The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today sent its "heartfelt condolences to the people and government of the United States" for the killings last week in a school in the state of Connecticut, and in particular to the families of the victims.
"We sadly regret that such atrocities continue against the lives and safety of citizens in our countries. The regret is even greater when the victims were innocent children, in a place designed to make these children feel safe and secure," said the Chair of the Permanent Council, and Permanent Representative of Mexico, Joel Hernández, on behalf of the body.
Ambassador Hernandez called on Member States to reflect on "possible measures to confront with determination the growing phenomenon of armed violence that affects our hemisphere." All the Permanent Representatives who took the floor during the meeting expressed their support for the United States, and in particular to the families involved, during this painful time.
The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, joined the Council in its condolences and reiterated his sorrow at the tragedy expressed on Friday. "Days go by and as more photographs of the dead children emerge on the eve of Christmas, my outrage and my anger grow ever greater. I think we should all insist on what President Barack Obama said: This can not continue. How can 20 children die for nothing? We must all make a great effort, and it is an issue that we should take up in a more general manner at some moment in this organization, to see how we can all help to make sure this does not happen again. "
In the same regular meeting, the Council agreed that the Fourth Meeting of the Technical Group on Transnational Organized Crime will be held on March 11, 2013 at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, as the Chair of the Commission on Hemispheric Security and Permanent Representative of Guyana to the OAS, Bayney Karran, proposed in his report. On this point, the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, called on the Permanent Missions to strengthen their support to the Technical Group, recalling that combating transnational organized crime was one of the central issues at the Summit of the Americas this year.
The leader of the OAS emphasized that many of the great problems of crime in the hemisphere "are not merely carried out by separate groups or individual actors but they reveal the existence and growing consolidation of organized groups originally identified a lot with the drug phenomenon, but who have already clearly gone beyond that area. Today, organized crime is also involved in human trafficking, piracy, arms trafficking and money laundering."
Concluding the meeting, which will be the last regular meeting of the year, the Permanent Representative of Mexico concluded his term as Chair of the Permanent Council. According to the regulations of the OAS, the Chair will occupied by the Permanent Mission of Nicaragua beginning January 1.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
The video of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.