Media Center



  June 2, 2007

PANAMA CITY, Panama—A five-member delegation from the United States Congress met today with representatives of the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS)—along with OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin—to talk about U.S. relations with the rest of the hemisphere, particularly Latin America and the Caribbean.

During a luncheon held the day before the OAS General Assembly was to begin in the Panamanian capital, diplomats from the region talked with the legislators about priority issues in their countries’ bilateral relations with the United States, with immigration and trade high on the agenda. Several countries raised concerns about how to meet challenges posed by U.S. deportation policies.

Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) led the congressional delegation, accompanied by Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Mike McNulty (D-NY), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Mike Honda (D-CA). This is the first-ever such visit made in the framework of an OAS General Assembly, which will bring together the region’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs from June 3-5.

The luncheon discussion today, which centered on “U.S. Relations with Latin America and the Caribbean from a Congressional Perspective,” gave the member state delegates and congressional representatives the opportunity to informally exchange ideas and concerns. Secretary General Insulza underscored the importance of strengthening mutual cooperation and understanding among the countries of the region, particularly in this era of globalization.

For his part, Congressman Meeks underscored the interest of Congress in furthering relations with the region and in following up on priority issues raised by the diplomats at the meeting. He said he was optimistic about the dialogue that is taking place during these days in Panama, noting the historic nature of this visit.

The members of Congress also participated in an international forum today in Panama, in which the OAS General Secretariat offered an overview of its work in observing elections over the years.

Reference: GA-11-07