Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


August 25, 2023 - Washington, DC

Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, Greetings to my distinguished Colleagues;

Prime Minister, It is a great privilege and honor to welcome you once again to this House of the Americas.

You are a very referential leader in this Hemisphere,Prime Minister, your publications, have been an educational tool for people in Latin America and the Caribbean in ways to confront and overcome the difficult issues of making politics, economics and society work, in an integrated society, and also underline the importance of a strong labor movement and radio news.

Also your passionate advocacy for a more perfect union in CARICOM has been admirable and inspiring, particularly as it points the way for CARICOM to secure a seat at the table of international decision-making.

With this in mind, Prime Minister, congratulations on assuming the Presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and for being the first CARICOM leader to be elected unanimously to this position. The countries of CELAC are certainly profiting from being guided by your sage political and hemispheric experience over the next several months.

Also, a happy belated birthday on another milestone year which is celebrated on August 8th.

Prime Minister, I concur with your sentiments on making purposeful efforts towards regional integration and promoting dialogue to sustain democratic institutions and healthy democracies in the region.

Sir, you have taken a principled stand on ideological differences. You have advocated for the right for different ideological positions to co-exist not in conflict and confrontation but in tolerance and cooperation, seeking the best of all ideologies to fashion positions best suited to the region. In this regard, you have not only been a voice of reason, you have also been a teacher.

I want to highlight your elaboration study about ideology, the ideological elaboration is essential just as much as the ideological study is essential. We have to responsibly apply ideas to the reality of our societies without losing rationality and without losing pragmatism because the reason has to meet the logic of our needs in order to create a utopia that guides us through our practical dimension of the things we need to solve.

I also acknowledge your efforts in support of a dialogue with certain countries where there have been evidentiary issues in the Hemisphere.

The OAS supports all initiatives that are aimed at maintaining good neighborliness and promoting peace for the benefit of all the peoples of the Americas.

Prime Minister, while political critics may criticize your unrelenting support to overcome centuries of gender inequality, I must applaud your efforts to achieve the full and equal representation and participation of women and girls in the decision-making process in your country.

As an example your Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Keisal Peters, as well our dear friend and the most efficient ambassador Lou-Anne Gilchrist, as well her predecessor La Celia Prince.

Prime Minister, all these Caribbean women do your country a great honor in the Councils of the OAS.

Our Organization is continuously working to address regional concerns, specifically those held within the Caribbean Community, such as the situation in Haiti, the climate crisis, natural disaster preparedness, efforts towards reparatory justice, appeals to the International Financial Institutions for access to concessional financing, combatting drug trafficking and other security concerns that create challenges for our dear sisters and brothers in the Caribbean Community.

I have highlighted, time and again, the importance of having more fair financial institutions in the world, not pitting Caribbean countries against Latin American countries as enemies when they must support their development.
CARICOM provides balance and reasoning on matters that affect all the peoples of the Americas.

I endorse your statements on Haiti, we must be balanced in any negotiations with the actors in Haiti.

Dr. Gonsalves, you are principled in your determination and advocacy pertaining to several issues, including the issue of reparatory justice, which you raised at the European Union (EU)-CELAC Summit held last month, acknowledging that it is time to have a “mature conversation” on the subject.

As pro-tempore President of CELAC you were able to appeal to the countries to include the item on the joint Declaration with the European Union stating that the countries “acknowledge and profoundly regret the untold suffering inflicted on millions of men, women and children as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

I congratulate you on that accomplishment.

Despite the claims issued by detractors, who characterize reparatory justice as “a distraction” , we, at the OAS, will support efforts towards reparatory justice, which include appeals for debt relief and debt support to former colonies in the Americas, and for the development of academic, health and cultural initiatives for our peoples in the Americas from former colonial powers.

As you asserted to the OAS Permanent Council on your last visit to the Organization on November 6, 2015, “the quest for reparations is not conceived as a strategic confrontation against these European nations, although it is for us in the Caribbean a defining issue in the 21st century for justice, reconciliation, and the righting of historic wrongs.”

Indeed, Prime Minister, this is an important pathway to dismantle the remnants of a dark history, and instead breed understanding and reconciliation.

Prime Minister, I thank you and your Government for your continuous support and contributions to the OAS, including your most recent donation of a painting by Calvert Jones to the Art Museum of the Americas, which expands our Caribbean collection.

On this and many more matters, may you continue to make a difference by courageously walking on the road less travelled.

Thank you.