Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


December 27, 2018 - Washington, DC

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Esteemed Members of his Delegation

Chair of the Permanent Council, Carlos Alberto Játiva

Assistant Secretary General Nestor Mendez

Members of the Permanent Council

• It is a distinct honor and privilege for me to welcome the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the other members of his delegation on this his first visit in this capacity. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to be with us today here in your house, the House of the Americas.

• Prime Minister Holness is a symbol of change. He campaigned on a platform that promised change and ever since he was elected, he has shown his commitment to effect change, particularly in the area of governance.
• His energy and commitment to accelerating economic growth in Jamaica are yielding positive results, as shown by Jamaica’s recent economic performance figures.

• We are witnessing a revisiting of the ideal of government for the people and by the people, which promises to lay firm foundations for more sustainable, lasting and meaningful development in small nations, such as Jamaica and the other nations of the Caribbean.

• Prime Minister: Your story is one of the perseverance of a true leader, both as Chair of CARICOM, whose members play an active role in the affairs of the OAS, as well as in the world arena. You are a strong advocate for a more balanced participation of all countries in the multilateral system of governance.

• You did so at the G7 meeting in Canada last June and I am sure you will do so at the G20 in Argentina in a few days, on behalf of the Caribbean region, especially with regard to the impact of climate change and the need for greater resiliency.

• This is consistent with the democratic ideals of the OAS, especially the Inter-American Democratic Charter, in which democracy is not solely about the regularity of free, clean and fair elections but also the exercise of democratic governance.

• Though classified as a small state by most international standards, Jamaica has often “punched above its weight,” with a proactive foreign policy. And no place is this more pronounced than at the OAS.

• Your representatives have been a constant and eloquent voice in the deliberations at the Councils of the Organization, its commissions and agencies. Nationals of Jamaica have served in the Inter-American Human Rights System, including the current IACHR President, and the Inter-American Juridical Committee. Over the years, Jamaica has also hosted a number of Inter-American Ministerial meetings and other high-level events.
At the General Assembly in Cancun your Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that:

“to promote the ideals and work of the Organization is a challenging one [and] requires our collective and sustained commitment to the principles of the OAS Charter and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, to which we have all subscribed. I wish to underscore Jamaica’s commitment thereto”.

• More recently, at the General Assembly here in Washington, she reiterated Jamaica’s “concerns about the adherence to democratic principles” in Venezuela and brought attention to critical humanitarian needs.

• This commitment to freedom and solidarity, for example with Venezuela has deep historical roots. As far back as 1815, Jamaica gave asylum to the Liberator Simón Bolívar.

• Translating words into deeds, your country has consistently supported numerous requests for meetings of the Permanent Council to address democracy and human rights situations.

• Your personal defense of democracy has also been steadfast. You said earlier this year in unequivocal terms that “Jamaica supports human rights, Jamaica supports peace in this region, and Jamaica wants to see the people of Venezuela being able to enjoy their democracy.”

• We at the OAS look on with great interest and with true promise of doing all that we can to assist your government, Prime Minister. For success in Jamaica will redound to the benefit of the rest of the Caribbean and can provide a model for all the member states of the OAS.

• Welcome, again, to the House of the Americas, Prime Minister.