Media Center



April 13, 2005 - Washington, D.C.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Permanent Council for the support it has given me as Acting Secretary General since October 16, and I am particularly proud of four accomplishments that we have managed together during this interinato.

The first is, I think, that we can agree that we have kept the Secretariat going at full speed. The support for the Summit process and preparations for Mar del Plata, the work of CICAD, the strengthening of the Mission in Colombia, the working out of relationships with the United Nations in Haiti and getting electoral support in Haiti underway, and the support for democratic institutionality in Nicaragua and Bolivia, these all suggest that quite in addition to the matters already referred to by the Chair, this organization has continued to function.

The second point I wanted to make is that we have in effect completed, I think, probably for more than the time being, the organizational restructuring that was asked of us. We have ensured the primacy of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), increased support for the Inspector General, provided bureaucratic space for support for democracy and multidimensional security, and improved coordination of the General Secretariat through the Cabinet.

We have also a third achievement that is perhaps less visible to the political bodies but is very important to what the Secretariat tries to do. We have put out executive orders covering agreements with donors as a particularly important process, given the importance of special funds to make up for failings in the Regular Fund. I just signed yesterday an order on workplace harassment, and we have in train, probably for issue this week, a whistleblower protection order designed to ensure the best environment for transparency and the avoidance of difficulties as the new leadership in the Department of Administration and Finance works to strengthen procedures there.

And finally, with notable help from you and from the Chair of the Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs (CAAP), we have taken on, head on, the financial problems of the Organization with a 2006 budget and tried to raise consciousness, among both the member states and the public, of the need to modernize the quota system.

Now, my point in going through all this is to get to this bottom line that has to do with Pan American Day. Why? What is our purpose in trying to do all this? Where are we going? Why should member states increase the resources they give to us? It is notorious that every single member state of this Organization has enormous tasks before it, domestically and internationally. Why should they contribute more resources to this organization?

Now, I suspect that all of us, certainly it is true for me, hesitated to think too much about this. Not only is it difficult, but we felt, certainly from my standpoint here in the Secretariat, that this was something that should be reserved for the province of the new Secretary General. After Monday’s extraordinary experience, I feel that Pan American Day forces an attempt to articulate an answer, no matter how tentatively.

Now, those of you who know me know that I have some very strong personal convictions about this. In August, it will actually be 50 years that I have worked on U.S. relations with Latin America and Latin America’s relations with the United States, and in that time I have consistently been guided by the vision of Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre: panamericanismo democratico sin imperio. Víctor Raúl was a Peruvian, but he was really an American in the deepest and best sense, and he believed in the unity of the Americas even as he appreciated their diversity.

In 1993, when after four years as U.S. Permanent Representative to this Organization I left my post, I said that the central lesson I had learned as a member of the Permanent Council had been that democracy is as important among countries as it is within countries.

In Buenos Aires last month during preparations for the Summit of the Americas to be held in Mar del Plata, which I think is really going to be a seminal event for the Hemisphere, I allowed myself to recall an initiative, a decision, that had been made by a prior Summit in Santiago in 1998. That was the decision by the Heads of Government and State to ask you, then, the Council, the OAS, to negotiate a Mechanism for Multilateral Evaluation of national drug strategies, the MEM.

Now interestingly, yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of signing with the Interim Representative of the Dominican Republic an agreement that will enable the CICAD to hold its meeting at the end of the month in the Dominican Republic, where the third round of the MEM will be completed, where individual reports and a regional report will be completed, and I believe that that is the most successful and practical of all of the Summit initiatives. The Summits have enormous meaning for us in giving us a sense of common motion and inspiration, but we look for them to achieve, to give us the guidance to achieve specific things.

So recalling that, and I will ask your indulgence, I will simply cite to you, briefly, what I said in Buenos Aires:

En mi calidad de servidor de los países americanos, propongo que, en 2005, se pida la creación de un MEM para la democracia.

No hemos utilizado el Capitulo IV de la Carta Democrática Interamericana –con la única y tardía excepción del golpe de estado contra el Gobierno de Venezuela. De los demás problemas, de las dificultades para progresar y, a la vez, mantener la separación de poderes, nada.

Es que los gobiernos no quieren dar espacio internacional a oposiciones internas. Es que nadie quiere sentirse sentado en el banquillo de los acusados.

Pero es también así que la OEA –el único engranaje político regional que tienen los gobiernos de América– va perdiendo credibilidad y capacidad para movilizar recursos. Y una ruptura antidemocrática, no importa donde sea, nos afecta y debilita a todos.

Un MEM para la democracia nos ayudaría a todos. Necesitamos cooperar para fortalecer la democracia y fortalecer la institucionalidad democrática. Lo importante es que no haya elementos sancionatorios ni impositivos. Lo importante es que este nuevo MEM se organice de una manera que nos esclarezca las opciones y las posibilidades de cooperación.

Lo bello de nuestra América es que no hay un modelo único, y que todos creemos que es posible, e incluso imperativo, forjar sistemas democráticos.

Un MEM para la democracia, un verdadero mecanismo multilateral de evaluación y aplicación de principios democráticos, para fortalecerlos en sus aspectos prácticos, nos ayudaría a todos.

So much for what I said, then; let me finish. The preamble of the OAS Charter reads, and we all know it: “The historic mission of America is to offer to man a land of liberty and a favorable environment for the development of his personality and the realization of his just aspirations.” That is really the glory of the Americas: our ability to articulate this fundamental human and democratic dream. But we have an Achilles heel. It is our failure to deal with the problems of social injustice and exclusion. And we really do have a shame: our failure to develop the instruments of regional solidarity for democracy in practical ways that put our principles into practice.
So that is how I would put our objective and why this organization deserves the support: to strengthen democratic institutionality though multilateral cooperation.
Panamericanismo democrático sin imperio.
Muchas gracias, thank you, Mr. Chairman.