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Press Release


  March 28, 2006

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said that although development goals sometimes get bogged down in analysis, it is evident that nowadays there are more policies underway designed to overcome poverty and inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the Forum on Social Cohesion, hosted by the European Commission in preparation for the Vienna Summit, Insulza reviewed the sociopolitical and economic outlook in the Americas. First, he noted the existence of anti-poverty programs which have gone well beyond the study and definition stages. He also talked about the region’s experience in the 1990s, adding that it can be deduced that the “trickle-down” theory did not meet expectations and that therefore there must be greater involvement both by the state and the marketplace to satisfy people’s needs.

Even though one of the more positive factors in recent decades has been democratic consolidation in the hemisphere, Insulza pointed out the contradiction that arises when citizens ask themselves whether democracy has improved their lives. Such doubts, he said, “obligate us to be extremely careful with the hopes that society places in a system that sometimes disappoints.”

Insulza explained that people do not place a high enough value on the results of democracy, in part because of an inadequate distribution of economic growth, a problem that must be corrected.

The Secretary General outlined three essential tasks – to maintain or increase growth; reach significant progress in social cohesion and strengthen governance – and tied these challenges to the need for international cooperation. He referred to the European Union’s objectives for cooperation with Latin America, expressed by Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who identified governance, social cohesion and regional integration as key problems to confront in the Latin America/Caribbean area.

“The coincidences in the identification of points of interest are evident,” Insulza said, “but we must also talk about other issues: trade relations, migration, organized crime, corruption.”

Insulza said he was optimistic about progress that may be reached related to cooperation between the European Union toward Latin America and the Caribbean, noting that 16 years ago trade issues were not even on the agenda between the two regions. “At the start of the 90s, in the EU, there weren’t any mechanisms to deal with trade issues with Latin America. We have made a lot of progress and that makes me optimistic,” he concluded.

Reference: E-072/06