Media Center

Press Release


  April 14, 2003

In marking Pan American Day, today, the Organization of American States hailed hemispheric solidarity and cooperation as a vital force that underlies development for the nations of the Americas.

“Pan Americanism promotes solidarity, mutual assistance and understanding,” asserted the OAS Permanent Council’s Chairman, Guyana’s Ambassador to the OAS Odeen Ishmael, leading off a protocolary session to commemorate the hemispheric occasion. “It is for all of us—members of the OAS family—to work together in the spirit of Pan Americanism to find long-lasting solutions to give that hope to the growing army of the poor in our hemisphere.”

The Chairman of the Council went on to urge urged the member states to continue in the hallmark OAS tradition of working together “in solidarity and friendship” to meet common objectives such as alleviating poverty, which he said has become even more serious in many member countries over the past decade.

For his part, Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi pointed to some recent examples of OAS undertakings including in Venezuela, in Central America and to the Organization's ongoing efforts in Haiti—all of which have had to be supported through voluntary contributions. He considered it unfortunate that as currently constituted, the Organization's Regular Fund cannot fully accommodate these delicate democracy and peace activities, attention to which often comes at the expense of the support required for the Permanent Council and the political bodies. Pan Americanism requires better institutionalization, he argued.

In his remarks on behalf of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) countries, Chile’s Ambassador Esteban Tomic singled out for special mention his confidence in the hemispheric Organization as an effective vehicle for dialogue and cooperation among the 34 active member states. “Today, for the first time in their history, all the OAS countries have democracy as a shared political system.” He said although it has also tested certain countries, “democracy remains our guiding principle.”

Jamaica’s Ambassador Seymour Mullings delivered the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries’ presentation. Assessing the strides in promoting and consolidating democracy, human rights, environmental issues and drug abuse control, among other pressing concerns, he said those achievements “confirm that the Organization indeed has cause to celebrate.” But he also cautioned against complacency, and pointed to conflicts within and among states as well as security issues of particular concern to the small island states of the OAS as challenges requiring priority attention.

U.S. Permanent Representative Ambassador Roger Noriega emphasized President George W. Bush’s commitment to the shared vision of a “partnership of strong and equal and prosperous countries, living and trading in freedom.”

Noriega stressed that the Hemisphere can be proud “that we have taken steps that will help make lives better for the people we serve.” Citing just the last two years, he pointed to developments such as the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, a revitalized the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, and the OAS’ “activist role” in promoting democratic development in Venezuela and Haiti,” as well as initiatives in such key areas as human rights, scholarships, conflict resolution, democracy-building and agricultural development.

He read a proclamation issued by President George W. Bush, who renewed the Administration’s commitment to working with the Americas to defend democratic values and help tackle some of the most pressing problems.

Speaking on behalf of the Central American Group, Costa Rica’s Ambassador Walter Niehaus highlighted Central America’s stress on multilateralism, including specific agreements with Caribbean countries for joint patrols to combat drug trafficking in the Caribbean Sea. He noted the renewed confidence in the OAS, citing Guatemala’s recent request for the OAS Secretary General to appoint a representative to a commission of inquiry looking into the operation of underground armed groups in that country.

Reference: E-086/03