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April 14, 1998

The Organization of American States (OAS) today marked Pan American Day with the clear message being one of optimism, just ahead of the Second Summit of the Americas to be held in Santiago, Chile April 18 and 19.

At a protocolary meeting of the organization's Permanent Council this morning, the speakers agreed that the OAS will be receiving clear mandates from the leaders of the 34 OAS member states, to more efficiently help in creating the configuration of the Americas as the new millennium draws near.

Opening the session, the Council's vice chairman, Ambassador Albert Ramdin of Suriname, said Pan American Day represented the ideals of pan-Americanism that is aimed at placing the principles of justice, cooperation, peace, security and freedom above the particular interests of the states.

OAS Secretary General CÚsar Gaviria stated in his remarks that the Summit of the Americas would present the Organization of American States with a tremendous challenge. "I am certain that integration in the Americas will see continuity and that over the next few years new institutions will become part of the inter-American system and even part of the OAS itself," said Mr. Gaviria.

The secretary general, referring to the great challenges the OAS will face over the next few years, referred to the tremendous responsibility the OAS will have in serving as a vehicle for the integration process, adding that the Caracas General Assembly session will be a point of departure for renewal of the Organization to reform it and bringing it in step with the times.

Peru's ambassador, Beatriz Ramacciotti, making mention of the Summits process initiated in Miami, sapointed to the multilateral perspective brought to each and every major issue on the inter-American agenda that calls for joint strategies and international cooperation. The Peruvian diplomat opined that "through the multilateral forum that a renewed OAS would provide, there would be efficient policy coordination throughout the inter-American system, distribution of responsibilities and joint action to attain national and hemisphere-wide objectives."

Meanwhile, the ambassador of El Salvador, Mauricio Granillo, said he believed that the Summit of the Americas will reaffirm specific mandates that the leaders will give the OAS. "We (more) E-047/98ie look forward to that, to having a presence on the agenda and among the priorities that the leaders will set out for the hemisphere," the Salvadorian diplomat said.

United States President Bill Clinton issued a declaration recognizing today, April 14, as Pan American Day. It as read by Mr. Thomas Ochiltree, alternate representative on the US delegation to the OAS.

In the declaration, the president praised the OAS for taking a crucial role in promoting and preserving democracy and human rights around the hemisphere. President Clinton also made specific reference to the Santiago Summit of the Americas, expressing his hope that agreements to strengthen hemispheric cooperation on a vast range of areas would be arrived at. Among those issues education, economic integration, democracy, justice and human rights as well the war on drug trafficking and poverty were identified.

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