at the Annual Conference of the Council of the Americas
Secretary Colin L. Powell
Thank you very much, David, for that very warm and
kind introduction. It's good to be with so many good
friends as I scan the audience, and especially with
you, David. And I do appreciate that kind introduction.
And I also would like to thank the Council for making
allowances for my schedule, allowing me to come down
a little earlier. It is one of these particularly busy
days in Washington that comes from time to time. I have
King Abdallah of Jordan, Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia,
the Foreign Minister. Prime Minister Sharon will also
be coming today. I'll be meeting with him. And also
President Museveni of Uganda.
And then we have a number of meetings having to do
with the upcoming US-Moscow summit that we have to attend
to. We are looking forward to the summit meeting with
Russia in two weeks time, but the preparations for a
summit are always quite demanding. So it is just an
average day in the life of a Secretary of State. (Laughter.)
And I am also going to have the privilege a little
later this morning of speaking to the Anti-Defamation
League as well on the subject of tolerance. So no better
way to start the day, however, than with the Council
of the Americas. I'm very pleased to be with you, and
it's a pleasure to welcome you -- David and Bill Rhodes
and Alan Stoga and the Council -- to the State Department
for your 32nd Washington Conference.
And as you all know, it has become something of a tradition
for the Secretary of State to open the Washington Conference,
but I'm not here today just out of a reverence for tradition.
I'm here because I want to reach out to you once again,
the business people who have hands-on experience in
the Americas. I see all the old friends in the audience
that I've worked with in the past, so many who have
been committed to democracy and economic development
and reform, and I know that each of you will see many
other old friends here at the podium over the next two
days, beginning after I leave with my point man for
the Americas, Assistant Secretary Otto Reich. He's well
known to you. He headed the Council's Washington Office
from 1976 to '81, and now he is the Assistant Secretary
of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs. It wasn't
always easy, but Otto is here, he's on board, and I
can tell you we're very, very glad to have him on the
You'll be hearing from him in a few moments. You'll
be hearing from the Vice President and many of my Cabinet
colleagues over the next several days, but first I'd
like to set the stage for those later presentations,
if I may. And let me start, as David noted, with September
11th of last year, the day that changed the world as
we knew it. For me, it was a remarkable day. For all
of us it was a remarkable day, but for me it was a moving
day, a day of many mixed emotions, as it was also for
But I was in a breakfast meeting with President Toledo
in Lima, Peru. We were talking about bilateral issues,
we were talking about trade, we were talking about textile
imports and exports when two notes came in from my assistant
telling me that something terrible had happened in Washington,
D.C. and in New York. And I knew that I had to return
But before returning to Washington, while the plane
was being prepared, I did want to participate in the
OAS Conference, because we were there to validate our
belief in the community of democracy here in the Western
Hemisphere -- 34 of 35 nations all committed to democracy,
not only as a political system, but as something we
believe in as a value system. And we were going to put
in place the rules of the road. If you're going to be
a member of this democratic club in our hemisphere,
there are rules, there are obligations, there are consequences
for violating those rules and obligations.
And so I wanted to participate in that meeting and
be part of the vote, and I'll never forget moving into
the conference room, and my various colleagues from
around the hemisphere stood up and expressed their solidarity
with the United States in this time of crisis and pledged
their support. And then we passed that statement on
democracy, that Charter on Democracy, and then in an
unanimous vote of acclamation, they made it clear that
the OAS would be standing with the United States in
this time of trial.
Our hemispheric solidarity and action have continued
since then. The OAS has acted further. We are working
together as a hemisphere to deny haven to terrorists
and their funds. We particularly valued Brazil's leadership
in bringing together the signatories of the Rio Treaty
to invoke its collective defense provisions. Brazil
is the world's fourth largest democracy and Latin America's
largest economy. We share many common goals, such as
promoting democracy and economic reform, advancing free
trade, and combating terrorism and narcotics trafficking.
And we look forward to a continuing partnership with
Brazil, both in the hemisphere and increasingly on the
Now our challenge is to work with all of our partners
in the hemisphere to weave our cooperation against terrorism
into the very fabric of our relations and into our institutions.
We must ensure that such cooperation becomes part of
the normal way that we do business here in the hemisphere.
