Media Center



April 14, 1996 - Washington, DC

Another celebration of the Day of the Americas must be cause for pride and satisfaction for the nations in the hemisphere and a good opportunity to reflect on the commitment of the Organization of American States to our peoples.

151 years ago there was held in this city the first Inter-American Conference, which laid the foundations for what later became the Pan American Union, the precursor of the Organization of American States, which came into existence with the signing of the Charter in Santafé de Bogotá 48 years ago.

Since then this forum of the Americas has responded effectively to the challenge of preserving and strengthening democracy, and has been able to adapt itself to the transformations that have taken place in the hemisphere by carrying out reforms and adopting fresh purposes, always in the spirit of offering the men and women of the Americas a land of liberty and an environment in which they could better pursue their rightful aspirations.

The last General Assembly of the OAS, held in Haiti in 1995, adopted the Declaration of Montrouis, in which it endorsed the proposal for "A New Vision of the OAS," and resolutions for mechanisms and guidelines that set a new course for the Organization to strengthen its capability for response to the aspirations of the member countries.

These guidelines, joined to those generated by the Miami Summit of Presidents, and by the General Assemblies of Mexico City, Santiago, Managua and Belem do Pará, will enable us to attain without fail the goals set for themselves by the Governments of the hemisphere, in the aspiration to structure a strong, renewed and modern inter-American system, attuned to the our present social, political and cultural circumstances.

In short, we have before us the responsibility of realizing that aspiration. And we are doing this by carrying out the Organization's new agenda of work, moving forward in the strengthening of democracy and its institutions; economic integration and free trade; the war on poverty and marginality; protection of the environment; the war on corruption, terrorism, the drug traffic, and organized crime; and continuing the restructuring of the OAS in response to its new priorities.

We may take comfort from our celebration of the Day of the Americas. It represents many years of arduous effort to give reality to the dreams of Bolivar, Juarez and San Martin, which must be the best incentive to give effect to the will of the Governments of the Americas to continue seeking new possibilities for collective action so as to make the OAS an effective instrument with which the community of nations in the hemisphere may build a morrow of democracy, peace and prosperity.