Rice Interview by Constanza Santa Maria at UCTV
Interview by Constanza Santa Maria at UCTV
April 29, 2005
[8:00 a.m. local time]
MS. SANTA MARIA: Thank you for your time with Channel 13. I would like to start with next Monday when we have elections for the OAS. You gave your vote to Mexican Luis Ernesto Derbez. I would like to know if that decision if that vote -- is unchangeable or if there is any possibility that you could give your vote to Chilean Minister Jose Miguel Insulza as a consensus candidate?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we are very fortunate that we have excellent people who want to be the Secretary General of the Organization of American States. The United States has a close working relationship with Foreign Minister Derbez and a very good working relationship (inaudible) and I am certain (inaudible) the Organization of American States is going to be well served. We need very much now to concentrate on unity. We need to concentrate on what the Organization is going to do. We have a lot of challenges in this hemisphere -- to fragile democracies like Ecuador, or what's recently taken place in Bolivia. We have a lot to do in places that are now making -- or consolidated democracies that are trying to make the benefits of democracy good for their people and the Organization of American States, of course, has stayed focused on the fact that you still have one state that cannot even take a seat at the table and that is Cuba.
So our goal is to focus on the future of the Organization. We think there are fine candidates here. We have supported Minister Derbez. We feel very strongly that these are good candidates and the Organization is going to be well served.
MS. SANTA MARIA: So you don't rule out -- you don't discard the possibility of Jose Miguel Insulza becoming the consensus candidate?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that this is not a matter of personalities. We want to see good leadership for the OAS and it is our view that these are people who can bring good leadership. But right now, what I am doing is I am talking to my colleagues here. It is fortunate that we have this opportunity in Santiago to talk. I think we will try to work toward a resolution of the issue. But everybody is focused on the future of the Organization.
MS. SANTA MARIA: Is the support of Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, to Mr. Insulza that it was the factor of the issue that the United States didn't want to give the vote to Insulza?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have not a bilateral problem with Venezuela. Sometimes, this gets cast as the United States and Venezuela. This is an issue of what kind of hemisphere do we want to see. I think there is a consensus, a broad consensus, say in places like Chile, which has led on democratic reform and economic prosperity; in places like Brazil where I was, or El Salvador where I will go later, that we are a hemisphere that is based on democratic values; where those who are democratically elected have to govern democratically; where there should be transparency and openness and rule of law; and where there is a real commitment to non-interference across the borders of one's neighbors.
And so that is the issue and any state that lives up to those obligations of the democratic charter of the OAS will be supported -- or a friend of the United States.
MS. SANTA MARIA: Is now a friend of the United States Venezuela? Or is it a threat to the United States?
SECRETARY RICE: Venezuela and the United States have certainly had very good relations and we have (inaudible) to say but that the Venezuelan people are friends of the American people. The problem has been with some of the actions of the regime. We have been very clear about that and about our concerns there. We have been very clear in the belief that those who are elected democratically have to govern democratically. And again, this is not an issue between the United States and Venezuela. This is an issue of how people govern in the hemisphere and I think we are all concerned that the people of the hemisphere have an opportunity to live in freedom and in democracy.
MS. SANTA MARIA: Talking about Latin America, some analysts say that Latin America is not a priority for the United States. And if you look to the diplomatic movements of the United States since September the 11th, it's more focused in the Middle East, in Russia, in China and sometimes you think, well, maybe Latin America is not a priority for the United States.
SECRETARY RICE: Latin America is a very high priority. This is our neighborhood and I remember very early on in his presidency that the President Bush saying that a good foreign policy begins with (inaudible) and we have been very active in the Organization of American States, active in promoting free trade in the region, active in working on trouble spots like Haiti, together with countries like Chile and Brazil and others.
We have a positive vision together with our democratic allies for a region that will take the tremendous benefits of democracy and economic growth and see those really begin to affect people's lives. We understand that there are still a lot of people in Latin America who live on the margins of life, who are very poor, who are uneducated, who don't have access to health care.
At Monterey, the leaders came up with something that we called the "Monterey Consensus" and the idea there was that now that we have a region that is growing economically, or good economic policies -- like the economic policies here in Chile -- are leading to economic growth, the next challenge for democracy is to make certain those directives spread to the people.
So this is a high priority for us. We have good trade agreements that we have signed here in Chile. We have a very good trade agreement -- free trade agreement -- that has made a difference in Chile and in the United States. And after all, I've not been Secretary of State even three months yet and here I am in Latin America.
