Organization of American States



December 12, 2001




            Today, delegations from the 34 member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) began reviewing ways in which they could cooperate to deal with the social and economic impact of the terrorist acts of September 11 and, in particular, the damage done to the more vulnerable economies. 

The Sixth Regular Meeting of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) began by electing Arturo Montenegro, the Minister of the Economy of Guatemala, by acclamation, Chair of the meeting of ministers. Héctor González, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of El Salvador, was elected Vice Chair. 

            In his speech thanking participants for electing him, Mr. Montenegro said that the sheer brutality of the events of September 11 had drastically changed the world we know, although he also stated that “we will not stray from the path of democracy, justice, tolerance, and pluralism.”  

            At the opening session, César Gaviria, Secretary General of the OAS, called for “renewed emphasis on the need to adopt policies that generate more jobs and expand the coverage and quality of health care and education.”  He added that the Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted in Lima “recognizes that development and democracy go hand in hand and are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.” 

            The Secretary General also underscored the importance of the Strategic Plan for Cooperation for Development to be adopted at this current meeting and said he was convinced that CIDI’s job was none other than to become a catalyst for regional development projects in support of national strategies and the lynchpin of sectoral dialogue in the Hemisphere. 

            Gaviria extolled the efforts being made by the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD), which, throughout this year, has striven to improve the quality and increase the volume of cooperation resources in the Hemisphere, while at the same time busying itself with the quest for new funds for its fellowships and training program. 

            After reiterating that education “is the main tool with which to combat poverty, generate employment, and create more opportunities for economic growth,” the Secretary General suggested that further steps should be taken to set up a special fund for smaller or relatively less developed economies that “would allow us to tap funds in other agencies and focus on the more vulnerable economies in the Americas.”