I am pleased to say that we are well on our way to doing
September 11th was also about our hemisphere's commitment
to freedom and democracy, as I mentioned, a commitment
made even more important by our fight against terrorism.
At last year's Summit of the Americas in Quebec City,
our leaders chartered the vision of a hemisphere free,
prosperous and secure; free for all peoples to live
their lives under responsive and representative governments;
prosperous for everyone, not just the privileged few;
and secure, not only from the scourge of terrorism,
but also from the plagues of narcotics trafficking and
We have made progress. The Democratic Charter we approved
on September 11th announced to the world that democracy
is the norm in this hemisphere and that we will not
tolerate backsliding, backsliding into the bad old days
of unelected authoritarian regimes. President Bush's
Compact for Development, which he unveiled in his March
14th speech to the Inter-American Development Bank,
marked a further stage in the linkage between democracy,
good governance, and development. And at the International
Conference on Financing for Development, which met shortly
after that in Monterrey, Mexico, leaders from around
the world committed their countries to sound policies,
good governance at all levels, and rule of law.
We have also advanced the trade agenda at the heart
of the Quebec City declaration of last year. We have
launched the Doha development round of World Trade Organization
negotiations. With our partner Brazil, we will co-chair
negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas
this fall. We are nearing a free trade agreement with
Chile and preparing to negotiate one with all of Central
America. And President Bush and his administration are
working to gain congressional reauthorization of the
Andean Trade Preference Act and approval of the trade
promotion authority that we desperately need to bring
our very ambitious trade agenda to a successful conclusion.
The recent history of our region shows why we believe
so strongly that freedom, prosperity and security are
mutually reinforcing. We all now know how a country
such as Mexico, Chile and El Salvador have made great
strides in combing institutional reform, responsive
government, and economic opening to create better lives
for all their people. Uruguay, too, has parlayed good
governance and economic reform into an island of stability
in a sea of political and economic uncertainty. Uruguayans
enjoy the most equitable income distribution in Latin
America. They have confidence in their political institutions.
In Uruguay, corruption is a crime, not an accepted part
of doing business. With this foundation of good government
and democracy, Uruguay has so far been able to withstand
powerful economic shocks that would have crippled more
fragile countries and societies.
Still, as the problems besetting us appear, and we
see a hemisphere that is more troubled than it was when
we met a year ago, we see a hemisphere that has difficulties
in many, many different ways -- difficulty with their
democratic institutions, difficulty with their economies.
Our close friend and ally, Argentina, is in the midst
of a profound economic and political crisis. We want
to help Argentina work its way out of its problems.
Working through the IMF and other international financial
institutions, we remain committed to supporting additional
financial assistance to help stabilize the Argentine
economy and put it on the long road to sustained growth.
But economic reform alone will not bring Argentina
out of crisis. Argentina must also address the underlying
political and institutional flaws that encourage excess
public sector borrowing, corruption, politicized judicial
systems, and a lack of transparency in government activities.
The democratically elected government of Colombia faces
multiple threats to its survival, to its very existence,
and we will help Colombia to defend its democracy against
the threats of drugs and terrorists. We will help promote
a peaceful, prosperous society that respects human rights
and respects the rule of law.
We are prepared to assist Colombia in asserting state
authority and effective security throughout the country.
While there is clearly no military solution to all of
Colombia's problems, there must be a more robust military
and security component to US policy. We are prepared
to expand the scope and nature of our assistance, but
Colombia must also fully commit itself to the tough
steps that will be needed to achieve success. We will
support the efforts of the Colombian people, but we
can not and will not supplant them.
Venezuela's democracy, as we all know, is undergoing
a severe test. If the people of Venezuela are to succeed
in building better lives for themselves and more hopeful
futures for their children, their political leaders
must resolve their problems in a constitutional and
This is the era in our hemisphere of democracies, not
dictators; of constitutions, not coups. Coups must be
recognized for what they are: fading echoes of a discredited
past, not the road to a democratic future. President
Chavez must follow with deeds his new pledges of national
reconciliation and respect for democratic principles.
We urge him to work with the OAS. We look forward to
working with him in the context of the OAS's Democratic
Charter in order to facilitate genuine strengthening
of Venezuela's democratic institutions on behalf of
The people of Haiti have suffered for almost two centuries
under bad leadership that has failed to respond to their
needs. Breaking that cycle is Haiti's greatest challenge.
