Secretary Clinton: Thank you very much for the your excellent questions sent during my recent trip to Latin America and the Caribbean. Listed below are my responses to questions that represent the important issues you raised.
Richard from New York asks:
How do you intend to confirm the United States’ support for responsible development in the Caribbean when you speak with CARICOM ministers in Bridgetown?
Thank you for that important question. I spoke about this issue after meeting with Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer.
Last month, President Obama signed into law a 10-year extension of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, which has helped to create jobs by expanding access to U.S. markets. He also signed the Haiti Economic Lift Program to support exports from Haiti that will create jobs and opportunities and is a further indicator of our deep commitment to the people of Haiti as they rebuild.
But we are well aware that the global economic downturn has hit a number of our friends in the Caribbean especially hard. It has been a very difficult time because, of course, most of these island nations rely on tourism – if not their biggest form of income and economic activity, certainly among them. And as both the United States and Europe suffered from the economic downturn, so did tourism to these beautiful nations.
Overall, the United States supports responsible development in this region but understands that development will not come easily.
Noel from Amsterdam asks:
Could the Secretary of State inform us on the issues that will be closest to her interest...while in Lima, Peru attending the 40th General Assembly of the Organisation of American States OAS?
I went to the OAS to discuss peace, security, and cooperation, and I commended the hosts for setting an agenda that speaks to our shared vision. We share the goals of expanding social inclusion and economic opportunity; of ensuring the safety of our citizens; of securing clean sources of energy and protecting our environment; of building effective institutions of democratic governance and accountability, while preserving and strengthening our heritage of pluralism, tolerance, and diversity. These are tremendous advantages and will become more so as this century progresses.
We are committed to strengthening our hemisphere’s mechanisms for collectively resolving disputes and for further fostering the conditions of sustained peace. And thanks to the reduction of interstate tensions in the Americas, we can look for ways to reduce excessive weapons expenditures, free up resources to enhance our economic competitiveness, and expand opportunities. Each of us has an obligation and responsibility to meet the needs of our citizens, but we also all face transnational challenges that demand international collaboration and partnership.
We believe it is in the national interest of the United States and of every nation in our hemisphere to promote pragmatic and productive collaboration among members of the community of the Americas. Multilateral organizations, and indeed partnerships of any kind, are useful when they make a real difference in the lives of our peoples. And under President Obama’s leadership, we have reengaged with robust multilateral diplomacy, and we support the Organization of American States as the foremost multilateral organization of the hemisphere. The OAS’s goals of strengthening democratic institutions, safeguarding human rights, promoting inclusive development, and enhancing multidimensional security are more important than ever. And mechanisms established by the OAS, such as the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, provide critical tools to help improve governance and respect for human rights.
We believe it is possible to build a stronger, more vibrant, more effective OAS that both serves the interests of member states and has the capacity and will to tackle regional challenges and prevent crises before they arise. We also need to refocus the institution on its core mission of advancing strong democratic institutions that foster peace, citizen security, and opportunity for all. And we must work together to reform the OAS budget and take responsibility. It is time to move ahead with implementing the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The United States will work with member states to jointly develop a collaborative Plan of Action to guide implementation, and we hope to see this plan adopted in time for the 10th anniversary of the Charter in September 2011.
Gino from Washington, DC asks:
Thank you for your interest and your question. The United States values our relationship with Ecuador. In many ways, our countries share similar values and common interests, including with respect to trade, investment, security for our people, and a mutual commitment to the environment. I would like to commend President Correa for Ecuador’s leadership of UNASUR, especially in the aftermath of the earthquake in Chile and the devastation in Haiti. The people of the United States and Ecuador share many common aspirations. Like any two countries, we sometimes disagree. But we are committed to a partnership of dialogue and cooperation that is rooted in mutual respect and mutual interest for the benefit of both of our peoples.