Media Center

Press Release


  November 4, 2005

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina – The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said at the opening of the Fourth Summit of the Americas today that for decent jobs to be created in the region, economic growth, macroeconomic balance and open markets are essential.

“We have made important strides with these policies,” Insulza said, citing positive rates of growth, a substantial reduction in deficits and inflation, and the conclusion of numerous bilateral and regional trade agreements, most recently the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA).

Referring to the central theme of the Fourth Summit – “Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance” – Insulza recognized the importance of free markets and private economic initiatives in generating employment, but also underscored the role of public policy. He recalled that in the 1980s, “distorted ideologies” at times led to a disparagement of the role of government in distributing wealth and providing essential social services.

Recognizing the value of public policy does not mean limiting the capacity of businesses or individuals to generate wealth, Insulza stressed. “On the contrary, the creation of an economic and social climate conducive to investment and private enterprise through clear rules that eliminate fear, that open up markets, that cut back on bureaucracy as much as possible, and that afford private initiative the opportunity to achieve growth must be the unavoidable basis for our governments’ public policy.”

The Secretary General recognized that the largest number of jobs will always be created through private initiative, but cautioned that market forces alone are insufficient to guarantee a just distribution of wealth and to meet basic social needs.

“The time has come to recognize that fighting poverty and inequality also calls for clear, targeted public policies managed by governments endowed with resources and technical skills,” he said. “The fundamental task for policy and politicians is to solve people´s problems and not create new ones, as often happens in our countries.”

Insulza noted that in 2004 the region had its best economic year in two decades and that the prospects for 2005 and 2006 are favorable. Still, he said, there is a “palpable sense of uncertainty,” a natural consequence of the financial crises the region faced in the first years of this decade.

“From the people´s point of view, there are two key questions: First, will we be able, this time, to maintain a pace of growth that will prevent our region from continuing to lose standing in the world economy, in the face of other developing regions that, in recent decades, have had much higher rates of growth? And, this time, will the benefits of our growth and our democracy actually benefit the more than 200 million poor, half of them destitute, living in our region today?”

In his remarks to the Heads of State and Government of the 34 OAS member states, the Secretary General also talked about the need to enhance good governance, noting that in recent years the region has experienced “serious problems regarding political stability and the quality of public administration.” In order to improve public policy, Insulza said, “we must first of all expand and strengthen freedom in the Americas.”

“Overcoming unemployment and poverty presupposes freer societies, in which all people are fully able to speak out and participate, with more justice, transparency, greater freedom of expression and association, and full respect for gender equality, and with respect for the diversity of original peoples, compatriots of African descent, the most vulnerable groups, and the millions of migrants and displaced people,” he said.

The Secretary General underscored the role of the Inter-American Democratic Charter as a tool to help the region “forge a community of free nations, whose governments not only develop democratically but also govern with full respect for the rule of law, guaranteeing the human rights of their citizens at all times.”

“The Charter is not simply an agreement among governments; it is also a victory for our peoples, and as such, it must be adhered to unconditionally,” Insulza said. He noted that the Democratic Charter, the launching of negotiations to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas, the adoption of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and the formation of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission are among the significant achievements of the Summit of the Americas process.

The President of Argentina, Néstor Kirchner, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and the President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno, also spoke at the opening ceremony.

Reference: E-259/05