Media Center

Press Release


  October 23, 2003

Guyana’s Ambassador Odeen Ishmael, in his last formal presentation as Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), stressed the need for a “humane globalization.” He also renewed the call for a regional integration fund to help the small member countries participate in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) that is due to begin operating in 2005.

Speaking Wednesday after a number of ambassadors extolled his diplomatic and intellectual contributions to the OAS during a more than 10-year assignment in Washington, Ambassador Ishmael argued that globalization must be “small economy-friendly” if it is to succeed without causing grievous damage to economic and political institutions, “or else it will face strong opposition from nations that are trying to market their relatively small amounts of export commodities.

“Globalization must not be rapacious, like a shark feeding on sardines,” Ishmael insisted, adding, “there must be no double standards, where developed countries demand that they market subsidized commodities to compete with those produced by developing countries forced to cut out subsidies as a condition for multilateral financial assistance.” Ishmael explained that a humane globalization allows for special and differential treatment for the smaller economies and at the same time encourages not only free trade but fair trade as well.

In his remarks, the Guyanese Ambassador also called on the OAS to be more pro-active on the debt question, HIV/AIDS and the fight against poverty, issues he said the OAS must grapple with as the region’s premier forum for policy discussion. He also lamented that more progress had not been achieved toward a satisfactory resolution of Haiti’s political crisis, and offered his continued support to that end.

But he praised OAS efforts on many fronts – including technical cooperation, of which Guyana has been a beneficiary with a number of important projects. Ambassador Ishmael concluded by thanking OAS Secretary General César Gaviria and the OAS General Secretariat staff as well as the member state ambassadors and permanent observers for their collaboration. He also acknowledged the support of his own Permanent Mission’s staff.

The Permanent Council Chairman, Honduran Ambassador Salvador Rodezno, said Ishmael’s distinguished representation and his numerous and invaluable contributions to the hemispheric cause are a matter of record in the annals of the OAS. Secretary General César Gaviria, for his part, described the outgoing diplomat as an excellent leader and a great spokesman for Guyana and the Caribbean whose wise counsel and constant support have served the OAS well.

Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Saint Lucian Ambassador Sonia Johnny underscored Ishmael’s “illustrious” service to the OAS as well as the breadth and depth of his service to the Americas that included including twice chairing the OAS Permanent Council.

Mexico’s Ambassador Miguel Ruiz-Cabañas, representing the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) countries, noted the sharp intellect Ambassador Ishmael applied in helping advance the hemispheric organization’s work, also commending his balance and sense of humor. Ambassador Lisa Shoman of Belize spoke on the Central American Group’s behalf, describing the Guyanese diplomat as “a gentle and perfect knight” as well as “a man of erudition” who has spoken his truth gently.

Others adding farewell tributes included the United States Permanent Representative John Maisto, who said Ishmael is “a good and wise man” and the “consummate diplomat” whose smooth management style he admired. Canada’s Alternate Representative Gwyn Kutz, Venezuela’s Alternate Representative Ambassador Nelson Pineda and Chile’s Ambassador Esteban Tomic were among others praising in glowing terms Ambassador Odeen Ishmael’s legacy at the OAS.

Reference: E-206/03