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Bentley Welcomes United Nations Ambassador

April 7, 2004

WALTHAM, Mass.- The Executive Dining Room won't ever be confused with the United Nations General Assembly, but UN Ambassador to El Salvador Victor M. Lagos felt very comfortable in his first visit to the Bentley campus.

"It's nice to see so many friends and Salvadorians here," as he glanced out at the audience of students, faculty and staff. Lagos delivered a talk entitled "Trade, Investment and Foreign Policy in El Salvador," which detailed the enormous strides his home country has made in the past 20 years in its rise from third-world country status.

"We're still a developing country, but we're no longer a less-developed nation," said Lagos. "Our development has brought us a long way, and I am very proud."

The event was sponsored by the Office of International Services and the Cronin International Center, in cooperation with International Student Association and Model United Nations. Bentley sophomore Carlos-Gabriel Valle, a native of El Salvador, helped arrange the visit.

Lagos has been the permanent representative of El Salvador to the UN since September 2002. Prior to his current posting, Ambassador Lagos served as permanent representative of his country to the international organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, and Vienna, Austria. As such, he represented El Salvador at several multilateral forums such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to name a few.

In the area of trade, Lagos cited the significance of CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) leading to El Salvador's growth. Along with Chile, El Salvador is the most open economy in Latin America. With the help of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), half of El Salvador's trade now comes to the U.S.

"We have eliminated most of our trade barriers, and we've been aggressive in free trade negotiations," said Lagos. "This will give us access to many markets."

Social and economic inequities in the 1970s were a force for political upheaval. A UN brokered peace accord was signed in 1992, and a decade of transformation has successfully brought peace to El Salvador.

"We're now a model country for conflict resolution, which puts us apart from others," added Lagos. "Within those agreements were the basic print for reforms in politics, the economy and society in general."

Today in El Salvador, the extreme poverty rate is down from 33 to 15 percent, and illiteracy has dropped from 31 to 17 percent. Along with modernization of ports, advancements in technology, and a large investment in its citizens through education and healthcare, El Salvador is on the right track.

"If we continue like this for the next 20 years, we'll be on the doorstep of the first world," said Lagos.

In his home country, Ambassador Lagos served as Deputy Foreign Minister from 1994 to 1997, and was also the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador.

"Bentley students, faculty and staff came out in significant numbers to welcome Ambassador Lagos," said Professor and Chair of International Studies Denis Sullivan, who introduced him. "I am grateful that he contributed [and will continue to contribute] the time and effort to Bentley."

Bentley's Model UN group is headed to New York next week to visit the UN, where Ambassador Lagos will be their tour guide.

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit www.bentley.edu

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