Media Center

Press Release

OAS General Assembly: Member states highlight achievements and challenges in development with social inclusion

  June 4, 2014

Today, in the second plenary of the forty-fourth regular session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which is taking place in Asunción, Paraguay through Thursday, June 5, member states emphasized the need to search for better policies for “Development with social inclusion,” which is the Assembly’s central theme.

In accordance with their requests for the floor, 12 heads of delegation spoke in the morning session.

United States

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom expressed her country’s commitment to cooperate with “all our Hemispheric neighbors on the issues that most affect the well-being and security of our citizens.” On the Assembly’s central theme, she said that the region of the Americas “has shown the world that accountable democratic governance is the surest way to expand social and economic opportunity.” At the end of her remarks, she expressed appreciation for “the hard work that has been done in strengthening the OAS over the past year” and shared her country’s conviction that “a vibrant and active OAS is central to our common vision ofcreating a peaceful, prosperous, and socially inclusive Hemisphere.”


Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua Milano quoted words about development from his country’s late President Hugo Chávez: “Economic growth only makes sense if it contributes to improving the population’s living conditions and to achieving development and eliminating poverty and inequality, because the elimination of poverty and inequality is the only way to generate development.” Minister Jaua summarized his government’s achievements in the reduction of extreme poverty, hunger, and illiteracy, and in expanding access to health services and education. He said that “the fight for integral development and poverty eradication is not possible in a single country. It will only be possible through economic and social complementarity and the economic and productive integration of our countries.”


Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, said that “development cannot be understood without social inclusion.” The Mexican Foreign Minister linked the theme of the discussion with the process underway to define “the post-2015 Development Agenda, which must be transformative, addressing root causes and not only the problems of the lack of development.” He said that the OAS “must provide construction space for defining priorities and actions to meet our region’s particular needs” for development with social inclusion.


The Deputy Foreign Minister and Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the OAS, Denis Moncada, said that the General Assembly’s central theme is closely related to his government’s priority areas “such as education, health, food security, gender equality, protection of vulnerable groups, and citizen security, among others.” After summarizing his country’s programs for inclusive development, Ambassador Moncada said that the government “has instituted and continues to develop a partnership with consensus and dialogue among the private sector, workers, small and medium producers, and the government, a process that makes it possible to appreciate the important role of this partnership model in socioeconomic development and the fight against poverty.”

Dominican Republic

The Deputy Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic, Alejandra Lidiano de la Cruz, welcomed the choice of the Assembly’s central theme: “Development with social inclusion.” “It is a topic that fully expresses our states’ objective, which is precisely to give their citizens a decent life in which their basic rights are ensured.” The Dominican Deputy Minister said that her country has launched various programs to benefit the neediest sectors, and by way of example mentioned the education plan that has taught more than 300,000 people to read and write. She said her country is committed to working with the OAS, which she called “the principal Hemispheric policy forum,” and reaffirmed her government’s support for the process of the Strategic Vision of the OAS.


Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrígues-Birkett, said her country plans to discuss the Assembly’s central theme and other matters on the regional agenda, such as the political situation in the Hemisphere, the human rights system, the development agenda, and the Strategic Vision of the OAS. Minister Rodrígues-Birkett said Guyana is especially interested in development of the island states in the Caribbean basin, which represent one-third of the OAS countries and have a series of specific vulnerabilities. She referred to the impact of climate change on the Caribbean’s two main industries: tourism and agriculture. On this matter, Guyana’s chief diplomat said that “no other threat to growth or to social inclusion is more potent or more certain than climate change,” and added that the theme must be considered in the OAS security and development agenda.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas, Frederick Mitchell, said that inclusive development is a core element in his government’s economic and social objectives following the effects of the global recession. Minister Mitchell said the Agricultural and Marine Science Institute recently established in the Bahamas is intended help ensure food security and jobs for all Bahamians. Minister Mitchell said that when people refer to exclusion they usually do not include young men, who are being outnumbered by women in higher education and employment. “Sadly, to many end up in criminality,” said the Bahamian diplomat, who added that the exclusion makes them feel alienated from their respective societies.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia, David Choquehuanca, congratulated the government of Paraguay for selecting “Development with social inclusion” as the central theme of the forty-fourth regular session of the General Assembly. He said, “each OAS General Assembly has the distinction of delving into specific themes of concern to our region, such as natural resources, the economy, food security with sovereignty, reforms to the Organization, and in this Assembly we will speak of development with social inclusion.” Bolivia’s chief diplomat said that all the decisions adopted now will affect the life of generations to come in the Hemisphere. In his remarks, the Bolivian Minister of Foreign Affairs reiterated his country’s demand to Chile for an exit to the sea.


Argentina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and Worship, Héctor Timerman, said that the eradication of poverty is the greatest problem confronting the governments in the world and that this “must be addressed through social inclusion, redistribution, and social justice.” He said that in his country’s view “integration and equality of the most vulnerable sectors is one of the primary principles of public policy.”He referred to the shared concern for the increasing number of natural catastrophes in the region, and said that several countries in the region are already working on this problem “with initiatives based on partnership and a shared vision.” In conclusion, he expressed appreciation for support from countries of the region in the search for a peaceful resolution of Argentina’s claim for sovereignty over the Islas Malvinas.


Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heraldo Muñoz, reviewed the economic data of the region, noting that “12 of the 20 of the countries in the world with the greatest inequality are in our region,” and said the inequity gap begins at birth and continues throughout the life cycle.” To reduce inequality and maximize social inclusion, he said, it is necessary to design clear public policies and dynamic labor markets. He said that in the context of international policy “Chile gives priority to building bridges of understanding among countries and subregional organizations, despite differences.” Foreign Minister Muñoz replied to the Bolivia Foreign Minister’s remarks about his country’s claim for maritime access, saying that this was not the appropriate forum for raising the matter.


Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, reviewed the evolution of his country’s relations with the rest of the Hemisphere and the importance that his government attaches to those ties. “In 2007, Prime Minister Harper declared that the Americas are a priority in Canada’s foreign policy,” he said, and since then bilateral trade with Latin America and the Caribbean has increased by more than one-third. He said that some of the primary ties that unite the member states are democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. “Democracy means more than counting pieces of paper in a box; it means having freedom,” he said, adding that “democracy is a journey, not a destination.” In conclusion he said that the OAS “is the most important multilateral forum in the Hemisphere,” and therefore his country “continues to be one of the largest contributors” to the organization.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Fernando Carrera, recalled the agreements reached at the last General Assembly, held in his country, which focused on the drug problem in the Americas. He recalled that the Declaration adopted in La Antigua “called for the development of comprehensive policies designed to protect health, prevent violence, combat money laundering and firearms trafficking, and reduce imprisonment,” and reiterated Guatemala’s commitment to continue working on this subject. With respect to the General Assembly in Paraguay, the Foreign Minister said that “today’s social conflict, which stems from the exclusion of huge segments of the population of the Americas, requires transforming solutions”; he described the initiatives that Guatemala has taken in that direction.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-Roll of the event is available here.

The full video of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-232/14