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Secretary General Insulza Confirms OAS Commitment to Dialogue at Inauguration of Workers Forum in Cartagena

  April 12, 2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today said the organization is “absolutely committed to dialogue, convinced of its central importance to democracy,” at the opening of the Workers Forum within the framework of the Sixth Summit of the Americas, which will bring together the leaders of the hemisphere this weekend in Cartagena, Colombia.

“The previous summit was the first one to hold a Workers Forum. This forum today and the dialogue you will hold tomorrow with the governments will allow further progress down the path that you have been able to make good use of, not only to call attention to the issues that concern you, but also to put forward your proposals to deal with the most important challenges in the region,” said Secretary General Insulza, referring to Friday’s meeting between workers’ representatives and the delegation heads at the Sixth Summit.

Secretary General Insulza affirmed that the past decade saw some successes in poverty alleviation, mainly due to economic growth sustained over several years. He warned, however, that this process taught two important lessons. The first is that growth cycles should be taken advantage of to benefit the weakest sectors of society, and the second is that if economic growth isn’t used to directly fight poverty, these cycles can become ephemeral.

With respect to the processes of economic growth in the region in recent years, Insulza warned of the need to correct unequal growth, and pointed out that this carries the risk of deepening existing inequalities. “Inequality and the growing phenomenon of criminality are the two main threats to democracy,” said the chief representative of the OAS.

The Secretary General also emphasized that “despite some important steps forward, we still have a great social debt in the region. In December of 2011 the ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) reported that poverty and indigence had reached their lowest levels in 20 years, at 31.4% and 12.4% respectively. For its part, the International Labour Organization (ILO) announced a regional unemployment rate of 6.8%, a lower rate than we had faced before the economic crisis.”

Insulza added that “the OAS is absolutely committed to the promotion of dialogue, convinced of its central importance to democracy. That’s why we’re so determined to see that room for dialogue is for you in the General Assemblies of the OAS and the Summits of the Americas.”

In closing, Insulza called on the workers to continue in their struggle to achieve their demands and added that to strengthen unionism is to strengthen democracy.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-124/12