism for promoting the integration that the region needs to overcome the vulnerability which defines its geographical context and political environment? 
This sense of vulnerability is exacerbated by the increasing dynamism of other countries in the Americas – including Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. Those changes in the wider hemispheric context are both illustrating the limited capacity for structural transformation in Central America and raising the question of whether the region will experience further marginalization as the economic trajectory of these larger states in the hemisphere increase their leverage vis-à-vis the smaller states of the region.
As the global and hemispheric systems are being restructured in response to the shifting balances within the international order and the rise of an Asia-Pacific centered international system, the region’s role as a land-bridge between North and South America, and as a pathway between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, will need to be recalibrated in order to create opportunities for the long-term development of the region. Again, an important question emerges:
Will the restructuring of the hemispheric and global systems result in perpetuating a politics of fragmentation in the Central American region, or will it emphasize the importance of regional integration?

As the conversation unfolds today, I would hope that these issues can become an increasing focus of our thoughts about the present and the future. Predicaments also give birth to possibilities and I hope that the conversation can lead us towards the identification of possibilities that can provide for a sustainable and participatory politics in shaping the coming era of social and strategic reorientation of the region and its constituent societies.

I would like to thank everyone for the organization of this forum and for their participation in today’s presentation and discussion. I would also like to thank you for asking me to share my thoughts on these very important issues.
Best wishes.
The University of Belize (UB)…Education Empowers A Nation!

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