MIAMI (CBSMiami)—Twenty years ago Former President Bill Clinton hosted the first ever summit of the Americas in Miami. On Thursday, he did it again.
The Clinton Foundation held the all-day event called the “Future of the Americas” at the University of Miami meant to improve the hemisphere.
“We have opportunities we didn’t have 20 years ago. We have challenges we didn’t imagine 20 years ago,” said Clinton.
The summit brought together leaders throughout the hemisphere including business, philanthropic, government, nonprofit, and university leaders.
Many of those leaders come from Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States.
Clinton’s former cabinet member and University of Miami President Dona Shalala hosted the event.
“By working together we will have a lasting impact that reaches far beyond this room and even this hemisphere,” said Shalala.
The event is meant to encourage collaboration on issues that affect the lives of people across the hemisphere like strengthening the economy, health and education.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos put global warming on a list of urgent issues.
“Well you all know, the problem of climate change, the big challenge that we have to get an agreement that is binding in order to save the planet,” said the President Santos.
Can a day of conversation and brain storming significantly shape the future and save the world?
“Save the world perhaps not. Improve the world. I think so,” said Former Clinton Aide James Carville.” I think if you get really great minds like we have here today and think of things they can really improve people’s lives.”
And so the former president called the deep thinkers together to tackle tough challenges facing the Americas.
“We need to be as specific as we can on education on healthcare, on economic policy on energy policy,” said Clinton.
Most important, Clinton said is for people in nations to heal divisions for everyone’s sake.
“We should be looking forward to the next 20 years and to ask ourselves honestly what each of us can and should do to shape them in a more positive direction,” said Clinton.
In the midst of the summit, Clinton touched briefly on US-Cuba relations, telling CBS4’s news partner the Miami Herald, he believes the embargo could be lifted if Cuba released USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, who’s serving out a 15 year sentence on the island.
Following the daylong meeting, Clinton and his wife Hillary were the guests of honor at a fundraiser at the Star Island home of Gloria and Emilio Estefan.
“President Clinton, when he left office in 2001, still thought he hadn’t done enough, and thought as a private citizen he would like to do what he can,” Gloria Estefan said of the former Commander in Chief.
Emilio Estefan added, “Doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat, you bring everybody together.”
Hillary Clinton thanked the hosts, saying “They have lent their talents and voices in so many ways to try to bring people together. To do exactly as you quote Bill saying 20 years ago. So we’re grateful to you for all that you have done for so many.”
Bill Clinton will be back in South Florida at the University of Miami in March for a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.
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