Media Center



November 18, 2013 - Washington, DC

Mr. Secretary, it is a pleasure and an honor to welcome you today in our House of the Americas.

In this building leaders and diplomats from our hemisphere have worked together, for over one hundred years, to uphold the ideals of pan Americanism, in a changing global and regional environment, in times of progress and in times of crises.

This is certainly the best place to discuss the common challenges our region faces today and in the near future.

We are happy to offer it to you, together with our friends from the Inter-American Dialogue, to hear your views and proposals on the best ways to move forward in the accomplishment of our shared values.

Much has changed in Latin America and the Caribbean in the recent decade and most of these changes have been positive.
The region enjoyed --for the first time in its history-- a combination of high growth, macroeconomic stability, poverty reduction and improvement in income distribution.

Since 2003, Latin American $6 trillion economy has substantially increased its share of world economic output to 8 percent.

Over 70 million people escaped poverty during the last 10 years. According to United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), poverty in the region fell significantly from 43.9% in 2002 to 28.8% in 2012. Several countries recorded substantial declines in poverty and indigence and, for the first time, the number of people in poverty in Latin America is now equal to the size of the middle class.

Two decades of democratic transition have also led to the strengthening of our democracies. We have more democratically elected governments than in any time in our independent history

The unanimous adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter in 2001 represented a significant milestone on the path toward democratic consolidation in our Hemisphere.

Latin America and the Caribbean are also in search of a balanced participation in world affairs, eager to associate with many regions of the world to influence the shape of international relations.

But beyond that valid purpose, there is no doubt that the US continues to be our very close partner and that our peoples are eager to share the historic ties of friendship and common purpose that have united us. Today more Latinos and Caribbean brothers and sisters than ever before are part of your country and its future. Not only history, but also present reality moves us closer together.

We have a strong hemispheric agenda, based on common interests and predicated on common values. Indeed, it would be impossible to have a sensible conversation about some of the Hemisphere’s most crucial issues –democracy, human rights, migration, energy, trade, climate change, citizen security, drugs, to name but a few— without the United States actively engaged at the table. On these issues, a conversation that excludes the voice of the United States would be an impoverished and futile exercise.”

But dealing with this agenda also means to recognize that the world and our hemisphere have changed.

This was clearly stated by President Obama, a few weeks after his first inauguration, in our Summit of the Americas of Port of Spain, and I quote him:

"I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values. So I'm here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration."

Mr. Secretary, we fully support this view. This is your home. I am happy to offer you the floor.

Thank you.