I might say it is a source of personal disappointment
to me that nearly eight years after my mission with
President Carter and Senator Nunn to help restore Haiti's
elected government, Haiti has made so little progress.
It is still far from supporting a democratically competitive
political environment, in which human and civil rights
are respected and economic growth is made possible.
And then we have to of course not lose sight of the
situation in Cuba. Cuba cannot remain forever the sole
holdout from the hemisphere's march of democracy and
free markets. The Castro regime makes a mockery of freedom.
It impoverishes the Cuban people. As President Bush
has said on many occasions, our goal is to promote a
rapid, peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba. The
people of Cuba deserve no less.
In addition to the specific problems besetting these
and other countries, there is a broader, deeper discontent
in the region. Peoples throughout much of the Americas
are increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of democracy
and frustrated with the results of economic reform.
If we got rid of the dictators, if we got rid of the
generals, if we got rid of all of the authoritarian
regimes, things are supposed to get better; there's
supposed to be food on the table, a roof over our heads,
education for our children, health care. There is a
disenchantment with the institutions of elective government.
In too many countries, people are losing faith in their
political systems and leaders. Things were supposed
to be better; things were supposed to be better rapidly.
A recent region-wide survey found a decline in support
for democracy. There's a decline in support for democracy
stated as preferable to any other kind of government.
In 16 of the 17 Latin countries that were polled, that
was the result: a decline in support for democracy.
What good is democracy if your life is not better?
Meanwhile, too many people are making too many economic
sacrifices in the name of freedom, without seeing their
lives improve. For them, it is still a daily struggle
to put that food on the table, educate their children,
and do all the other things that we want to do for our
families. Too many governments have failed to undertake
the so-called second generation reforms that are necessary
to consolidate the gains and attract the investment
that economies need to grow.
I don't need to tell you that without reforms to tax
laws, pensions, regulatory systems and the judiciary,
investors will find other places to send their money.
Capital, as I say all the time, is a coward. It flees
from corruption and bad policies, conflict and unpredictability.
It goes where it is welcomed, where investors can be
confident of a return on the resources that they have
put at risk, the resources that they in turn get from
shareholders, get from average citizens looking for
a decent return on their investment, on their savings.
Capital flows to countries with clarity of law; and
accountability of government is what we must all strive
Going forward, our challenge is to work with our neighbors
to help them complete and consolidate their political,
institutional and economic reforms. The only answer
to the problems of insufficient democracy and incomplete
economic reform is more democracy and more economic
reform. The past year has been a difficult one, where
our beliefs have been tested. But it has also been a
time when our convictions have been confirmed, and that
is what makes me optimistic moving forward. We have
come very far since the lost decade of the 1980s. In
the 2000s, our ability to weather the storms will provide
the strength of the hemisphere we are building.
Last year I challenged you to do even more of the wonderful
work that you have done to free and empower the people
of our hemisphere. This year I have two challenges for
you, for all of us really, and for the governments of
the hemisphere. And the first of these challenges is
to the governments of the hemisphere. I challenge them
to finish the job. I challenge them to improve the quality
of their democracies. I challenge them to see political,
institutional and economic reforms through to completion.
I challenge them to join us in making the Free Trade
Area of the Americas a reality.
The United States will be there to help them. We fully
support what we did in Quebec City last year. We are
fully committed to the initiative that President Bush
launched just before Monterrey, and we discussed at
some length in Monterrey, of a Millennium Challenge
Fund: $5 billion a year when it comes into effect in
about three years from now, 5 billion additional aid
dollars a year to those countries that are committed
to democracy, to those countries that are committed
to the rule of law, to those countries that are committed
to transparency, to help them, to help them jumpstart
their economies so that they can cross over this gap
that exists between the initial promise of democracy
and the reality of a better life for people.
To you the business people in this room, I issue the
second challenge: to help the governments, institutions
and people of the hemisphere achieve the vision that
we all have, the vision I have just described; support
free trade and open economies; insist on good governance
and economic reform; demonstrate your convictions in
your business practices. You have a critical role to
play if we are to make the vision of Quebec City and
Monterrey a reality.
With hard work from all of us, with your help and with
a little bit of luck, we will succeed. Thank you very