The full implementation of the Central American Peace Plan hatched 25 years ago this week remains a pending task in the region, according to former Guatemalan President and peace-plan signatory Vinicio Cerezo.
Marginalization of youth, organized crime, gender inequality, poverty and hunger are some of the problems afflicting the region and impeding the full realization of the peace plan, according to Cerezo and other delegates who participated in this week’s Central American Integration (SICA) meeting in Managua.
“We still have a pending agenda. In each one of our countries there are still many sectors that are not participating in power—they are not a part of the wellbeing that we have achieved in recent years,” Cerezo said. “We still have a pending agenda to benefit women and the youth. We need to create new possibilities for them to participate.”
Cerezo was the guest of honor at Wednesday’s summit, where SICA president pro tempore Daniel Ortega decorated the former Guatemalan president with Nicaragua’s Order of Rubén Darío for his role in drafting the 1987 Central American Peace Plan, known as “Esquipulas II.”
Former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who will participate with Cerezo in an OAS forum on Esquipulas II next week in Washington, D.C., won the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort in drafting the regional peace plan. Arias’ solo recognition has been a touchy subject for the other signatories.
In 2007, President Ortega said he thinks former Salvadoran President Napoleón Duarte should have won the peace prize. Cerezo, meanwhile, has said he thinks all five presidents should have shared the Nobel.
This week, however, President Ortega was slightly more diplomatic about the issue. The Nicaraguan president recognized Arias’ efforts in the Peace Plan, but downplayed his protagonism.
Ortega said when the Costa Rican President received his Nobel Prize, “There was the whole Central American region receiving this award through the person of President Oscar Arias.”
Cerezo, meanwhile, dedicated his Order of Rubén Darío to former Honduran President José Azcona and former Salvadoran President Duarte, for their roles in the Central American Peace Plan.
The former Guatemalan president said that Central American integration today embodies the spirit of Esquipulas II by obliging countries to put aside political differences and work together on joint solutions to common problems that threaten regional peace.
“Now the region is facing the scourge of drug trafficking and organized crime, which are the main obstacles that we face today,” Cerezo said. “We need to continue consolidating the peace process and stability in Central America to allow us to create more wealth and better distribute it.”
During Wednesday’s summit, attended by the presidents from Honduras and El Salvador, the secretary general of the OAS, and foreign ministry representatives from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Belize and the Dominican Republic, Ortega stressed the importance of unifying the region on common agenda items such as fighting transnational crime and working on regional food security.
Several delegates spoke of the need to integrate young people as productive members of society.
President Funes of El Salvador stressed the importance of combating hunger in the region by proposing a plan to develop a Central American Common Food Market to mitigate the effects of fluctuating food prices and climate change.
President Ortega agreed.
“We need a price policy to stimulate food production, an incentives policy and a marketing policy to assure producers a fair average price to stimulate continued production and to ensure conditions for food security for the entire Central American region,” Ortega said.
Next week: Gen. Humberto Ortega, founder of the Sandinista Popular Army, talks to The Nicaragua Dispatch about what he now considers the greatest threat to regional peace 25 years after Esquipulas II.