Media Center



May 2, 2005 - Washington, DC



I am profoundly grateful for the honor of being elected Secretary General of

the Organization of American States.

I would like to express my gratitude to all member States who have shared

my program proposals from the very beginning and to those who added their support to

achive the decisive result that is a reflection of what the region and the OAS need.

I would also like to thank you for your efforts, as President of the Assembly.

To my Bolivian brothers, I want to assure you that as Secretary General I will

never do anything, objectively or subjectively, to harm your interests. I hope that the

problems that have divided Chile and Bolivia, two close countries with a common destiny,

can be resolved through dialogue for their mutual benefit.

I am grateful to President Ricardo Lagos for his trust in nominating me as Chile’s candidate

for this high office. I must also thank all of my country’s political actors for supporting my

nomination and for trusting in my abilities to undertake the responsibilities and obligations

of our common hemispheric task.

I would like to reaffirm my gratitude to the President of Mexico, and especially to the

Foreign Minister, Luis Ernesto Derbez, for their decisive action towards hemispheric

unity. The noble people of Mexico, with whom I share profound bonds, have once

again demonstrated their deep commitment to the region.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Assistant

Secretary General, Ambassador and my friend, Luigi Einaudi and the staff of the General

Secretariat, for their work for the Organization, especially during this critical period.

Three months ago, when I had the opportunity to share my ideas with the

Permanent Council, I pledged that my principal concern was to strengthen this

Organization’s political relevance and its capacity for action.

I said that an effective OAS must be a space for dialogue and for mobilizing

the interests of the member States and the societies that they represent. It is imperative

to have a clear and coherent view based on the principles that we share:

the consolidation of a culture of democracy and the strengthening of governance; the

promotion and protection of human, civil and political, economic, social and cultural

rights; integral development and multidimensional security.

Today, I want to renew my commitment to the strengthening of the OAS and its

mission of hemispheric integration. I hope that this guiding spirit will lead the member

States as well as the Secretariat to realistically approach the region’s current

situation, its needs, and the demands of its citizens.

I understand that the Organization is at a critical juncture and that, without

the active support of all its members, it is difficult to think of revitalization, of

beginning a new era, and of prioritizing and focusing our work. This

also implies that we must realistically face the chronic budgetary deficit that plagues our


We must be able to forge the consensus that allows us to overcome the mistaken

perception of irrelevance that cripples our hemispheric efforts. I am convinced that, in a

global world, the OAS has a key role to play in the establishment of the rules that

will lead to more just and mature ways of integration, in order to reflect our rich and

diverse regional perspective.

In our Inter-American System, we can count on a significant wealth of resources to

strengthen governance and promote social development with full respect for human


I am convinced that, to undertake the challenges of the 21st century, it is

crucial that we renew our collective commitment to the principles and values of

the Charter of this Organization.

This is my appeal to you today. I call on all of you to make of this moment an

opportunity to strengthen the OAS, to reinforce its role in fostering democratic

values and as a guarantor of the diverse hemispheric interests.

The people of the Americas have the right to democracy and the governments have

a duty to generate conditions for governance and also to carry out their

mandate in a democratic fashion. The guarantee of respect for the fundamental rights of the

citizens, the Rule of Law, civil liberties, the respect for minorities and the institutions of the

democratic system are crucial. Only then can the social, political, economic and cultural

development that our nations deserve be effectively promoted.

It is imperative that the commitments adopted under the Inter-American

Democratic Charter be wholly fulfilled. The OAS must have the leadership that anables

the Organization to anticipate the multiple dimensions and causes of the crises that arise;

likewise, to be able to act when they are already set in motion and to participate in

the institutional rehabilitation and democratic recovery processes. If we do not

approach this issue substantively, the risk of instability will remain, and the structural

weaknesses that make us vulnerable to populism, authoritarianism and citizen apathy

will continue.

If we hope for a relevant OAS, the organization that brings us together, we

must privilege its central mission.

I will place my work and experience at the service of the member States. The OAS must

take into consideration the interests of all its members and pay special attention to the

priorities of the smallest ones.

We can contribute, through dialogue and cooperation, to building a future

that is more democratic, with more growth, social integration, freedom and cultural


This is a political task, and I am convinced that the OAS has the conditions, the capacity

and the support to face it successfully.

I ask all of the member States to give this Organization a place in the dreams and hopes

of all the peoples of the Americas.

Thank you.