Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


January 17, 2020 - Washington, DC

Mr. Secretary, we are grateful for your leadership in the Americas, for the importance you have given to Inter-American affairs, you have shown a genuine interest in our Hemisphere.

Mr. Secretary of State, welcome again to the OAS, to this remarkable Hall of the Americas. We are practically neighbors we work a few blocks away from each other. You are welcome anytime, this is your house, and we are honored to have you here today.

The Western Hemisphere has only until recently reversed a trend that dictated the way inter-American affairs were conducted - from one dominated by misunderstanding and ideological rifts to one led by principles that have generated an improved level of mutual understanding.

The struggle we face today is between democracy and despotism. Between those who defend and protect democracy and human rights, such as the United States, those who simply care about these principles, and take political positions beneficial against dictators and authoritarians. This the decisive factor shaping the current geopolitical map in Inter-American affairs.

The United States has always been present in Western Hemisphere politics and diplomacy functioning as a pillar for regional stability and peace. Yet in the last three years, the United States has increased its role substantially in the region, becoming a central player in its democratic and human rights agenda.

Latin America and the Caribbean is no longer out of sight for the United States, it is one of its priorities as its involvement in the fight to democratize Venezuela and end the longest-surviving dictatorship in the Hemisphere, Cuba, demonstrates.

Maduro did not come to power out of nowhere or by sheer coincidence. His violent and inhumane Regime became what it turned out to be, thanks in part to the silence and complacency of many.

I am proud to say that today inter-American affairs are conducted considerably differently than in the recent past – we have a common vision and mutual understanding for action on the foundational principles of the OAS of democracy and human rights.

We have worked more for development than anyone before. As the premier political hemispheric forum, and after 130 years of existence, we are certainly walking the talk today.

The United States is an essential and loyal partner for us in furthering this common vision and agenda of principles of freedom and human dignity in the Western Hemisphere. Like us, the United States understands the importance of achieving a Hemisphere free of dictatorships, once and for all; of achieving a Hemisphere in which we work for more rights, not fewer rights, for more and more people.

The dictatorships polarize the continent.

The path we have ahead is not simple, it will take time, courage, and firm commitment to our work.

Those enemies of democracy have endured as long as they have endured, precisely by instilling fear to its people at home and abroad, but by also intimidating the international community to the point of transforming them into silent accomplice actors.

The OAS and the US are denouncing the evidence of gross human rights abuses, the crimes against humanity, and the modern-day slavery practices of the “medical missions”.

The United States, like the General Secretariat of the OAS, makes visible the crimes and human rights abuses of any regime in the treatment of political prisoners and torture.

We should eradicate violence from the continent, we should eradicate torture, extrajudicial executions.

We should know the facts and not succumb to false narratives and revolutionary rhetoric that belongs to the last century. A dictator is a dictator, and leaders like you Mr. Secretary of State, have always called out things by their name and have not turned away from injustices.

Defending democracy and human rights at home means defending democracy and human rights abroad.

The sanctions that have been enacted against corrupt and criminal officials and against individuals with explicit ties to drug trafficking and terrorism, have been key to exert pressure on the dictatorship.

This is a good time for the OAS. An OAS that has regained its purpose and is fulfilling its mission thanks to the commitment of Member States such as the United States, who are loyal to the non-negotiable cause of democracy and human rights in the Western Hemisphere.

In this new era of the OAS, in which the trend is the majority united in favor of principles, democracy, and human rights, the United States is a vital partner. I am convinced that together we are implementing Inter American Law. We are setting the example for future generations that the OAS is a world pioneer of a multilateralism institution that delivers, that focuses on the problems of the people, and that strives to be part of the solution and never part of the problem.

Principles first, this is the path of our partnership going forward.

Thank you.