Media Center

Press Release


  September 28, 2005

Guyana’s President, Bharrat Jagdeo, today called on the Organization of American States (OAS) and the rest of the inter-American system to do more to reduce poverty and inequality in the Americas. He urged more effective action to prevent and resolve conflicts and humanitarian crises, spur technological advances and channel trade and investment to lift social and environmental standards.

Addressing the OAS Permanent Council during a protocolary session—called in his honor under the chairmanship of Ambassador Roberto Alvarez of the Dominican Republic—the Guyanese leader included among other necessary steps, “better policies that favor just and sustainable development and better organized labor mobility.”

Mr. Jagdeo lamented fragilities in the “neo-liberal” economic model being followed by the region’s nations, calling instead for an appropriate development model that “must ensure that capital is adequately remunerated but at the same time must provide significant safeguards for the poor and vulnerable and deal with inequality within our societies.”

In his wide-ranging address, Mr. Jagdeo spoke about the loss of preferential access to markets and the consequent “considerable harm” that Caribbean economies have suffered. He argued that, “Proposing special and differential treatment is not an appeal for a hand-out, it is a realistic appraisal of our vulnerabilities.” He stated further that “Latin American and Caribbean countries must lead efforts to create a world trading system that is fair, rule-based, that has mechanisms to enforce its decisions, and takes account of the interests of both large and small.”

Jagdeo asserted that “there can be no surprise that democracy is being shaken to its core in some areas in our hemisphere,” after citing a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) study finding that 44% of Latin Americans believe democracy does not solve a country’s problems and 54% would support an authoritarian administration if it solved a country’s problems.

But he praised the OAS’ Inter-American Democratic Charter as “the most innovative mechanism in the world for defending democracy and which has strengthened the value and practice of democracy in our hemisphere.” In lauding the OAS role in preparations for the upcoming fourth Summit of the Americas in Argentina in November, he said the commitment to collective action has yielded positive results, “most conspicuously in the strengthening of democracy, renewing our commitment to the protection of human rights, creating the conditions for greater prosperity and fostering social justice by placing an emphasis on social investment, equal opportunity and the full realization of the human potential.”

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, welcoming the Guyana president, commended Jagdeo as a “leader of today, with a vision for the future.” Insulza described Mr. Jagdeo as “a strong advocate on issues of poverty and debt-reduction,” noting how he has played an important role in convincing international financial institutions of the need for substantial debt-relief for countries such as Guyana that have suffered so much from debt. “Your success in negotiating debt-relief is testimony of your focus to make Guyana a better place for present and future generations,” said Insulza.

Reference: E-220/05