By Michael Harvey
On August 16, Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna finished his third term as President of the Dominican Republic. The Canadian Council for the Americas (CCA) will honour this hemispheric leader with the "Statesman of the Year Award" at our Annual Gala, to be held September 20th in Toronto, Canada.
For more than fifty years, the CCA has been the main private sector link between Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. The CCA continues to play a key role strengthening commercial relations between Canada and the region through the hosting of business-to-business meetings and symposiums with key decision makers and leading analysts on critical political and economic issues in the Americas. Throughout its history, the CCA has received at its headquarters several Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Ministers, as well as economists, analysts and senior business executives.
We in the CCA consider that the President richly deserves this Canadian recognition for the leadership he has exercised over the course of his mandate. Canadians have admired the important international role the President’s foreign policy efforts have given the Dominican Republic.
In 2008, President Fernández showed his strong mediation capacity when he facilitated dialogue between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela after the Colombian bombing of a FARC guerrilla camp in Ecuador. As host of the Rio Group Summit, President Fernández was able to help defuse tensions between the Presidents of the three countries.
In 2009, the Hemisphere was again witness to the mediation skills of President Fernández when he negotiated the Agreement for National Reconstruction and the Strengthening of
Democracy in Honduras. This Agreement ended four months of paralysis in Honduran national life in a way that was honourable for all parties.
Nor can we forget the immediate and generous response of President Fernández when neighbouring Haiti suffered the terrible earthquake of 2010. President Fernández responded with grace and led international efforts to help Haitians rebuild their country.
Canada and the Dominican Republic have a strong relationship in the political and economic spheres. The Pueblo Viejo mine, which has been referred to as the largest foreign investment in Dominican Republic, is a joint venture of two Canadian companies, Barrick Gold and Goldcorp. Another Canadian company, Scotiabank, is the oldest bank in the Dominican Republic. These investments are proof of the confidence Canadians have in the business climate in the Dominican Republic. In addition, over 750 000 Canadians visit the Dominican Republic every year!
We are honoured that President Fernández has agreed to accept our award and we hope that the people of the Dominican Republic will see this as recognition of the ties of friendship between our countries. We would welcome participation from the Dominican business community, and from Canadians with ties to the Dominican Republic.
Please contact email@example.com for details on how to participate.