Discursos Secretario General Adjunto


17 de julio de 2015 - Washington, DC

Honorable Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize
Distinguished Ambassadors /Permanent and Alternate Representatives;
Ambassadors / Permanent Observers and Alternate Observers;
Secretary General Luis Almagro;
General Secretariat staff;
Friends and family
Ladies and gentlemen;

Thank you very much for being here today to share in such an important occasion for my country, Belize, my family, and especially for myself.

Over the past 4 months since my election as Assistant Secretary General, I have had the opportunity to engage
Member States and to listen to their views on what they expect of me as the second in command of this Organization. Until last week, sitting as a Permanent Representative in this Permanent Council, I have had the benefit of hearing firsthand, the views of Member States regarding what they expect of this new OAS administration of which I am now a part. And I have been taking note.

En su discurso Inicial el Secretario General Almagro indico que el tema que caracterizara el trabajo de esta Administración para los próximos cinco años será “Más derechos para más personas.” Yo deseo aprovechar esta ocasión para reiterarle al Señor Secretario General, Dr. Luis Almagro, mi más firme compromiso de trabajar muy de cerca con el formando el fuerte equipo que los Estado miembros nos instruyeron a formar cuando fuimos electos. También deseo agradecer al Secretario General su compromiso público de liderar esta organización trabajando conmigo como su co-secretario general, su co-piloto, para llevar a esta institución en la dirección que los Estado miembros han apuntado a través de la visión estratégica.

Este hemisferio alberga una séptima parte de la población mundial, y la Organización de los Estados Americanos, como la Organización más antigua y ante todo el más alto cuerpo político de dialogo entre los países del hemisferio, tiene la capacidad y la responsabilidad de buscar respuestas y soluciones a los problemas que aquejan a esta población.

Distinguished representatives: You as Member States have expressed your will and have given to this Administration, two initial yet evolving blue prints for the conduct of our work: the first is the Strategic Vision, which sets out the goals and objectives for the Organization’s scope of work. The second, the Strategic Plan for Management Modernization is supposed to be an operational guideline on how we can reasonably accomplish that scope of work while making the Organization more effective and productive. At this very crucial time when the mettle of the OAS is being tested and there are calls from several quarters for its reinvigoration and adaptability to respond to the 21st century needs of its Member States, our stewardship of this Organization will be judged by how faithfully and skillfully we are able to execute and implement the mandates contained in these blueprints. Of course, our ability to deliver and to realize these mandates will be largely predicated upon the financial resources we are able to access to fulfill those obligations and the consistent political support of the member States.

I assume this office at a time when the economic prospects for this region are not as promising as they were a few years ago. The grim outlook is likely to get grimmer yet for this region, considering the knock-on effects from the growing instability of the Euro-zone and the trade that will be diverted from this region to those countries which are party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). But we must find ways to overcome our challenges and create the enabling environment for economic and social prosperity by identifying new areas of cooperation, creative financing mechanisms and maximizing the catalytic potential of the OAS. Fostering a much closer working relationship with multilateral financial institutions such as the IDB and the World Bank would be a key step in this direction.

Many member States, especially the smaller States of the Caribbean, are hungrily seeking foreign direct investment and the development of much needed infrastructure and connectivity. Most also face challenges with competitiveness, with capacity building, with sustainable development as a whole. All member States have masses of people who must be educated to make them productive according to 21st century exigencies and therefore we will work on creating public private partnerships in order to create synergies and to articulate viable development projects to be implemented through cooperation mechanisms. These partnerships also have the potential to help address pressing challenges such as energy insecurity, the threat of climate change, security and human rights concerns linked to increased movements of economic migrants, and all the other attendant ailments that characterize lack of economic and social development. None among the Membership of this Organization will be insulated from the impact of these regional challenges—whether directly or indirectly-- and the central axis on which the OAS is built demands that we address them. And we must do so proactively. We must start to work closer with other regions which already have programs focused on climate change and disaster relief, such as the European Union, in order to find ways to help them coordinate existing projects. The OAS Charter and its foundational pillars, that is to say, democracy, integral development, human rights and security; the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the Social Charter of the Americas are the proverbial scriptures by which our Administration will be led in addressing these issues.

