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December 15, 1998

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The outpouring of support for Central America has come from Tierra Del Fuego to Alaska, and will continue to do so. Central America is the natural bridge that bonds North and South America. We share more than just borders with the 32 million people of Central America --we share family. Our lives are forever linked.

Tipper Gore
December 15, 1998

Today, Tipper Gore addresses a conference of private sector leaders at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to discuss the U.S. commitment to helping Central American nations damaged by Hurricane Mitch rebuild.

A Presidential Commitment To Help Countries Of Central America Rebuild. The devastation created by Hurricane Mitch did substantial damage to countries in Central America. Both First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tipper Gore have traveled to the region, surveyed damage, and announced efforts on behalf of the Administration. As the needs of Central American countries shift from emergency disaster relief to long-term reconstruction, the United States will be there to assist in any way we can. Last week, President Clinton announced his intention to visit the region next year to survey the recovery efforts.

Comprehensive Relief Aid For Distressed Nations. The United States has provided critical support to the Central American region since Hurricane Mitch struck. The U.S. has provided numerous resources, including:

  • The Department of Defense has provided $150 million to support relief and rehabilitation efforts, including more than 3,000 soldiers who are assisting in clearing and repairing key roads, providing disease control and treatment, delivering relief supplies, and providing engineering expertise;
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided $87 million in food and other relief assistance, including more than $52 million in food aid, enough to feed over 50 percent of those requiring food assistance, $30 million to help provide health care and temporary shelter, and other rehabilitation efforts, and $5 million to revitalize small businesses impacted by the hurricane. USAID will immediately direct $120 million to reconstruction efforts in Central America by reprogramming existing food and other funding and reallocating recently appropriated funding assistance;
  • The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing food aid and concessional loans, valued at $63 million. USDA is donating 120,000 metric tons of wheat to Honduras and Nicaragua, 60,000 metric tons of wheat for Guatamala and El Salvador, and 50,000 metric tons of corn for the four countries. USDA will also provide 420 million in grants for Honduras and Nicaragua for the purchase of beans, dry milk, vegetable oil, rice, and other basic commodities;
  • The U.S. and other creditor nations have relieved Honduras and Nicaragua from their debt service obligations through the year 2001, while encouraging other nations to do the same;
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing $5 million to assist in the reconstruction of homes in Central America;
  • The Department of Commerce will lead a business development mission to Central America next year that will include U.S. business leaders with expertise in critical areas such as infrastructure, environmental technology, and agriculture;
  • The Overseas Private Investment Corporation will work to spur private sector investment, starting with an initiative to accelerate more than $200 million in new projects for the region.

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