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Guest Voz: CEO of new Clinton Foundation initiative explains work to reverse inequality in Latin America

By Carlos Fernandez
LatinaLista — Carlos Fernandez is the CEO of the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI), a partnership between the William J. Clinton Foundation and a host of private sector, governments and local communities working together to increase economic development in areas where there is widespread poverty.

Carlos Fernandez
The initiative was established in June 2007 by former President Bill Clinton and Frank Giustra. It focuses on alleviating poverty in Latin America by helping create jobs and strengthening support for local health and education initiatives that, in turn, help strengthen the local economy.
Going from the idea stage to reality, Mr. Fernandez oversees a range of programs that are taking off in countries all over Latin America. Each program either targets the health and education of children or supporting the creation of small businesses by people who never would have had the opportunity.
In a special “Guest Voz,” Mr. Fernandez explains the important work being done by CGSGI and the difference it’s already made in the lives of our neighbors to the south of the United States.

Today, many people around the world are giving back – and giving to each other. More than ever, we know the communities and economies of our planet are connected by a thousand threads of language, culture, hopes, and ideas – but not by equal access to education, health, or opportunity.
Responding to this challenge, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Frank Giustra are working together to reverse the rising rates of inequality and the yawning gap between rich and the poor. Recently, they established the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI) to create real improvements in the lives of the most disadvantaged in Latin America – and beyond – and to transform the way that businesses do business in the developing world.
We are not doing this by giving away money; we instead are showing new ways for businesses to both do well and do good. By using the resources of the private sector to reduce obstacles in peoples’ lives and provide more tools for people to succeed, we are making progress. And by working with local communities, leaders, non-governmental organizations, governments, and businesses, we are hopeful these gains will be sustained.

Maritza Parra Córdoba of Colombia is one of our partners. Thirteen years ago, she and a small group of women in the Department of Chocó organized themselves into La Red de Mujeres para el Desarrollo, and began to grow, process, and sell organic spices, such as basil, cilantro, ginger and turmeric.
CGSGI is providing them with marketing and management assistance, and today, their business is thriving and growing with each passing year. Maritza’s success is continuing to help shape the community around her by creating and retaining jobs and opportunities. And although Maritza was unable to afford to go to college, she is able to provide that opportunity to her children — she has sent two of her daughters to university to study business administration and environmental engineering in Quibdó.
CGSGI staff is working with other partners throughout Colombia to help develop their practical skills and open their access to jobs and higher wages. In the coastal area of Bahia Cupica, for example, we are helping 150 fishermen to strengthen their cooperative and to grow their business, so they can raise their community’s standard of living and well-being.
In Peru, we are partnering to reduce chronic child malnutrition in the Cajamarca region, where undernourishment is not associated with scarcity of food but rather with poor nutrition and a lack of education. We are helping to connect families with the support and knowledge needed to provide clean, healthy homes and nutritious meals to their children, and we are tracking their children’s weight, height, and vaccination status to measure their progress.
Besides nutrition, we also are working on the issue of blindness: two years ago, 83,000 cases of cataracts were reported in Peru, and CGSGI is providing resources to enable 50,000 cataract surgeries over the next three years.
I am proud of the work of CGSGI in its short history in Colombia and Peru, and I am eager to move forward and onward to the other challenges on which we can work together to make a difference in the lives of others.

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  • Antonio Gonzalez
    January 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Latin America don’t needs any
    Clinton and other”lacayos” .

  • Grandma
    January 30, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    “Latin America don’t needs any
    Clinton and other”lacayos” .
    So much for trying to help Mexico.

  • Irma
    January 31, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Way to go Bill! Still, my favorite politician- even with the personal flaw that
    everyone is aware of.
    I knew when he gave that boring speech at the DNC
    that he would be President
    of the United States.

  • Senor Pescado
    February 1, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    yea, what WILL they do here?
    i guess some guilt at their dope biz into Mena for years with bush daddy, cheney etc. Hilary needs to come clean,especially on the 130 dead from this place and attempts at investigation
    otherwise what type is she to represent USA as Sec of State, no one here, in Central America that is educated people likes her, and knows their crap, and especially with Uribe
    stop plan Colombia, and another waste of USA taxpayer money
    the people are waking up
    we will see, I will ask them for some funds for my artisenal fishermen here in C.A. and see what they say, if I stop my Mena rants everywhere

  • Irma
    February 6, 2009 at 10:45 am

    No one who is educated in Central America likes Hilary? Who cares ?
    She is not out to win a popularity contest.
    I have confidence in her ability to
    ably represent and move forward
    American interests.