It is against this backdrop that I come to you today, privileged to be entrusted by you, the Member States, the high responsibility of Assistant Secretary General at a time when our hemisphere is on the cusp of history as it pertains to Cuba and this Organization. In April of this year, the Summit of the Americas which was held in Panama, was the first complete Summit of the hemisphere, with the participation of Cuba. Three days from now, on Monday 20th July, we will see the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States of America after more than 50 years of broken ties.

Atravesamos momentos históricos en nuestro hemisferio, vemos con esperanza el hecho que un día Cuba regrese a este Organización y reconocemos los esfuerzos del Secretario General Almagro en la búsqueda de mecanismos prácticos que permitan acercamientos con Cuba. Puede que nunca halla unanimidad ideológica en esta OEA, Sin embargo, lo importante no es la uniformidad de pensamiento sino la búsqueda de entendimientos y la construcción de objetivos comunes a través de la discusión respetuosa sobre los diferentes temas con el claro propósito de construir sobre nuestros puntos de convergencia y no de nuestras divergencias. El futuro de la OEA será determinado por nuestra capacidad de lograr cooperación entre los Estados miembros dentro de un marco de respeto y solidaridad a pesar de las diferencias que puedan existir entre la diversidad de pensamientos.

As a candidate running for election to this post, I shared with this Council my vision for the OAS to make itself more dynamic by fully embracing Partnership for Development as a means to enhance cross-disciplinary interventions of the many issues which fall within our mandate. I also highlighted a more visible external role for the OAS through more active engagement of other institutions of the Inter-American system, multilateral financial institutions, private sector groups as well traditional and non-traditional partners.

Essential in this external engagement also, are the Permanent Observers to this Organization, who are twice in number as the Member States and who represent a more diverse region of the world than this Membership. Many of the Observers do not have diplomatic Missions or representation in most of the Member States and the OAS provides them an unparalleled platform with which to connect with OAS Member States. The Permanent Council is the natural nexus for the engagement of Member States with Permanent Observers, and as Secretary of the Permanent Council, I intend to provide that space for dialogue and interaction on a regular basis, rather than just once a year at the Regular Session of the General Assembly.

With that said, I would now like to expound more on those thematic areas that I intend to focus on during my tenure as Assistant Secretary General. I wish to underscore that these are fully consistent with and complement the vision and priorities articulated by the Secretary General during his inaugural address. The first is regional inter-connectivity. I believe that connectivity within our region, particularly the Caribbean region, is of paramount importance. I intend to focus efforts on finding strategic partners and use existing regional frameworks to promote connectivity in information and communications technology (ICT), energy, and various modes of transportation. We know of many multilateral agencies, private sector companies and prominent non-profit institutions that are actively engaged in these activities, and I propose to utilize the convening power of the OAS to cluster these scattered opportunities into workable, practical initiatives that promote connectivity. Second, I believe that for economic growth to occur private sector involvement, along with Government’s enabling role, is crucial as it is the stimulus for job creation, technological advancement, infrastructural development, creativity and innovation. For most Member States, it is the Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises that form the backbone of their economies; that provide the economic space for entrepreneurship to flourish, youth to think creatively and independently, and women to become empowered and even become providers for their households. As such, I commit to exploring ways to assist those countries that so require, to initiate practical measures aimed to foster greater private sector investment in key areas of their economies so as to boost commercial and economic activity to the extent possible.

Third, as you know, our region has succumbed to the deleterious impacts of climate change and natural disasters. Each year we see an increased intensity and frequency of natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding; and seasonal droughts which impact farming activities, infrastructure, and many times displace people in rural communities. Other impacts of climate change include the coral bleaching of some our region’s most pristine reef systems and the coastal erosion of beaches and sea sides, which in turn threatens the tourism brand and therefore the livelihoods of several of our Member States. His Holiness the Pope, who just concluded a tour of South America has been a prominent voice calling for the proper stewardship of our planet through “swift and unified global action” against environmental degradation and global warming. We know that there are other organizations that tackle issues of climate change and natural disasters, but I firmly believe that the OAS should also play a role in this pressing issue of our time and lend our collective voice to it. Climate change affects us every day; it is our reality. Hence, I pledge to continue the work that the previous Administration has done to increase awareness of these issues. Particularly in light of the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which is due to take place in Paris in December of this year—a Conference in which our Member States earnestly seek an agreement--, I intend to find ways for the OAS to monitor that process and for the long-term, to develop concrete proposals that will bring together the relevant stakeholders to address our needs and vulnerabilities in these areas.

