Media Center

Press Release


  September 23, 2003

In his first address to the Organization of American States (OAS), the newly appointed U.S. Permanent Representative, Ambassador John F. Maisto, today outlined the challenges faced in the region and pledged his country’s support to work with the OAS in overcoming them.
The OAS “has never been more relevant in addressing key hemispheric concerns than it is today,” Maisto told the Permanent Council. “Yet,” he added, “the OAS has just begun to realize its potential in meeting its mandates, and there are new challenges, which will require new political will of the member states.”

Maisto underscored the importance of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and singled out Cuba as the sole exception to democracy in the hemisphere. He said that “one day the Democratic Charter will serve as a blueprint for a new, democratic Cuba, where human rights and fundamental freedoms are guaranteed.”

Ambassador Maisto stressed the importance of strengthening democracy in the OAS member states and continuing to work toward a Free Trade Area of the Americas. Citing poverty, inefficiency and corruption as among the region’s problems, he said that “leadership and political will on the part of each and every government” are required to surmount these challenges. “The OAS provides significant value-added and can play an important catalytic role in these efforts,” he said.

A veteran diplomat, Ambassador Maisto presented credentials to OAS Secretary General César Gaviria on September 11. Most recently he served as Special Assistant to President Bush and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Secretary Council.

Reference: E-179/03