El Salvador’s Secret: Freedom and Opportunity Cure Poverty is an address given by Francisco Flores, president of El Salvador, 1999-2004. It was delivered by on October 24, 2005, at the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, MI. Here is a quote from his address:
The important message is this: Fifteen years ago, El Salvador was destroyed by war, seven years ago by hurricanes, four years ago by earthquakes. Extremely poor, 15 years ago, some 60 percent of the population lived under the poverty line. The country was totally dependent on its traditional agricultural exports and unable to honor its financial obligations. Fifteen years ago, its infrastructure had collapsed: Roads, energy systems, water distribution, telecommunications.
Today, El Salvador is a different country. It has the most accelerated poverty reduction rate in Latin America. From 60 percent to 30 percent under the poverty line, El Salvador has reduced its poverty level by half in twelve years. Twenty-five percent of our population could not read nor write; now it is down to 12 percent. Infant mortality has dropped from 45 out of a thousand births to 24.
The unemployment rate has dropped from 13 percent to 6.5 percent. Interest rates have lowered from 30 percent in 1992 to 6.8 percent last year. El Salvador has the lowest inflation rate in Latin America, and its fiscal discipline has earned it the coveted investment grade, only held by El Salvador, Chile and Mexico.