President Higgins to visit Peru, Colombia and Cuba next month

Latin America’s models of economic development hailed as force against ‘neoliberalism’

President Michael D Higgins signs a book of condolence for former Cuban Leader Fidel Castro at the Cuban Embassy in Dublin last November with his wife Sabina. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

President Michael D Higgins signs a book of condolence for former Cuban Leader Fidel Castro at the Cuban Embassy in Dublin last November with his wife Sabina. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Models of economic growth developed in Latin America provide a valuable alternative to “neoliberal” policies, President Michael D Higgins said Thursday as he announced details of a visit to the continent next month.

Mr Higgins said historically Irish men and women had played a major role in the development of Latin America and today the continent was “an innovative force in the world wide struggle against neoliberalism”.

“In recent years, Latin America has provided important examples of socially inclusive economic governance, its younger economists demonstrating great originality in their writings on achieving growth that delivers both sustainability and poverty reduction,” he said.

“According to the United Nations Development Programme, 90 million Latin Americas were lifted out of poverty and joined the middle class between 2000 and 2012. It was also the only region in the world that managed to reduce income inequality during the first decade of the 21st century.”

Speaking at University College Cork where he officially opened an exhibition on “The Irish in Latin America”, Mr Higgins revealed that he planned to visit Peru, Colombia and Cuba in February in what would be the first official visit by a serving President of Ireland to all three countries.

Mr Higgins will visit Peru at the invitation of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, before going on to meet senior members of the Peruvian Government and he will also deliver a keynote address on the contribution of Roger Casement to human rights in the Putamayo region in Peru.

At the invitation of President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, the President will visit Bogota for a meeting with President Santos and discussions on the background to the peace process in Colombia which has brought to an end the 40 year conflict between the authorities and FARC rebels.

The President will then conclude his South American tour by travelling to Havana at the invitation of the President of Cuba, Raoul Castro where will attend the Havana International Book Fair, one of the largest book fairs in the world.