Media Center

Press Release


  June 22, 2005

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, met today with members of the U.S. House International Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere to exchange views on a range of issues affecting the countries of the region.

After the 90-minute meeting, the Chairman of the Subcommittee, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana), told reporters that he and his colleagues wanted to ask questions and “get as much information as possible so that we can be a help to the OAS and the new Secretary General in dealing with the problems in Central and South America and the Caribbean.”

Insulza, who took office on May 26, noted that although the OAS is based in Washington, such meetings with members of the United States Congress have been rare. “The first agreement we have reached is that we will meet more often,” Insulza said.

Among other issues, Insulza briefed the members of Congress on his mission last week to Nicaragua and talked about the need to address poverty and inequality in many countries. Asked by reporters about the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), Insulza noted that having free-trade agreements with the United States has proved beneficial for other countries in the hemisphere as well as for the United States.

“The biggest problem in our region today is poverty, and that is by necessity linked to economic growth and the creation of jobs in the countries,” the Secretary General said.

Burton stressed the importance that U.S. policy become more focused on the region. “One of the things that I think all of my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, agree is that there needs to be dialogue and openness with the Latin American, Central American and Caribbean countries,” he said.

Ten members of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere participated in the closed-door meeting, which was hosted by Burton and the ranking minority member, Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey).

The Secretary General was accompanied by Assistant Secretary General-elect Albert Ramdin, who takes office on July 19, as well as by Ambassador Alberto Borea of Peru, the current Chair of the OAS Permanent Council, and Ambassador Roberto Alvarez of the Dominican Republic, who will assume the three-month rotating chairmanship of the Council in July.

Reference: E-125/05