MS. SANTA MARIA: There are not -- no good news from Iraq this morning. There have been 11 bomb attacks and 24 deaths and 98 people wounded. And if you have to doubt the issue that definitely there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but it was the excuse to get into the war in Iraq. Is there any kind of a regret about getting in the war there or are you still justifying?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I think there is good news from Iraq. Of course, there is this horrible killing by these terrorists and thugs like Zarqawi. There is good news -- the Iraqis have a government. Imagine saying that three years ago. The Iraqis, who democratically elected these people, now have a government who will be responsible and responsive to them. That means the Iraqis now have the same possibilities to have those who govern them, responsible to them, accountable to them that the people in Chile have. Why shouldn't the people of Iraq have that same right?
MS. SANTA MARIA: That was --
SECRETARY RICE: That's the justification. That's the reason.
MS. SANTA MARIA: But that was not the reason to get into the war --
SECRETARY RICE: No, we had several reasons for taking down the horrible, brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. This was a regime that had used weapons of mass destruction against its people and its neighbors, had invaded its neighbors twice in recent history, was still in a state of war with the United States, Great Britain and the rest of the world, refused to live up to UN resolution after UN resolution after UN resolution, and who murdered, practically on a daily basis, his own people and put them in mass graves. Any country that remembers tyranny should not believe that it was right to abandon the Iraqi people to that kind of future.
And I'm very proud of the American men and women in uniform, all the coalition soldiers and most especially, of the Iraqi people who, though they face many challenges and many dangers as demonstrated this morning, now have a chance to have the same kinds of freedoms that you and I enjoy.
MS. SANTA MARIA: Secretary, you are the most powerful woman in the United States. And some people see that you are the future President of the United States. Would you be willing to be kind of the person who continues the legacy of President Bush in the presidency of the United States?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm very happy as Secretary of State and I don't have any intention, desire or plans or anything like that to run for President of the United States. I don't think it's in my future. I have never run for -- I didn't even run for high school president, so I think I'll stay in this kind of role.
MS. SANTA MARIA: But it would be interesting competition to see you next to Hillary Clinton, for example, running for the presidency.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh I'm sure there will be very good people who want to run for the presidency in 2008 and I'm not one of them.
MS. SANTA MARIA: Not possible to convince you?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh no, I don't think that would be a good plan for me. I think I'll probably go back and teach at Stanford or it's well known in the United States that I'm a very big sports fan and that what I really want to do is go and become the National Football League Commissioner in the United States.
MS. SANTA MARIA: And also play some piano.
SECRETARY RICE: And play some piano. That's right. And maybe come back to Chile with time to really visit.
MS. SANTA MARIA: To enjoy. Well, talking about Chile and my last question, I would like to know what is the importance for the United States of Chile in the concert of Latin America?
SECRETARY RICE: Chile, first of all, is a good friend and ally of the United States and our peoples have a very good relationship. Chile represents what Latin America can be. It is a country that came out of a terrible period of oppression, a terrible period of violence, a period when people were neither secure nor free. And now is one of the strongest democracies in Latin America. It is a democracy that is delivering for its people. Because of sound economic policies, the Chilean economy has grown; because it has taken advantage of free trade, like the free trade agreement with the United States and many other countries, it is exporting and is growing the job base here; and it is a place where there is great caring for the well-being of citizens. So it's a vibrant and exciting place and I think it really is a symbol of what the rest of the region can achieve if the principles of democracy and free markets and free trade and concerns for the well being people are maintained.
MS. SANTA MARIA: Could be a good ally of the United States to kind of stop (inaudible) in Venezuela?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it is a good ally of the United States in making certain that this remains a hemisphere, which has freedom and democracy at the core. That it is a good ally in working in places like Haiti, to try to give the (inaudible) people of Haiti an opportunity for freedom and democracy. Chile is a good ally and the best allies are those with whom you share common values and we most certainly do with Chile.
MS. SANTA MARIA: Okay. How do you feel to be the most powerful woman --
SECRETARY RICE: I don't even think about such things. I'm very happy in this work. I'm lucky to have landed in this job at this historically exciting time.
MS. SANTA MARIA: Thanks a lot for your time. We really appreciate and we hope that next time you can have more time to enjoy Chile and not just work.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. I look forward to that. Thank you.
Released on April 29, 2005