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Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
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Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

Regional map of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

The Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs is headed by Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., who is responsible for managing and promoting U.S. interests in the region by supporting democracy, trade, and sustainable economic development, and fostering cooperation on issues such as drug trafficking and crime, poverty reduction, and environmental protection.

Mission: We are working with our partners in the Americas to generate broad-based growth through freer trade and sound economic policies; to invest in the well-being of people from all walks of life; and to make democracy serve every citizen more effectively and justly.

Objectives: We are strengthening an Inter-American community formed by:

  • Economic partners that are democratic, stable, and prosperous;
  • Friendly neighbors that help secure our region against terrorism and illegal drugs;
  • Nations that work together in the world to advance shared political and economic values.

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The Merida Initiative
U.S. and Mexico Reaffirm Commitment
Date: 12/19/2008 Location: Washington, D.C. Description: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gestures as Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa, left, looks on during a joint press conference. © AP PhotoThe Merida Initiative is a multi-year program that demonstrates the United States' commitment to work in partnership with governments in Mexico, the nations of Central America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti to confront criminal organizations whose illicit actions undermine public safety, erode the rule of law, and threaten the national security of the United States.

Secretary Rice (Dec. 19): "In Merida, the United States and Mexico have reaffirmed a commitment to enhanced partnership, cooperation, training, assistance, information sharing, built on the premise that we have a shared responsibility to confront these criminals and protect our citizens, and that success requires increased cooperation." Full Text | Joint Statement | More about the Merida Initiative.

Pathways to Prosperity
Date: 12/10/2008 Location: Panama City, Panama Description: Official group photo from the Pathways to Prosperity meeting. Panama City, Panama, December 10, 2008. © AP PhotoSecretary Rice traveled to Panama to meet with President Torrijos to discuss bilateral issues, including trade and education. She lead an interagency team to participate in the first Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial meeting. The Pathways initiative will deepen existing partnerships and cooperation to ensure that the benefits of free trade and open investment are broadly shared throughout our societies.

Secretary Rice: "This groundbreaking forum is bringing together partners who share a fundamental commitment to expanding opportunities for their people. And that commitment is grounded in democratic values, and it is also grounded in a belief that open markets and free trade leads to growth, and that that can indeed be used to promote social mobility." Full Text | Pathways to Prosperity Website | Secretary Rice's Travel Page


Common Values, Shared Interests
Read about the U.S. promise of sustained, enduring engagement in the Western Hemisphere. Fact Sheet

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Deadline Approaches
Travelers should apply now for documents that will be required at all land or sea border entry points as of June 1, 2009. On that date, under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, U.S. citizens will be required to present a government-approved document that denotes both citizenship and identity when entering the U.S. More

Date: 12/10/2008 Description: Pathways to Prosperity website State Dept Photo

Pathways to Prosperity Website
The Pathways to Prosperity initiative will deepen existing partnerships tion in the Western Hemispher to ensure that the benefits of free trade and open investment are broadly shared throughout societies in our region. 
Pathways-Caminos Website

Visit Consular Affairs to keep up with Travel Warnings, travel-related Public Announcements, and other items of interest to travelers. Read DHS press release regarding the end of Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) temporary accommodation.

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