Originally: Official Outlines U.S., OAS Initiatives in the Americas


The United States remains committed to promoting a democratic, prosperous Western Hemisphere and is working with the Organization of American States (OAS) to achieve that goal, says John Maisto, U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS.

In September 11 remarks at the Andean Development Corporation’s annual conference, Maisto said that President Bush’s vision for the region remains focused on “building a hemisphere that trades in freedom and grows in prosperity.”

Toward that end, he said, “our relations throughout the Americas are advancing on a broad number of very important fronts as we forge ahead with the President’s agenda for the Western Hemisphere.”

Maisto noted U.S. progress in advancing trade in the hemisphere, in part through the recently concluded agreement with Chile and in ongoing talks with Central America and the Dominican Republic. He said President Bush also remains committed to the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas by the target date of 2005.

The United States’ efforts to advance the hemispheric agenda through the OAS and the Summit of the Americas process were also addressed by Maisto.

He said the Inter-American Democratic Charter, signed by the 34 active member states of the OAS on September 11, 2001, “represents a new and unprecedented foundation upon which to build.” Article One of the Charter, Maisto noted, concludes that “democracy is essential for the social, political and economic development of the peoples of the Americas.” He added that the Charter serves as an OAS blueprint for resolving political turmoil in Venezuela and Haiti, and will one day serve as a blueprint for a new, democratic Cuba.

The list of other OAS initiatives to advance the Summit of the Americas process, Maisto said, is “long and impressive.” The list includes : the establishment of a follow-up mechanism to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption ; promoting the human rights of women and children ; progressing on a draft declaration on indigenous rights ; implementing a multilateral mechanism to evaluate member states’ efforts to curb drug use and narcotics trafficking ; and promoting confidence- and security-building measures.

He added that the OAS is also preparing a conference on hemispheric security, supporting the creation of the FTAA and helping implement U.S. initiatives such as the Hemispheric Centers for Excellence in Teacher Training and the Inter-American E-Business Fellowships Program.

Maisto said the United States is looking forward to the Special Summit of the Americas, to be held in January in Mexico. He indicated that a proposed theme of the summit is “Creating Opportunity for All,” which he said “encompasses the elements of good governance, economic growth and poverty reduction.” He cited “political will and reform” as the summit’s primary focus.

The hemisphere has made great strides in the last two decades, but remains troubled, Maisto warned. He stated that U.S. leadership will be crucial to helping the region’s leaders overcome persistent political, economic, and social problems, and pledged that the United States will work with the OAS to advance the Summit of the Americas process and “help make democratic government serve every citizen better.”

Following is the transcript of Maisto’s remarks :

(begin transcript)

Remarks by Ambassador John F. Maisto, U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, National Coordinator for the Summit of the Americas Process

Andean Development Corporation, VII Annual Conference on, Trade and Investment in the Americas, , September 11, 2003, Washington, D.C.

First of all, welcome to the House of the Americas, and make yourselves at home — for this building truly is where we can all feel comfortable among friends — entre amigos, en casa.

I’d like to thank the Andean Development Corporation and the Inter-American Dialogue for inviting me to speak this evening. I trust you’ve all had a productive two days of meetings where you could discuss and exchange different points of view. Tonight won’t be like that — I have the last word, punto. You can thank Peter Hakim and Enrique Garco-a for that.

I am here among friends on the second anniversary of the horrendous terrorist attacks that shook this country and the world on September 11, 2001. Some have argued since then that along with the Twin Towers in New York City, Al Qaeda’s barbaric acts also brought down, blurred, or put on the back burner President Bush’s interest in or vision for a Century of the Americas.

I am, here this evening, pleased to tell you that the president’s vision for the Americas remains clear, focused and fixed on, as he stated in this very building at an April 2001 meeting of the OAS Permanent Council, building “a hemisphere that trades in freedom and grows in prosperity.”

The terrible events of 9/11 affected the hemisphere, to be sure. OAS member states took the lead with dramatic and effective steps to coordinate the region’s response to fight terrorism in the Americas. The OAS convened a meeting ten days after the attacks that outlined measures to invigorate the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) ; Brazil called for a meeting of states parties to the 1947 Inter-American Treaty for Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty) to declare that the attacks of September 11 were “attacks against all American States” and pledged their mutual assistance ; and negotiations began in earnest to draft the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, which was completed and signed by Secretary Powell and 32 other OAS member states in June 2002.

