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Condoleezza Rice With Americas Leaders Chile

Remarks With Colombian For. Min. Barco, El Salvadoran For. Min. Lainez, Paraguayan For. Min. Rachid, Canadian For. Min. Pettigrew, Chilean President Lagos, Chilean Min. of Government Insulza, and Chilean For. Min. Walker

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Santiago, Chile
April 29, 2005

FOREIGN MINISTER BARCO: (In Spanish) As you are aware, beginning in the city of Washington, DC, on the 11th of April this year, the Government of Mexico began a series of demarches and consultations, the objective of which was to maintain the integrity of the Organization of American States members, as well as the unity of our hemisphere. And in discussions with those countries which had given Mexico its support for the position of Secretary General of the OAS, the Government of Mexico decided to withdrawal its candidacy in order to maintain the unity of the hemisphere.

And I am very pleased in this place and on this day to both congratulate and publicly recognize the generosity and the spirit demonstrated by President Fox and Foreign Secretary Derbez to maintain the strength of our organization. And we are convinced that through this decision of unity, Minister Insulza will be elected the coming Monday, May the 2nd. Thank you very much and a good day to you all.

(Applause.)

MINISTER INSULZA: (In Spanish.) On the occasion of the third ministerial conference of the Community of Democracies in Chile and on the eve of the election of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States next Monday in Washington, DC, I would like to address certain fundamental issues for the strengthening, protection and promotion of democracy in the hemisphere.

The Americas have progressed substantively during the last decades in the democratic elections of their governments. As I have indicated before, the Permanent Council of the OAS of the governments that today are participants in the organization, almost all of them have democratically elected authorities and we expect the process of transition in Haiti today and the situation produced in Ecuador will be quickly resolved in the same way.

Second, it is indispensable to indicate that I attach enormous value to the fact that democratically elected authorities will exercise their mandate in a democratic manner as well, thus guaranteeing full respect for the fundamental rights of their citizens, the rule of law, public freedoms, respect for minorities and the institutions of the democratic system, thus assuring governability. The basis of this statement is contained in the first article of the Inter-American Democratic Charter which indicates that, and I quote, "The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have the obligation to promote and defend it," adding that, "Democracy is essential for the social, political and economic development of the peoples of the Americas."

(in English) Therefore -- and I will say it in English --

INTERPRETER: And therefore governments --

MINISTER INSULZA: (in English) I'll just leave that because I think I should say it. Therefore, the elected governments that do not govern democratically should be held accountable by the OAS.

(In Spanish.) Third, it is fundamental that this definition of the Inter-American democratic Charter be fully applied in the coming years. The OAS has mechanisms like the Commission on Human Rights and a statute of participation of civil society in its activities and it should permit taking into account the voices that arise from its citizens in a timely way.

The Permanent Council of the OAS should also play a fundamental role in this sense for which it could establish in its body a permanent commission concerned with assuring that the benefits of democracy come to all the citizens of the Americas. It is necessary for the Permanent Council to have a more active role, as much to anticipate crises that might arise in different countries as well as to help fortify the democratic institutions contained in them.

For that purpose, the Council, with the support of the Office of the Secretary General, should promote a permanent review of the conditions in which democratic processes unfold in all the countries of the Americas, being open to receiving the concerns of civil society. This process should involve all member countries, as much those that participate today as well as Cuba, where all of us wish to promote major progress in issues having to do with democracy and human rights within the context of the Charter.

Fifth, the strengthening of democracy in the Americas requires in particular the continuation of our common efforts through the missions of the OAS in favor of building democracy in Haiti and support for the pacification in Colombia. This is a task to which all the nations of the hemisphere must contribute.

Six, these challenges also require facing the most burning problems having to do with insecurity and to extend the effectiveness of inter-American mechanisms for transparency in the acquisition of arms and the regulation of the traffic of small and light weapons in the region has special importance.

Seventh, to reach these goals it is indispensable that the OAS reflects completely the unity of the hemisphere, integrating North and South, the continent and the Caribbean, as well as their needs and interests. This must be reflected in a broad, solid and consistent team made up of the Secretary General which can take charge of facing such challenges. In this way, we will be able to build a strong and efficient entity that can completely fulfill the objectives proposed today.

In closing, I want to extend my special thanks to all the countries who have supported me in this effort to achieve a consensus in order to strengthen our organization. I want to assure you here today that I will devote all of my efforts to make sure that all the countries in our organization feel that they are represented and that they are relevant in the issues of democracy, security and development, which are the pillars of our organization. I wholeheartedly want to thank all those countries who lent me their support in the first round of voting. I want to assure them that I will be working to further their need and their interests in the future. And finally, my very special thanks go to the Government of Mexico, to the President of Mexico and, in particular, to Foreign Secretary Derbez for his efforts in promoting the unity of our hemisphere. His selfless support has brought us all here today. And I want to greet especially all the people of Mexico, whom I care for very deeply because, as you well know, Mexico is also my second home.

Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

2005/T6-18

ENDS


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