Facebook Live: Recap of the 2018 Summit of the Americas

Elizabeth Fitzsimmons
Acting Deputy Department Spokesperson
Carlos Trujillo, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States
Washington, DC
April 20, 2018

MS. ELIZABETH FITZSIMMONS: Good morning from the State Department. I'm delighted to be here this morning with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, who is the U.S. Ambassador-- the permanent representative to the Organization of American States. It's a position he's just assumed in the last few weeks. Ambassador, good morning. Could you start by telling our audience about the Organization of American States, what it does, and what the U.S. role there is?

AMBASSADOR CARLOS TRUJILLO: Good morning. It's great to be here. The OAS, as it's affectionately called, is the multilateral organization for the Western hemisphere.

So all the states from Canada, all the way down through Central South America and the Caribbean all participate, except for the exceptions except for Cuba. And the purpose is similar to the UN. It's a platform for people to express ideas, concerns, and work towards achieving some of the pillars that are important to the United States and to the organization-- mainly, democracy, human rights, and security.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Fantastic, and I know you've just come from the OAS Summit in Lima, Peru. I understand that the theme of that summit was corruption. That theme was chosen by the Peruvian government, the hosts. Can you talk about why they chose corruption as a theme and why that's important to our viewers and to our U.S. audience?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: Yeah, it's an epidemic that affects the region, and I think some of the concerns for the United States is always domestic security. And the State Department's in a great position to help advance that objective. But when you have massive corruption, as we've experienced, and the perfect point is in Venezuela or Brazil, it leads to massive migration. People have no faith in their democratic institutions.

They have an inability to live normal lives, productive lives, and they have to immigrate to surrounding neighboring countries or to the United States and seek a refuge. And it really is a tragedy. I think corruption is the epidemic or the pill that kills democracy because once you have a corrupt government, it's very hard for people, especially in unstable democracies, to believe in a democratic system that we all value.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Right, that connection between corruption and migration is a really critical one, and I'd like to talk a little bit more about that. I want to welcome viewers who are just joining us. We're here at the State Department, speaking live with U.S. Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, who is that permanent representative of the United States to the OAS, our affectionate nickname for the Organization of American States. And the ambassador was just talking about the critical link between corruption and migration.

Obviously, our viewers are familiar with the humanitarian crisis that's going on in Venezuela right now. This seems clearly a manmade crisis caused by the poor governance of President Maduro. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about U.S. assistance to those displaced populations, particularly Venezuelan refugees.

What's the U.S. government doing to assist? What would you like us to do more of? And how would you like to see our policy move?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: Well, one thing that the U.S. government is doing is putting financial assistance, I think is the most important to some of the neighboring countries that have been generous enough to accept some of the migrants. We've put somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 million. I don't think it's the end of the U.S. commitment to the migrants that find themselves in difficult times immigrating to Colombia or some of the neighboring countries.

And I think one thing that the United States has been committed to for a long time is actual humanitarian assistance on the ground. We're willing to work with the Red Cross or any other neighboring organization in order to bring real humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people. Unfortunately, the Maduro regime doesn't acknowledge that there's even a humanitarian crisis and hasn't allowed these international organizations to come into Venezuela and provide just basic necessities, food, toilet paper, medicine, water-- some of the most basic necessities that you can't find them Venezuela. They're nonexistent in the grocery stores. They're nonexistent in the entire country.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Wow, that sounds like a terrible situation. How would you like to see the U.S. policy move to influence Maduro to open up to more humanitarian assistance? Do you have plans that you can talk to our viewers about?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: I think one thing that we discussed at the summit is really platforms like this. I think social media platforms. I'm sure that people in Venezuela right now are watching this who probably had absolutely no idea that the United States and the international community is willing to stand with Venezuelan people, not with the regime. And we're willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that they have just basic humanitarian rights. That the United States people are generously willing to donate.

So I think that this is an important platform in order to advance that objective. And I think it's also the regional pressure. Colombia and Ecuador and the United States and Chile, the Caribbean-- they deal with the outfall of these governments.

So as generous as they are, now you have 20 or 50 or 100,000 people who show up in your country, and you have to provide housing and food and shelter and educational resources for their children. Those are huge financial strains on their economies. And that's something that we have to recognize.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Absolutely. And a special welcome to our viewers who may be joining us from Venezuela. We'd really love to hear from you. The ambassador is looking forward to taking your questions.

So wherever you're watching from, we're delighted to have you. We're here at the State Department live. A special welcome to those of you who've just joined us in the last few minutes. We're here with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. permanent representative to the Organization of American States.

