Media Center

Press Release


  November 29, 2006

MADRID, Spain—The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today called for European countries to develop cooperation strategies towards Latin America that would encompass major issues of mutual interest to both regions. European and Latin American governments should work together to tackle such concerns as migration, social cohesion, security, good governance and drug trafficking, Insulza told a conference at the Foundation for International Relations and External Dialogue (FRIDE) in Madrid.

The OAS Secretary General urged Europe to take a renewed interest in the region and demonstrate the political will to help Latin American governments address such problems as persistent poverty. He expressed concern that Latin America tends not to figure prominently among European priorities because the region no longer poses a problem for the major powers, now that it has left behind the era of democratic collapse.

“There are no clear cooperation policies; European investments do not flow to Latin America, nor to the Caribbean; and there is no concerted focus, for instance, on drug trafficking, a scourge that affects both regions alike,” remarked Insulza. He added: “We cannot say that there is any effective agenda in place that includes the major problems of our region.” The OAS Secretary General therefore called for a greater willingness to address the most pressing concerns of Latin America and the Caribbean – regions which, despite the problems, are undergoing a period of institutional strengthening.

The OAS chief also called for Europe to pay more attention to Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Americas. He warned that without international support Haiti risks frustration of its efforts to consolidate democracy and address social, political and economic development. Insulza identified Haiti as a country that not only has not followed the trend of economic growth in the region, but has actually declined economically, and he warned that the Caribbean nation cannot be asked to rebuild its institutions without solid long-term technical and financial support.

Secretary General Insulza met on Tuesday afternoon with Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Édouard Alexis and discussed problems the nine-month-old government of President René Préval must confront. Insulza and Prime Minister Alexis are both in Madrid attending the International Conference for Economic and Social Development of Haiti, organized by the Spanish government. Conference participants include representatives of countries and organizations that provide funding and logistical support for the process of strengthening Haiti’s institutions.

In his address to the meeting today, Insulza noted this was among the best economic times for Latin America, which has overcome a number of crises it faced last year. Democracy is clearly in a stronger position in the region, he noted, after a particularly active electoral season that began in December 2005.

The Secretary General met this morning with the President of the Spanish Congress, Manuel Marín. They reviewed the situation in Latin America and a range of other international developments.

Reference: E-259/06