Organization of American States



The Americas'  Response to Terrorism

January 29, 2002  


            Out of tragedy springs hope, declared Steven Monblatt, Chairman of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE), as he wrapped up deliberations of the anti-terrorism group's second regular session at the Organization of American States today.  The two-day meeting had brought together high-level delegations from the member states. 

 Monblatt said the meeting was an important step by free peoples of the Americas to respond to the tragedy of last September 11.  He said it showed that those who mistake tolerance for weakness—and who see destruction as the only solution—will find no shelter among us. 

In his remarks, OAS Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Luigi Einaudi, lauded the political will the member states signaled by sending high-level delegations to the meeting.  He said too that the draft inter-American Convention against Terrorism is likely to be ready for presentation to the next OAS General Assembly session, slated for Barbados in early June. 

“It makes clear that the basic juridical framework within which cooperation against terrorism can take place—the rules of the game—are going to be advanced, and that CICTE will be in a strong position to advance its coordinating efforts." 

Einaudi stressed that more cooperation, coordination and information-exchange will be needed in order to implement various recommendations the delegates approved, adding that CICTE should provide member states and all citizens of this Hemisphere greater security and prosperity. 

            The CICTE meeting also noted the report by Mexico's Ambassador Miguel Ruiz-Cabañas, the Chairman of the Working Group asked to prepare a draft inter-American Convention against Terrorism.  He reiterated Einaudi's observation that if the cooperation demonstrated by all the delegations continues, the work could be concluded in time for a draft convention to be ready for submission to the upcoming General Assembly session in Barbados.

During the deliberations, Ambassador Lisa Shoman of Belize argued that in combating terrorism, the particularly tight financial, economic and social situation of the smaller, more vulnerable countries should not be overlooked.  She said the OAS should do everything it can to ensure that the smaller countries do not fall victim to these economic measures, because terrorists would thus have achieved objectives beyond anyone's imagination. 

            Addressing the plenary session, Nicaraguan Interior Minister Arturo Harding Lacayo detailed the recent measures his government had implemented to combat terrorism and drug trafficking.  He said the government remained resolutely determined that the country would never harbor terrorists, nor be a haven for money that covers up activities that threaten world peace and  stability. 

            Peru's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros, recalled that "the sad and dramatic result of violence stemming from terrorism in Peru had left more than 25,000 Peruvians dead and more than $20 million in economic damage to the country."  On his government's behalf, Rodriguez Cuadros offered  the city of Lima as a possible venue "to host a meeting of the Permanent Council, for the OAS to approve the Convention." 

            The head of Chile's delegation, Gustavo Villalobos, who is Director Public Security and Information, explained that his government's decision to tackle international terrorism by cooperating with other states "is based on our sense that we are fighting a common, hostile enemy of the principles of human coexistence, in order to ensure peace, development and international security." He stressed that only ongoing action to combat and prevent terrorism through international cooperation "can bring about peace and tranquility for our peoples."