Council convenes the largest bipartisan U.S. Congressional delegation in history to the Dominican Republic and Antigua


Ramón Zertuche
Program Manager, Latin American & Caribbean
Inter-American Economic Council
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Suite 207
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 548-0400 / (202) 548-0427 (fax)
[email protected]


Washington, DC (Jan 18, 2005) -- The Inter American Economic Council (IAEC) organized the largest bipartisan U.S. Congressional delegation in history to the Dominican Republic and Antigua.

During their visit to the Dominican Republic the 11 Members of Congress, along with Council President Barry Featherman, participated in a wide ranging discussion with President Leonel Fernandez and Foreign Minister Carlos Morales at the Presidential Palace in Santo Domingo.

In welcoming the Members of Congress, several of whom represent New York, President Fernandez noted that because of the large Dominican Population in New York, many Dominicans think of New York as their second largest city. On the issue of Haiti, President Fernandez expressed the view that his government would do all in its power to promote stability and prosperity in its neighbor to the west. The 11 Members of Congress (two of whom represent districts in Florida) talked about their concerns for Haitian refugees, regional economic and political stability and the restoration of democracy in Haiti. President Fernandez also used the opportunity to make the case for the approval of the CAFTA/Dominican Republic Trade Agreement by the United States Congress. The President thanked the Members of Congress for the $100 million in humanitarian aid to the Hurricane-battered region.

While in Santo Domingo, the Members of Congress also received a briefing from U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Hans Hertell on U.S./Dominican Republic Relations under the new government. The Members of Congress later participated in a press conference with Ambassador Hertell.

Following their meetings in Santo Domingo, the Members of Congress visited the Eastern provinces of the country that had been badly damaged by Hurricane Jeanne.

On their return to Washington, the Members of Congress stopped off in Antigua to visit the Antigua Air Station, the principal regional United States Military Missile Tracking Station which employs over 150 people and includes maintenance, supply and support operations for tracking missiles. They also toured a U.S. Operated Medical School.

The delegation held a half day of talks at the Royal Antiguan Hotel Conference Center with the new Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Winston Baldwin Spencer. Items on the Agenda included offshore financial services, the patriot act, regional trade and investment and the WTO Ruling in the Internet Gaming Dispute.

In commenting on the visit, Council President Barry Featherman stated that the meeting with President Fernandez served to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the Dominican Republic by providing an opportunity for the new government to share its views with Members of the United States House of Representatives Congressional Caribbean Caucus on Haiti, Trade, Education, Security and Technology issues. Similarly, the meetings with Prime Minister Spencer provided the Members of Congress the opportunity to learn about the new government's plans and programs especially with the promotion of more regional investment. This visit underwritten by the Inter-American Economic Council also served to identify critical issues in Dominican Republic /US Relations and Antigua and Barbuda/U.S. relations.

About the Council
The Council's goal is to work with sub-regional groups within Latin America including the Andean Initiative, the Central America and the Caribbean Initiative to facilitate understanding and greater sensitivity and appreciation of specific regional issues. The primary mission of the Congressional Caribbean Caucus is to strengthen relations with the Countries of the Caribbean by providing an ongoing forum for continuous dialogue between the U.S. Congress and the Caribbean Political Leadership. The Council has cooperative agreements with the Organization of American States signed by the Council President with Dr. Cesar Gaviria in June of 2000 and the Caribbean Development Bank signed by President Featherman with Dr. Compton Bourne last December. The Council is chaired by Senator Christopher Thomas of Trinidad and Tobago, the former Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States.

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