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OAS Secretary General Calls on Latin America to “Take Advantage of the Opportunities” of the Future

  March 13, 2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, discussed the prospects for the future of Latin America this Tuesday in a presentation to students at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, calling on the region to “take advantage of the major opportunities offered by the global economy.”

Secretary General Insulza said that, in the current regional context, there is a general mood of “optimism,” and that it is generally accepted that, “in spite of criticism, democracy continues to be clearly the best option in most of the countries.” “The primary reason for this new optimism is economic,” said the Secretary General, who supported his argument by recalling that, “During this decade, we have seen poverty rates drop to levels not experienced since before the 1980s.”

During the recent global economic downturn, added the OAS leader, “the causes of the crisis came from outside and internal public policies played a positive role in mitigating it.” He added that “In addition to the fact that this is partially responsible for the reigning optimism, it shows that, with all the weaknesses of our governments, their action is not only indispensable, but it can also be effective in dealing with approaching challenges.” “This time,” emphasized Insulza, “the government may be part of the solution, but this depends on the continuation of important steps forward in the democratization” of the region.

Among the challenges facing the democracies in the Americas, Secretary General Insulza highlighted the achievement of stable and sustainable economic growth; addressing the inequality and poverty in the region; reducing crime and insecurity; strengthening democratic institutions; moving beyond the “democratic fallacy” that the majority has the right to change the system as it sees fit; and eliminating attempts to control the judiciary and the media.

In his conclusion, Secretary General Insulza said that, “although democracy has achieved major gains in the region, based on many constructive elements, the elements of its destruction exist alongside this strengthened democracy. The interaction between the two on the political front will determine whether, this time, our region takes advantage of the major opportunities offered by the global economy or it remains, as so many times in the past, at the “threshold,” a prisoner of its own phantoms.”

Before the event, Secretary General Insulza met with the Director of the Center for Latin American Studies of Georgetown University, Eric Langer, and a group of Latin American student leaders. The conversation focused on the current political context in the hemisphere, the role of the OAS in the region, and the economic environment in the Americas, among other issues. Following his presentation, the OAS leader took part in a question and answer session with the students.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-roll of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-089/13