Without a doubt, the events of two years ago imposed upon us – and, I might add, all the nations of the hemisphere — an obligation to heighten security measures. With our neighbors to the north, Canada, and to the south, Mexico, we did just that. Within a year of 9/11, we hammered out two action plans for border management — led by Governor Ridge and his Homeland Security team — with both. They serve as models for modern border cooperation.

Our relationship with Mexico is particularly deep, broad and important — with NAFTA, of course, the crowning success. Just last week, Secretary Powell and Secretary Dorbez met. They discussed a wide range of issues on the regional and international agenda, in addition to key bilateral issues including trade, water, security, and immigration.

One in particular, the Partnership for Prosperity, focuses on the heart of the migration issue — how to respond to development needs in central and southern Mexico, the source of much movement north. The Partnership is one of the most exciting and potentially rewarding accomplishments of Presidents Bush and Fox. Moreover, it is one that has implications for the rest of the hemisphere because it rests on public-private partnerships that work.

Our relations throughout the Americas are advancing on a broad number of very important fronts as we forge ahead with the president’s agenda for the Western Hemisphere.

You’ve heard a lot about trade ; President Bush led the effort to secure Trade Promotion Authority from Congress. Last week, the president signed a Free Trade Agreement with Chile that had been on the shelf for a decade. Currently, the United States is negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Central America, which we expect to conclude by the end of this year. We are exploring similar talks with the Dominican Republic. The president is committed to a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. The United States has exerted tremendous leadership in the Doha Round of WTO talks — currently in meetings in Cancun — so as to negotiate appropriate frameworks for real and ambitious trade reform.

On the financial side, the United States has been steadfast in its support to the region. When Uruguay faced a financial crisis not of its own making, President Bush promptly provided a crucial bridge loan, totaling more than $1 billion. The United States also lent vital support to IMF agreements for Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador. And Argentina is receiving the support it needs from the United States as it gets its financial house in order. President Bush has also begun a new productive relationship with President Lula of Brazil, bringing our respective Cabinet members together for meetings — very recently in the summer — to institutionalize our very broad and deep cooperation across the board.

Turning to the Andean region specifically, if I may, the United States has three overarching goals for the region : (1) to create a more secure and stable political environment by strengthening democratic institutions and promoting respect for human rights ; (2) to promote an enhanced security environment through counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism efforts ; and (3) to foster social and economic development through trade and investment.

Let me begin with the last. Through the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Enforcement Act (ATPDEA), the successor to ATPA, total two-way trade between the United States and Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru grew 83 percent between 1991 and 2002. During this time, U.S. exports grew 70 percent, while U.S. imports from those countries increased 93 percent. That’s a jump in Andean exports to the United States from $5 billion to $9.6 billion — nearly double in ten years.

The United States will provide more than $1 billion in assistance to the region this year alone, while ATPDEA continues to afford Andean countries preferential access to the U.S. market.

In Colombia, President Bush stands shoulder-to-shoulder with President Uribe, supporting the efforts of his democratic government as it confronts cocaine barons and terrorist thugs. We are here to help the Government of Colombia achieve “democratic security” and re-establish state presence throughout the country. We support President Uribe’s efforts to achieve a credible peace process.

The significant decrease in coca and poppy cultivation in the past year requires steadfast support to prevent a reversal of this trend, and USAID will continue working with Colombia to support strengthening of the rule of law, democratic institutions, and respect for human rights. Since the year 2000, the United States has supported these initiatives to the tune of $2.5 billion.

In Ecuador, the United States is providing strong support to President Gutiorrez so he can continue to move ahead with increased security measures on the border with Colombia and push forward needed economic reforms in the face of political rivalries, competing social demands, and entrenched financial interests.

In Peru, the United States will continue to support President Toledo’s efforts to promote economic growth and rebuild democratic institutions — the recent release of the Truth Commission Report is a first step toward recovery for the people of Peru. The United States, together with Peru, is looking at new ways to promote drug eradication.

The U.S. also strongly supports the goal of increased economic growth and poverty reduction for Peru, and we understand the importance of the Camisea project to those goals. We greatly appreciate all of the work the Government of Peru has done to improve the environmental and social protections of that project, and are committed to continue to work with Peru to address these issues.

In Bolivia, we are reliable partners in President Soanchez de Lozada’s efforts to solidify democracy, fight narco-trafficking, maintain security and grow Bolivia’s economy. Bolivia has made dramatic progress in eradicating illegal coca over the last six years, and its continued commitment to a vigorous counter-narcotics program is key to Bolivia’s efforts to strengthen democratic rule, build its economy and improve people’s lives.

