Secretary Kerry traveled to Panama City, Panama today to attend the Presidential inauguration of Juan Carlos Varela. You can follow his travel on @StateDept and on

It Starts With One: Alumni, Youth Empowerment, and a Vision for a Better Future

Regional Alumni Enrichment Workshop on Youth Empowerment and Citizen Security in Costa Rica [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Jeff Weinshenker serves as a Public Diplomacy Officer in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

It all starts with one. One idea. One individual. One community. And one vision for a better future.

It starts with Juan Pablo in Bolivia teaching at-risk youth how to express themselves through sports and culture, developing their own identity so others won’t define it for them.

It starts with Martha in Costa Rica or Yelitza in Panama, who found ways to reach the “unreachable” — gang members, drug users, and school dropouts in whom others had given up hope.

Sometimes it begins with an idea — teaching robotics to 10-year-olds in a drug-ravaged community in Costa Rica. Piece by piece, with the support of dedicated adults, these boys and girls learn to construct something bigger — engines, cars, complex systems — and along the way, they rebuild themselves and their neighborhoods.

These moments of inspiration exist across… more »

Little League: A Big Hit for Young Sports Visitors

Youths from Ecuador, Mexico, and Panama participate in a baseball clinic as part of the SportsUnited program, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Kelli Davis is a program officer in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) SportsUnited Office.

This year’s United Nations International Youth Day coincides with the start of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs SportsUnited Division’s multi-national baseball and softball visitor program. A group of 20 enthusiastic teenagers— 11 girls and 9 boys — and four coaches from Ecuador, Mexico, and Panama recently arrived for a fast-paced series of activities centered on the theme sports of baseball and softball. What better way to celebrate International Youth Day than embark on a whirlwind sports experience designed for energetic and young athletes?

Throughout the two-week program, the young athletes will engage with their American counterparts,… more »

Free Trade Agreements: Essential for U.S. Economic and National Security
A woman sews together four quarters of a Super Bowl football at the Wilson Sporting Goods football factory in Ada, Ohio, on January 24, 2011. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: William E. Craft, Jr. serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Programs in the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs.

The President submitted the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama to Congress on October 3, 2011. These agreements are essential for our economic and national security. Now more than ever, America’s ability to create jobs at home depends on our ability to export goods and services to the world. Today, exports support nearly 10 million American jobs, and they are well paying jobs. Americans whose jobs depend on trade earn 13 to 18 percent more… more »

President Obama, Secretary Clinton Issue Statements on Korea, Colombia, and Panama Trade Agreements
Shipping containers are stacked on the Hanjin Shanghai cargo ship as it passes through New York harbor on August 9, 2006. [AP File Photo]

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released statements on the submission of the Korea, Colombia, and Panama Trade Agreements to Congress on October 3, 2011. President Obama said:

“The series of trade agreements I am submitting to Congress today will make it easier for American companies to sell their products in South Korea, Colombia, and Panama and provide a major boost to our exports. These agreements will support tens of thousands of jobs across the country for workers making products stamped with three proud words: Made in America. We’ve worked hard to strengthen these agreements to get the best possible deal for American workers and businesses, and I call on Congress to pass them without delay, along with the bipartisan agreement on Trade Adjustment Assistance that will help workers whose jobs have been affected by global… more »

Panama Trade Promotion Agreement: Leveling the Playing Field
A cargo ship sails through the Panama Canal in Panama City, March 3, 2009. [AP File]

About the Author: Jose W. Fernandez serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs.

On Thursday, April 28, Panamanian President Martinelli visited the White House and met with President Obama to discuss next steps with regard to the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. This visit and the Trade Promotion Agreement build on a tradition dating back to 1906, when President Teddy Roosevelt traveled to Panama — becoming the first U.S. president to leave the country while in office.

President Roosevelt was traveling to inspect the progress of U.S. construction of “the path between the seas” that would become the Panama Canal. The United States operated the Panama Canal for over 90 years, establishing close and enduring people-to-people contacts. In 1999, Panama became the owner and operator of the Canal, but our strong ties and shared history continue to bind us — the United States remains the Canal’s largest beneficiary. Approximately two-thirds of the… more »