Fourth, as part of my intention to embrace partnership for development, I will endeavor to work more closely with the Joint Summit Working Group in order to fulfill the pledges that have been made in the Summits process. This is a grouping of 12 Inter-American and international institutions that together amass the expertise, infrastructure, and financing to help to implement projects and programs. I intend to utilize this mechanism more effectively.

Fifth, the youth: They comprise, for many of us, the majority of our populations and they will be a main focus during my term in office. My goal is to find ways to help our youth to become more engaged in the social, cultural and economic spheres of our societies through meaningful employment, exposure to governmental affairs and civic duties, and focusing on entrepreneurship and development of the person as a whole. One concrete proposal to help bring awareness to issues affecting the youth is the creation of “Goodwill Ambassadors” who would be dedicated to raising the profile of youth in our hemisphere. Many of you are aware of the good will ambassadors of the United Nations who, through their celebrity status, have increased awareness for a plethora of issues affecting our world. This is an innovative way to shed light on an important topic like the youth and it is my intent to bring such a model to the OAS. This same model can also be applied to several social issues that require heightened attention.

Another innovative youth focused initiative that we are working on for launching is the STARS initiative. STARS is the acronym for “strategic alliance for research and studies”, and its objective is to identify high potential young people in marginalized communities and poor households and to mentor and fully finance their studies in high demand, high skill areas after they have completed high school. The initiative will be funded through partnerships with private sector companies as part of corporate social responsibility.

Sixth: the Staff of the General Secretariat. In a previous presentation I had made after my election to this office, I reiterated how much I valued your dedication and hard work and understood that your needs must come first. You are the backbone of this organization, the lifeline, the beating heart. Without your earnest abilities and efforts, we would have no organization to call the OAS. For that, I commit to you working with you as partners, and to pay close attention to your needs as a staff. I know that you need to feel valued, that you need to be listened to, that everyone should feel respected. As such, I plan to participate in the town hall meetings with the Staff Association to dialogue on the issues of importance to you organized by the office of the Secretary General. I also intend to work closely with the newly created office of the Ombudsperson to ensure that that office reflects the high expectations that accompany its establishment.

Finally, my office is already working on the preparation of a grand strategy for the OAS National Offices to strengthen these offices by increasing their visibility in the region and outfitting them with the necessary tools to carry out their work. These offices are the diplomatic embassies of this Organization in the various Member States, and therefore perform a critical role in promoting the OAS brand outside of Washington, D.C. Theirs is a broad remit to interact with the governments in the host countries, other inter-governmental organizations and entities; the private sector; and non-state actors and civil society alike, thereby making them indispensable to advancing the Organization’s mandates of promoting democracy and human rights and advancing development and security.

My dear friends: I do not want to conclude before expressing once more my profound gratitude for the support given to me that enabled my election to this important office. A special thanks to the Prime Minister of Belize, the Honorable Dean Barrow, to Foreign Minister Elrington, and the entire Government of Belize for their invaluable support.

When I stood before you as a candidate, I indicated my intention to co-manage this organization with transparency, equity and with unambiguous policies. Today, in thanking all of you for the confidence which you have reposed in me by the strong election mandate which I was given, as an elected official and the co-pilot of the Secretary General, I pledge to remain true to those promises. It is my hope to build a strong working relationship with each and every Member State in order to ensure that this OAS is attendant to the needs of all.

Estimados colegas, amigos y amigas, Yo estoy aquí para servir a los Estados miembros y a los pueblos de las Américas. Unamos nuestros esfuerzos para hacerlo bien, y de la forma que nuestra gente se merece. Thank you very much, muchas gracias.