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The failure to narrow the inequality gap in Latin America, a need for effective economic integration, and the importance of investment in infrastructure and education were among the issues spotlighted during the XVII Annual CAF Conference sponsored by CAF - Development Bank of Latin America, the Inter-American Dialogue and the Organization of American States.


Immigration, drug trafficking, social unrest, election cycles, and innovation were also addressed during panel discussions at the September 4-5 gathering in Washington, D.C.

Each year, the conference brings together government officials from Latin America and the US, economists, lawmakers, bankers, business leaders, journalists, and academics to discuss the most pressing issues affecting the Americas. The 2013 conference saw record-setting attendance: More than 1,000 people took part in the two-day global conference. 

During a keynote address, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos warned that the hemisphere, rather than pursuing needed integration, was gravitating toward an east-west division that separated countries on the Pacific Ocean from those on the Atlantic. 

“I used to think of Latin America in terms of south and north, but I never thought of Latin America from east to west,” he said. He likened this emerging division to the one created centuries ago, when the Treaty of Tordesillas split the New World between Spain and Portugal. 

“Now we have a similar situation, with the countries of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Atlantic Ocean countries on the other. This is a huge mistake,” said Lagos. “We need to speak with a single voice, help those countries that are falling behind, and break the division between the Pacific nations and the Atlantic nations.”

He called on Latin America for greater involvement in rebuilding Haiti and in forwarding the peace process in Colombia. “If we resolve our own problems, we can engage in an inter-American dialogue with the United States on more equal terms,” he said.

Integration and alliances also came under discussion during a presentation by José María Aznar, the former prime minister of Spain and an advocate for the Atlantic Basin Initiative. The initiative was created in April 2012 to study political, economic, social, cultural and technological opportunities if countries look beyond traditional alliances of the North Atlantic.  MORE