Organization of American States ..............................News Release


January 21, 1998

The nations of the Americas are moving toward being a true "community of democratic societies," drawn together by common values and interests, the new U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Victor Marrero, told the Permanent Council today.

"By small but progressive steps we are integrating into a partnership linked not just by geographic proximity, political pragmatism and mercantile opportunity, but by certain shared democratic principles and universal values," he said, in his first address to the Council since presenting credentials on January 12.

Ambassador Marrero mentioned several factors that have drawn the nations of the hemisphere closer in recent years, including expanded trade ties and a focus on shared problems. "More than ever we now pool our energies and resources in combating illegal drugs, corruption, environmental degradation and extreme poverty," he said. The nations of the region are also working together to exchange experiences and improve standards in such areas as health, education, labor, finance energy and security, he said.

Within the United States, the growth in the segment of the population of Latin American and Caribbean origin is helping to strengthen ties with neighbors to the south, according to the diplomat. "Rather than east to west or west to east, in the years to come more and more of my country's foreign relations will be conducted along a longitudinal axis, north and south, moving to a two-way partnership based on the recognition of the greater mutual benefits derived from cooperation and integration within our region," he said.

Ambassador Marrero applauded reforms undertaken in recent years at the OAS, but said the Organization must continue to re-examine its priorities and become more efficient, especially as it anticipates new mandates from the upcoming Summit of the Americas. Presidents and heads of state from around the region will meet in Santiago, Chile, in April.

Ambassador Marrero comes to the OAS from the United Nations, where he served for the past four years as the U.S. representative on the Economic and Social Council.

The OAS has 34 active members representing North, Central and South America and the Caribbean region.

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