  • laura
    February 6, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Irma, I am sorry to disagree with you profoundly. Former President Clinton was no friend to Latina/os, neither here nor in Latin America. And I have never heard his wife distance herself from any of his policies that affected latina/os.
    For example, NAFTA which Bill Clinton pushed through led to millions of corn farmers in Mexico losing their land because they couldn’t compete with US corn that was suddenly permitted to flood the Mexican markets. US corn is very heavily subsidized and can therefore be sold very cheaply. As a result, today Mexico can’t produce its own corn for its tortillas. Worse, those millions of farmers couldn’t support their families – what could they do but try to go where there was hope of work – the US? Do you think Clinton didn’t know this? Do you think he didn’t know there were no visas for them? Do you think he didn’t know they would be without rights here, since they were here without visas?
    Clinton also passed the law in 1996 that said that children of green card holders could not get Medicaid for 5 years. Another law he passed in 1996 stipulates that any green card holder can and should be deported of they are convicted of a crime: in the context of the “war on drugs” you know what that means – millions of people who had marijuana are susceptible to being deported.
    Now he gets millions for his foundation from people all over the world who want to buy into some influence in the US. And he will give some of that money to the people whose livelihoods he destroyed 15 years ago?
    I am sorry – that kind of “good works” or whatever they want to call it does not fool the Devil who is waiting for Bill Clinton’s soul.

  • laura
    February 6, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Senor Pescado, what is Mena?
    What fisheries are you referring to?

  • Irma
    February 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I am not an economist so I cannot confirm what you say the impact of NAFTA was on the Mexican corn farmer, But I would remind you that I am least favor economic policy that favors the United States first and then Mexico. I do not blame Clinton
    for doing what he did – I blame Mexico
    for not responding in a way that favored
    Mexico. If the result was to essentially
    stimulate illegal immigration towards the US- then this is Clinton’s fault. But I suggest to you that it was perhaps a good thing ? Those Mexicans are better off here than in Mexico at least in light
    of the drug cartel’s current control of
    my ancestral country.
    As for green card holders and their families. I AGREE with the idea that there should be restrictions put in place to prevent green card holders from using this benefit to take advantage of the US. I happen to think that these days Medicaid IS overused. It didnt exist when I was growing up, but I doubt
    we would have used it. I was taught not to rely on LIMOSNA -that was for people who had nowhere to live ie.
    they were really poor. I can be
    objective, some people do take advantage of the system. Clinton’s
    check was a good idea.

  • laura
    February 9, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Irma, how could a program that provides health care to low income children be overused? By them going to the pediatrician too often? Getting too many immunizations? Getting too much advice on accident prevention, on wearing a bicycle helmet? By getting too many vision or hearing screening tests? I’m sorry, Irma – that’s not logical. In fact, the SCHIP bill that President Obama signed a couple of days ago reverses the five year ban on Medicaid use for children of green card holders. That whole morally decrepit ban, put into place by the Clinton administration, is gone.
    I wish it were so easy to undo some of his other awful deeds – NAFTA large among them. Yes, the Mexican government should not have sold out its people. But even more than the US government, it is controlled by the richest of the rich – and during the last Mexican presidential election, George W. Bush certainly intervened to keep it that way. Without manipulations supported by the US government, the name of the Mexican president today would be Obrador. (
    None of which excuses Clinton’s actions.

  • Irma
    February 10, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    You are misrepresenting my point. Medicaid is for Americans. Green card holders should not use it as a medical insurance.
    I applaud Obama’s generousity-
    but in time he will have to place
    restrictions as well. People apparently
    are taking advantage – my parents would call them “sin verguenzas.”
    Advice on wearing a bicycle helmet?
    Please, if you can afford a bicycle, you can
    afford to pay for your own doctor or health insurance. I know , because
    you see, because I am one of 5 children that shared one bicycle – my father
    paid for our medical care out of his pocket. There was no health insurance
    and no Medicaid as well.
    Vaccinations ? That was free, for
    American citizens.

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