SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador - The U.S. ambassador to El Salvador expressed appreciation to the New Hampshire National Guard for its contribution to the State Partnership Program during a recent trip made by Guard members here.
Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte said that building connections with the Salvadoran community has been an important factor of the State Partnership Program, which is centered around a mutually beneficial exchange of military, business, and educational expertise.
"The fact that the New Hampshire National Guard has taken a special interest in El Salvador has been wonderful for our bilateral relationship," she said. "Regular visits of New Hampshire National Guard personnel to the country, often to the same locations year after year, provide a sense of continuity in terms of people-to-people relations."
Ambassador Aponte and her staff visit Salvadorans in the community regularly and they have had the opportunity to see the impact of the State Partnership Program firsthand.
"I know that U.S. Embassy personnel in San Salvador do our best to visit people and projects and neighborhoods in the course of our regular duties," she said. "But when groups of Guard personnel come down on a regular basis and present gifts or construct schools or bring messages from the people of New Hampshire, it adds a unique connection with that community that makes residents there feel especially appreciated. That connection, in turn, helps to spread the message that Americans care about this country in a way that official embassy-sponsored donation events could never do."
Aponte identified the value of the NHNG's relationship with El Salvador.
"El Salvador is a country that is vulnerable to severe natural disasters resulting from hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides and volcanic activity," Aponte said. "I know that the Guard has responded superbly to similar emergencies in their home state and in neighboring states, such as in the case of Hurricane Sandy. I would love to see you continue to share your experiences about disaster response with the Salvadoran institutions responsible for responding to such events in this country."
She pointed out the importance of the relationship building that takes place during the visits to El Salvador.
"We welcome any person-to-person interactions that can help to further our good relations with the citizens of this country," said Aponte. "For all its beautiful mountains and pristine beaches, El Salvador is not without its problems. It is the people-to-people interactions, like those fostered by the State Partnership Program, that inspire people to find new and creative ways to improve the world around them."
"Thank you for your interest in this small but wonderful country," said Aponte. "You picked a magnificent corner of the world in which to invest your time and attention. I can assure you with absolute confidence that Salvadorans maintain very positive views of the United States and appreciate the work that is done here."
The ambassador encourages members of the Guard to continue to participate in this important state partnership.
"Please continue to return and share your experiences with the people of this great country," said Aponte. "If you need any assistance in your outreach, I guarantee that our U.S. Embassy mission here in San Salvador will be always happy to help."
The State Partnership Program with El Salvador has been active since 2000 and has produced eighty-four mutually beneficial exchanges with New Hampshire. More than twenty events are planned for 2013.