President's Activities on March 9
After the ceremony, the President will be briefed on the on-going reconstruction efforts undertaken by the U.S. military in Central America at Enrique Soto Cano Air Force Base. The base initially served as the hub for all Central America response activities and continued at a heightened pace of activity through early February, but returned to pre-hurricane levels in the middle of last month.
After the briefing, the President will visit a nearby U.S. military hangar where he will deliver remarks to U.S. troops stationed there and local Hondurans. In the speech, the President will salute the men and women in uniform that have contributed to Central America’s reconstruction.
After his speech, the President will travel to the site of the Juan Ramon Molina Bridge reconstruction project to observe a two-lane, panel bridge that was installed by U.S. Marines from January 28 to February 5. Located in the center of Tegucigalpa, this 73-meter, reinforced steel, Bailey-type bridge spans the Choluteca river. Fifty Marines formed the bridge company that installed the bridge which opened on February 16, restoring a critical commuter link between Tegucigalpa and its twin city, Comayaguela. At the time of its opening, the bridge was the longest panel bridge in Central America. It has since been eclipsed by the 74.5 meter span at Ilama (also in Honduras), which was bought and installed by the United States. The U.S. Marine bridge company remains in Honduras and is currently installing another bridge at Rio Perla.
The President will then host a roundtable discussion on reconstruction with community leaders, civil society advocates and local government officials in Tegucigalpa. Tegucigalpa is a hilly city, located in a mountain-ringed valley at over 3000 feet elevation. The city dates back to 1578, when silver was discovered in hills near the banks of the Choluteca River on September 29, St. Michael’s Day. The reconstruction roundtable will take place at the Central Bank of Honduras. The Central Bank is located in a nine-story building in the center of old Tegucigalpa, close to the site of the first silver discoveries which gave prominence to the city. It is directly across the street from the Old Presidential Palace, a Moorish-Italian castle first occupied by President Rafael Lopez Gutierrez in 1910, and the “Puente Mallol”, the oldest bridge in the city (which was damaged but not destroyed during Mitch.)
After the roundtable
discussion, the President will return to El Salvador for the evening.
March 8, 1999
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