Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


June 4, 2019 - Washington, DC

Dear Friends,

It is an honor to receive this award, which I accept on behalf of the millions of people who are today victims of hate and repression in the Americas.

The fight for democracy and human rights is not an easy one. But it is the only way forward , especially in global and regional contexts in which voices that oppose the values of democracy and human rights have surged at an incredible speed.

Attacks against democracy are on the rise In the Western Hemisphere, those who attack democracy and human dignity have found fertile ground to operate in Cuba and Venezuela. And because evil breeds evil and evil attracts evil, Latin American dictators in the 21st century have partnered with and acted alongside terrorists and anti-Semitic actors and organizations.

Iran and Hezbollah -a terrorist organization-, have a solid base of operations in South America in alliance with the illegitimate Maduro Regime. This would have never have happened if there had been strong democratic institutions in place, a strong democratic culture, a solid rule of law, and fearless defenders of democracy in our region.

The international community must ensure that Venezuela finds its path to peace and democracy again. The cost of not doing so would be too high. If we fail in Venezuela, it would represent a victory for terrorism, organized transnational crime, and antisemitism. A victory for impunity in the Western Hemisphere.

For the OAS, that would be immoral and unacceptable.

Effectively fighting antisemitism here and around the world means fighting for democracy, for human rights, for stronger institutions and a culture of respect, respect and acceptance.

The international community has a responsibility to counter antisemitism and xenophobia. There is absolutely NO excuse for inaction or denial.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), after its Plenary in 2016, adopted the definition of antisemitism, which as of now, as Secretary General, I make it the official definition of anti-Semitism for the work of the Organization of American States General Secretary. As it says “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

To combat this hatred, we must work closely together. The American Jewish Committee has a long-standing presence in the Americas, and close ties with local Jewish communities in Latin America. You are an essential partner of the OAS, and you can count on our multilateral political platform to fight hatred, to educate, to increase awareness, and to help member states adopt measures and cooperate to fight antisemitism and terrorism.

We must weaken hatred in its rhetorical state, and more so when it is translated into action. And our region is far from immune to the effects of terrorism, having witnessed the worst terrorist act in the history of Argentina and the largest number of Jewish deaths from anti-Semitic terrorism outside Israel since WWII.

The OAS will work every day to achieve a Hemisphere free of anti-Semitism, free of terrorism, free of dictatorships.

We can achieve this. Acceptance, respect, and peaceful coexistence are possible. But we must do more, from the micro-local level to the multilateral level. We must do more to educate our people to have zero tolerance toward antisemitism.

In all these efforts, the OAS stands with the AJC.

Thank you, and thank you again for this honor.