In Venezuela, the United States is working closely with the OAS, the Group of Friends, the Carter Center and the UNDP to seek a constitutional, democratic, peaceful and electoral solution — as stated in the OAS resolution — to the political impasse in that country. That is U.S. policy and has been since Venezuela’s political troubles erupted in 2002. We will continue to urge all parties to honor their commitments under the agreement of May 29, and, in concert with the international community, are prepared to provide technical and financial assistance to support the electoral process. In particular, we commend the tireless efforts in Venezuela of OAS Secretary General Cosar Gaviria.

I don’t want to go on with statistics, nor do I want to continue to list this Administration’s bilateral achievements in the Americas, but I think I’ve given you a view of the Bush Administration’s vision, policy and record in the Americas, which doesn’t always make the newspapers.

Now, if I may, I’d like to turn my attention to U.S. participation in the hemisphere’s agenda through the OAS and the Summit of the Americas process — and for that I need to return to September 11, 2001.

While the Twin Towers were imploding in New York two years ago today, Secretary of State Powell was in Lima, Peru — I was there with him — where, together with the foreign ministers of 33 other OAS member states, we took part in the meeting to sign the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

Article One of the Charter states : “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.”

I remain awestruck by what this hemisphere affirmed that day, in the OAS setting, in the face of the hateful terror perpetrated against freedom-loving people everywhere.

The Inter-American Democratic Charter represents a new and unprecedented foundation upon which to build a hemisphere that “trades in freedom and grows in prosperity.”

Article One of the Charter concludes : “Democracy is essential for the social, political and economic development of the peoples of the Americas.”

No other region in the world has so explicitly expressed a similar commitment to democracy, and no other region in the world — with the exception of Europe — has institutions such as the OAS or the Summit of the Americas process, where representative democracy is a pre-requisite to participation.

The Democratic Charter has served as the blueprint for OAS action in Venezuela, which I mentioned earlier, and in Haiti. With regard to Haiti, we have worked with our partners in the OAS to create a means by which confidence can be restored in the political process. OAS Resolution 822 is the result of that effort, and the United States encourages all sides in Haiti to follow the way ahead that it has outlined. President Aristide, as the leader of his country, has a unique responsibility to provide the secure environment necessary for free and fair elections, to uphold the rule of law and maintain public safety.

The United States belongs to both Groups of Friends that support and sustain implementation of OAS resolutions in Haiti and Venezuela. In the inter-American community, no country is a disinterested spectator. Any actions that undermine democratic order or that threaten the security and well-being of the region are of legitimate concern to all. We will not let our neighbors down.

The day will come when the Democratic Charter will serve as the blueprint for a new, democratic Cuba, where human rights and freedoms are guaranteed.

Contrary to popular perceptions, the OAS is not only a meeting place for foreign ministers and ambassadors. Ministers of justice, labor, education, and science and technology, to name a few, all meet regularly under the OAS umbrella. For this reason, the OAS is active in implementing a broad range of mandates from the Summit of the Americas process., , The list of recent OAS initiatives to advance the regional agenda of the Summit of the Americas mandates is long and impressive. It includes : the establishment of a follow-up mechanism to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption — talking about corruption in this building ten years ago was something that just wasn’t done — which the U.S. ratified in 2000 ; efforts to resolve long-standing conflicts such as the Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute ; promoting the human rights of women and children ; making progress on a draft declaration on indigenous rights ; implementing a multilateral mechanism to evaluate member states’ efforts to curb drug abuse and narcotics trafficking, another breakthrough ; and promoting confidence- and security-building measures.

The OAS is active in preparing a Summit-mandated conference on hemispheric security, which Mexico will host, that will examine means to strengthen the current security architecture in the Americas and address such non-traditional threats as terrorism and transnational organized crime.

The OAS, as a member of the Tripartite Committee of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, along with the Inter-American Development Bank and ECLAC, is playing a significant role in supporting the creation of the FTAA by 2005 by developing action plans for trade capacity-building in the member states, another Summit mandate.

I might add that the OAS is helping to implement some of the initiatives President Bush announced at the Quebec City Summit, such as the Hemispheric Centers for Excellence in Teacher Training to improve literacy and basic education ; the Inter-American E-Business Fellowship Program, which will give young professionals from throughout the hemisphere the opportunity to learn information technology while working at U.S. companies ; and by providing instruction and U.S. expertise in airport security to the English-speaking Caribbean member states as part of the president’s Caribbean Third-Border Initiative.

