Media Center

Press Release


  July 19, 2007

The former President of Chile, Ricardo Lagos, today outlined the main challenges facing the region highlighting the integration of the Americas, the strengthening of institutions in the hemisphere and the benefits that public policies should offer citizens, among the most important ones. He was speaking on “Latin America’s Future Challenges” during the Organization of American States (OAS) 21st conference in the Lecture Series of the Americas.

In raising these challenges to the representatives of the 34 member States, Lagos referred to the economic, social and political situation of the region, emphasizing that “we have a solid democracy.” Nevertheless, he noted that the economic growth experienced in recent years is not enough to create the necessary conditions to resolutely advance in social aspects.

“A democracy that is not efficient, a democracy that is not able to make social progress a reality, in the long run is a democracy that can end in a vacuum,” said Lagos, adding that it is essential that governments have the capacity to provide goods and public services to their citizens.

In this regard, he noted that in Latin American societies there should be a sound debate in order to define the model of State that will reign in the twenty-first century, explaining that public development policies will only be able to be carried out if there are sufficient resources to implement them, underscoring that this leads to a necessary discussion on issues pertaining to fiscal collection.

Lagos recalled that integration efforts have historically been guided by economic goals; however he explained that in a globalized world a political integration is necessary to be able to negotiate better “or to organize ourselves in our own houses.” He said that in his opinion the countries of the Caribbean are the region’s most integrated, using the example of the recently established Caribbean Supreme Court.

“We should be able to speak with one voice, but speaking with one voice is not easy,” reiterated Lagos. Adding that the countries of the hemisphere should continue studying how “to be able to have a Latin American identity that would allow us to have, in a world that is quickly becoming more global, an expression of what we are. Of our roots, our belongings, our values and our identities, and in this regard I believe that this Organization of American States is perhaps a good starting point,” he concluded.

The former leader, who headed the Chilean Government from 2000-2006, was welcomed by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and the Chair of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Deborah-Mae Lovell of Antigua and Barbuda. Insulza, who served as Minister of Interior under the Lagos administration, underscored the extensive career of the former president noting that “he is a figure that throughout his term in office, even before and after it, widely transcends the border of just one country of Latin America.”
The Director of the OAS Department of External Relations, Irene Klinger, moderated the question and answer debate that followed Lagos’ keynote speech.

Created by the OAS Permanent Council to promote principles and values in the countries of the hemisphere, the Lecture Series of the Americas invites internationally renowned speakers to address key issues such as democracy, human rights, social development, hemispheric security and the fight against poverty. The conferences are possible thanks to financial contributions from Peru’s San Martin Porres University, the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of France.

Reference: E-177/07