HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 01-064
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For Release
June 26, 2001


en español

SAN SALVADOR - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in which El Salvador and the U.S. pledged to collaborate and exchange information on housing and community development.

Addressing a joint news conference on the second day of his three-day trip to El Salvador, Martinez told Vice President Carlos Quintanilla Schmidt, Public Works Minister Jose Quiros and others at the news conference that the Memorandum of Cooperation would serve both countries in the long term.

"There's a great deal we can learn from each other, such as how best to design housing finance programs for low-income households, construct affordable homes, and establish urban and regional economic development programs," he said.

Martinez described his visit to the town of San Vicente, where the clock on the tower of the central square stands frozen at the exact moment the February 13 quake hit, and his helicopter inspections of remote Guadalupe and densely populated Verapaz.

"It's almost impossible to describe how moving it was to see the vast devastation caused by the earthquakes. I'll report back to President Bush that our financial support is critically needed, and will go far in helping restore these devastated Salvadoran communities. I'm also proud of the contribution that the United States, through American non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has made toward reconstruction," Martinez said.

Martinez also announced $5 million of President Bush's pledge of $110 million in earthquake relief over the next two years will be made available to El Salvador within 30 days. The HUD Secretary, the first member of President Bush's Cabinet to visit El Salvador, explained that the aid, which was granted following the talks Presidents Bush and Francisco Flores held in Washington in March, will be distributed through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Martinez's announcement brought to $40 million the amount that the United States has made available to this Central American country since March.

"President Bush has promised that we will stand not behind you, but beside you, as our nations work together to relieve the sufferings brought on by the earthquakes´┐Żand Hurricane Mitch," said Martinez.

Martinez explained that the $5 million would go to the construction of permanent homes and rural schools and the purchase of critically needed medical equipment for midwives and municipal health workers. El Salvador, still rebuilding from the ravages caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, was hit by back-to-back earthquakes last January and February.

Martinez, who led a delegation of U.S. officials and representatives from non-profit organizations and the business community, noted that the second objective of the trip was to study ways to make future disasters less catastrophic.

"Over the long term, I think the discussions we began this week will help our countries face the next natural disaster with more certainty, knowing that although we cannot prevent it, we can help minimize the devastation," he said.

Martinez's department took an active role in El Salvador's reconstruction following Hurricane Mitch, which affected more than 10,000 homes and left nearly 56,000 Salvadorans homeless. HUD put its expertise to work through a $1.1 million program focused on enhancing building and construction methods, and improving the availability of housing finance.

The United States has been in the forefront of relief activities since Mitch, providing $37.7 million in hurricane relief and reconstruction aid and $25 million in earthquake relief. The $110 million committed to El Salvador following the Flores-Bush talks in Washington are in addition to those figures.



Content Archived: March 26, 2010