Media Center

Press Release


  December 5, 2006

Now that the countries of the Americas have “mastered the holding of democratic elections,” they must continue the difficult but much more important task of “delivering the benefits of democracy to a deserving people,” Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza said.

Speaking at the opening of the 30th Miami Conference on the Caribbean Basin, the Secretary General noted that Caribbean and Central American countries have made significant strides in consolidating their democracies, at the same time pursuing the economic reforms needed to foster economic growth and reduce poverty. “Now is the time to embrace policies that will bolster their economic resilience and in so doing, improve their international competitiveness,” Insulza told participants Monday night, at the annual conference organized by Caribbean/Central American Action.

The three-day conference brings together a broad cross-section of business and political leaders and international experts to discuss a wide-ranging agenda of public policy issues such as competitiveness, maritime security, disaster preparedness and corporate social responsibility.

This year’s invited speakers include Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur; Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller; Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez; and Honduras President José Manuel Zelaya. Other participants include Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno, OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin and United States Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.

Surveying the achievements on the democratic front, the OAS Secretary General commented on the vastly different landscape in Latin America and the Caribbean as against three decades ago, when the conference was launched. He highlighted the central role of democracy today, noting also that 2006 has been the most active electoral season in the Americas in recent memory.

Latin America and the Caribbean have seen four straight years of economic growth, he added, highlighting a “very encouraging” outlook for 2007 despite the impact of high oil prices. “Our embrace of sound macroeconomic indicators is bearing fruit in the form of sustained growth and we must be diligent about maintaining our gains,” said Insulza. But he warned that most Latin American and Caribbean countries are still struggling to improve their economic competitiveness. Citing the 2006 Global Competitiveness Report, he said Chile and Barbados are the only Latin American and Caribbean countries in the top 50 of 117 countries, ranking 27th and 31st respectively. “On the whole, the countries of our region languished in the bottom 50 percent.”

Secretary General Insulza called for a fresh perspective and renewed resolve to make the region more competitive, and to ensure long-term sustainable development of the countries. “Sound economic resilience emanates from good policy practices that promote macroeconomic stability; microeconomic market efficiency; good governance, social development and cohesion, and sound environmental management, he said.

Reference: E-270/06