Media Center

Press Release


  September 27, 2006

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Patrick Manning, speaking today at the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, stressed the multifaceted security challenge facing the Americas, singling out the particularly grave effects of drug trafficking and the illegal arms trade as problems that must be tackled urgently.

“We must redouble our efforts to slay this hydra-headed monster, so that the citizens of our hemisphere could pursue more meaningful and productive lives,” Manning said, telling an OAS Permanent Council session convened in his honor that “the security of the Americas is one of the cornerstones which must be strengthened to ensure that the foundation for the collective prosperity of our hemisphere remains solid.”

The Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister was welcomed by the OAS Permanent Council Chairman, Ambassador Henry L Illes of Suriname, and by Secretary General José Miguel Insulza.

Underscoring his country’s firm commitment to playing its part in strengthening hemispheric security, the Prime Minister explained the serious implications for the region and beyond “if our countries were to ignore the multifaceted security question.” He emphasized challenges related to the movement across borders of narcotics, small arms and pervasive ideas that breed increased gang violence, transnational organized crime, the spread of HIV/AIDS and the effects of natural disasters as compelling reasons to cooperate on the collective security of the Americas.

Manning also urged OAS member governments to ensure that development efforts be focused on the welfare and productivity of the hemisphere’s citizens, with particular attention to the most vulnerable. He told the member state ambassadors, OAS officials and observer country representatives gathered at the Permanent Council meeting that “to ensure the optimum conditions for our societies to flourish, we must approach the development process in a comprehensive manner.”

The Prime Minister praised the OAS role as a unique forum for member nations to cooperate closely on democracy, human rights, hemispheric security, sustainable development, education, health, gender issues and local government, among other priority issues. He also thanked member states for supporting his country’s candidacy for the newly established position of Director General of the Inter-American Defense Board.

Explaining elements of his own government’s priorities, Manning noted that education “is the only way that our populations will acquire and maintain the required competitiveness and be imbued with those democratic and ethical values which promote good governance and secure a peaceful way of life.” He also touched on the preparations for Trinidad and Tobago to host the next Summit of the Americas in 2009, saying his country would work closely with all the member states, regional institutions, civil society organizations and other partners and stakeholders to ensure implementation of the Summit decisions.

In welcoming the Trinidad and Tobago leader, Secretary General Insulza lauded moves by the Prime Minister to lead his country to attain developed-nation status by the year 2020. He highlighted the country’s economic, social and government reforms, its leadership on energy issues, free university education, measures to increase transparency in government operations and decisiveness in tackling national security, as well as leadership in forging Caribbean economic integration.

“Mr. Prime Minister, your reform efforts on the domestic front reflect the common recognition of the hemisphere that democracy is not only about holding free and fair elections. Once elections have been held, governments must then go about the business of delivering the benefits of democracy to their people,” declared Insulza.

Permanent Council Chairman Illes introduced Prime Minister Manning to the Permanent Council, hailing him as an internationally respected “new-style Caribbean leader with a progressive vision,” who has been instrumental in raising the international profile of Trinidad and Tobago and has assumed a key leadership position in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Reference: E-202/06