"I have truly seen a full commitment by this government to strengthen relationships with Central America and El Salvador," Ambassador Werner Romero said, adding "I think this is an honest commitment."
El Salvador's ambassador to the UK Werner Romero addressed students and staff at LSE during an event about the future of UK and El Salvador's diplomatic relationships, organised by ICS volunteer Sam Peat. Sam recently spent ten weeks working with Progressio partners in El Salvador and invited both Ambassador Romero and the UK's ambassador to El Salvador Linda Cross to speak at a seminar hosted by LSE’s Central and Southern America Society.
Action on environmental issues, improving personal security and increasing trade between the UK and El Salvador were top of the agenda with both ambassadors having much to say about the joint projects recently undertaken by their respective countries.
Ambassador Romero talked animatedly about the way in which El Salvador is beginning to tackle climate change and take environmental issues seriously – largely thanks to the current Minister for the Environment Herman Rosa Cháve. Minister Chave has been extremely impressed by the UK’s approach to environmental governance and has been proactive about encouraging an environmental consciousness in El Salvador, MR Romero informed everyone.
El Salvador is also increasing investment in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to help mitigate the effects of increasingly frequent extreme weather conditions, threatening peoples' livelihoods and lives.
In order to address the 'stubborn issue' of poor personal security in El Salvador, as Ambassador Romero referred to it, the UK has hosted Salvadorian police officers on training courses to help improve policing in Central America’s smallest state. British police officers have also visited El Salvador to share their experiences about training police men and women and tackling street crime.
Ambassador Cross met ICS volunteer Sam in the summer during his time in El Salvador and said that, "Programmes such as ICS were a very important part of raising El Salvador’s profile in the UK." Ms Cross went on to say that she was, “Privileged and honoured to be in the position of reopening the British embassy in San Salvador," which ocurred in November 2012 having been closed in 2003 for cost cutting reasons.
Ambassador Cross spoke about a project recently run in schools around San Salvador focussing on 'saying no to violence' both among peers and in the home. This project was extremely well-received and Ms Cross is now looking to roll it out to other Central American countries.
The British Embassy is also supporting Salvadorian NGO PRISMA (Salvadoran Research Program on Development and Environment) to carry out research and training on water management.
“Our ties have been characterised by cordiality and mutual respect,” Ambassador Romero remarked, “And I am confident that with the reopening of the embassy a new chapter of good relationships between the UK and El Salvador will begin.”
Afterwards Sam relfected that, "The event went really well, I was particularly impressed by the great turnout and students interest and enthusiasm for the region."
Photo show Sam Peat (far left) introducing the panel (L to R) LSE professors Graham Philips and Colin Lewis, Ambassador Linda Cross and Ambassador Werna Romero.