Media Center



  June 4, 2007

PANAMA CITY, Panama—The 37th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) held its first plenary session today in the Panamanian capital with remarks by a number of the region’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The meeting was chaired by the First Vice President and Foreign Minister of Panama, Samuel Lewis Navarro.

The Heads of Delegation of Belize, Canada, Ecuador, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia took the floor to address the central issue of the General Assembly, Energy for Sustainable Development They also offered their respective governments’ views on other issues on the hemispheric agenda, such as the strengthening of democracy, the inter-American human rights system and immigration.

The Hemispheric Plan of Action Against Transnational Organized Crime, the Follow-Up Mechanism of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption and the commitment to stability in Haiti were among other issues the ministers addressed. Several delegations expressed hope for a quick conclusion of the negotiations to adopt a Social Charter of the Americas that would guarantee social rights to all people of the region.

On energy issues, they said the excessive increases and constant fluctuations in the cost of fossil fuels, as well as climate change, conspire against development in the most vulnerable countries. They noted that energy is an essential element for sustainable development in the region and that it helps provide the conditions needed for a competitive economy.

The delegates talked about the importance of exchanging national experiences on such key issues as the use of renewable energy and the preservation of the environment, which is currently under serious threat.

On another matter, several delegations highlighted the critical role that freedom of expression plays in consolidating democracy in the region and urged OAS member states to respect the terms stipulated on this issue in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, referred to the recent cancellation of the broadcasting license of the Venezuelan network Radio Caracas Television, noting that her government believes this constitutes a “strong measure against democracy.” This position was rejected by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, who reaffirmed his country’s complete commitment to democracy and demanded respect toward the sovereign decisions adopted by his government.

Reference: GA-18-07