That initiative in the Caribbean consists of a targeted package of U.S.-funded programs designed to enhance diplomatic, economic, health, education, civil aviation and law enforcement cooperation. Beyond this initiative, the U.S. is also providing substantial funding to combat HIV/AIDS in the region, under the president’s newly announced HIV/AIDS initiative for Africa and the Caribbean. The United States currently provides $33 million in HIV/AIDS funding to the Caribbean countries, particularly for Haiti and Guyana — two of the hardest-hit countries in the region.

We are looking forward to a Special Summit of the Americas to be held in 2004 in Mexico. The Summit will reaffirm our commitment to the Quebec City Plan of Action and focus on how to make democracy work better. We have proposed the theme of “Creating Opportunity for All,” which encompasses the elements of good governance, economic growth and poverty reduction that the governments have agreed upon. We expect the Special Summit to be brief, businesslike and focused on readily achievable goals within specific timeframes. It will not go into lyrical descriptions of problems we all know about. The focus will be on political will and reform.

Ladies and gentlemen, despite the great strides the region has made in the last two decades, our hemisphere is troubled, and we all know it. Many of the region’s elected leaders confront persistent political, economic and social problems. Millions of our neighbors — too many of them children — lack the basic necessities of life. Economies in the region are not growing fast enough to generate sufficient jobs for growing populations, let alone to address chronic poverty.

Corruption and inefficiency have stunted development and spawned popular discontent. Several countries are threatened by terrorists and other criminal gangs. In some countries, these factors have combined to produce violent outbursts, which new and relatively weak institutions of democratic government are hard-pressed to control.

Over the last two decades the people of the Americas have made enormous progress, but these achievements have not erased the legacy of decades of poverty, corruption, and wrong-headed policies and the work of, in some cases, wrong-headed leaders.

The levers for removing these remaining obstacles are in our neighbors’ hands. But let there be no doubt that U.S. leadership will be critical in helping our friends in the region overcome these challenges.

We can do this by working with our partners in the Summit of the Americas process and the OAS to help make democratic government serve every citizen better. We must continue to advocate policies that have a proven record of success : free-market reform, respect for the rule of law, the right to property, and sound macro-economic principles.

President Bush’s Millennium Challenge Account, announced last year — now in the Congress, in conjunction with the U.N. Special Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, will be a powerful tool and incentive. Its three-pronged approach ties development grant aid to the poorest countries to : (1) good governance — that is, fighting corruption, promoting transparency and rewarding accountability, (2) investment in people, especially in the fields of health and education, and (3) instituting sound macro-economic policies and reforms. Starting with the poorest countries around the world — and that includes the poorest countries of this hemisphere — countries that fulfill these criteria will benefit from the 50-percent increase in U.S. assistance in the Millennium Challenge Account, growing from $10 billion to $15 billion a year.

The Organization of American States has never been more relevant in addressing key hemispheric concerns than it is today. Armed with the Democratic Charter and responsive to our heads of state and government who meet regularly at the Summits of the Americas, the OAS is poised to meet the challenges ahead.

We recognize the problems ; we’ve got the tools ; we have a U.S. Administration that recognizes the importance of this hemisphere, which the president rightly calls “the neighborhood.”

There is a huge amount of work to do, but the path ahead is clear. Now, we all need to bring into this mix the political will and, country by country, the leadership necessary to make the tough decisions and move ahead.

Thank you very much.

(end transcript)




Maisto, John F. Ambassador, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States Term of Appointment : 07/31/2003 to present

Ambassador John F. Maisto was nominated by President George W. Bush to be U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States on March 25, 2003. He was sworn in on July 31, 2003. He was named U.S. Coordinator for the Summit of the Americas on July 18, 2003.

Ambassador Maisto served as Special Assistant to President Bush and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs for National Secretary Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice from January 2001 to April 2003.

Ambassador Maisto was Ambassador to Venezuela from 1997 – 2000, and served as Foreign Policy Advisor at the U.S. Southern Command in 2000-01. He previously served as Ambassador to Nicaragua from 1993-96. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central American Affairs, 1992-93 ; and Deputy U.S. Representative to the Organization of American States, 1989-92. Earlier, he served in Panama as Deputy Chief of Mission, as Director of the State Department’s Office of Philippine Affairs, and at American Embassies in Manila, San Jose, and La Paz. He was in the U.S. Information Agency in Argentina and Bolivia. He began his career as a Foreign Service Officer in 1968.

A native of Braddock, Pennsylvania, Ambassador Maisto has a B.S. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a M.A. from the University of San Carlos, Guatemala. He and his wife, Maria Consuelo Gaston Maisto, have one son and two daughters. [End]

Released on July 31, 2003