And ambassador, I wanted to ask you when you talk about the region. We've obviously seen a lot of news recently about Cuba. I was wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about the changes that are occurring there, what path you'd like to see the new President Diaz-Canel take for Cuba, and how the U.S. looks at our neighbor to the south.

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: I think there's really no changes. They're changing one person for another. But really the systematic failures of the Cuban regime continued to be ever so present. One thing that I think the American public would like to see, and I think there's different agreements disagreements on how to accomplish it.

But I think the one thing that's extremely important to Americans is the democratic transition of power in Cuba and the respect for human rights, the liberation of political prisoners, and open and free fair elections. I think that's one thing that's necessary in order for Cuba to be welcomed into the international community, and it's more than, I think, extremely necessary for the Cuban people. Imagine, it's been 60 years. Imagine, anybody born after 1959 has never voted, has never participated in a free election, has never been able to profess their faith, has never been able to protest, has never been able to do so many things that us in the United States take for granted.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: So many things that we and all of our viewers take for granted. I think those are incredibly important connections the way diplomacy actually affects the lives of daily people makes an enormous difference. Vice President Pence, I noticed when he was in Lima, made a point of meeting with the Cuban civil society activists. Why is that important, and what else is the United States doing directly to support civil society activists in Cuba?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: I think it was one of the moments that I was most proud of is meeting with all the different civil society members, seeing the Vice President, seeing or acting Secretary Sullivan, seeing the amount of American commitment to the Cuban people. We oftentimes don't differentiate between the Cuban government and the Cuban people. But these are the people who live in an oppressive government. These are people that have the courage to speak out against their government inside of Cuba, travel internationally knowing that their husbands and their wives, their children, and their parents are in the island. I think the amount of courage that it takes to do that, and then they return home and have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

But our support-- and one thing that I saw in speaking with some of the civil society that the Vice President being so gracious with his time or acting Secretary being so gracious with their time. That support is what reinvigorates them. That's the support that wants him to march forward. So it's not only the wars but also the actions of taking time. And it also gives us real information of what the conditions are really like.

The Castro regime does a great job of trying to protect, and conceal the situation in Cuba. But when you speak to a lady who, on her way to the airport, was harassed, intimidated, and beaten, when you speak to a 27-year-old artist, who spent 10 months being tortured for absolutely no reason with absolutely no due process for just coming out and celebrating the death of a tyrannical dictator and Fidel Castro, that's what really you start seeing the difficulties and the struggles of the Cuban people.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Absolutely. Thank you for those examples. I think that's what really connects the work you're doing personally with our viewers. Again, welcome. We're here at the State Department with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo.

Thank you to those of you who have just joined us. We have a question now from Aaron Fisher, one of our viewers, good morning, Aaron and thank you for writing in. Aaron wants to take you back to Venezuela for a moment and ask, does the U.S. Government continue to recognize Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela-- a very timely and topical question?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: And that's an excellent, excellent question, and he's not. I think Presidents are elected. Leaders are elected. Leaders participate in democratic process. What they are doing now on May 20 is trying to rubber stamp illegal, illegitimate election.

And one thing that I was very proud of, besides the United States' position, was seeing all of our friends in the region-- seeing the Columbia and the Chileans and a lot of our friends come out and say, we will not recognize fake phantom illegitimate elections, and we will not recognize those governments. And I think that's the proper position for the international community. We're all defenders and fighters for democracy and for human rights. And once they're violated, we absolutely have a moral and ethical obligation to no longer accept that.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Absolutely, and what would your message be if President Maduro were on Facebook this morning watching with us, what would you want to say to him?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: Just free your people. I think at some point, you have to have some compassion. You have to have a heart.

Reading some of the stories-- flamingos are disappearing from the Caracas zoo. And it's not because they're migrating. It's because they're being eaten.

Just think of the desperation for a human being to actually kill a flamingo and eat them in order to feed their family. Imagine being a mother with a child who has diabetes and an inability to find insulin. Imagine being a senior that needs blood pressure medication. You can't find it.

I think just any person with a little bit of compassion, just free your people-- allow them to live a dignified life, allow them to participate in a democratic process, allow them to elect their leader, and have free and fair elections. And maybe you might win and maybe you won't. But let your people decide in the direction that they want to go in.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Such a powerful message. For our viewers this morning, we're here live at the State Department with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo who really has a strong message, both to the government of Venezuela and to its people, asking the president to free his people and offering our viewers some powerful examples of the cost-- the human cost-- of the terrible policies of the Maduro regime. Following along on that theme, we hear from Julio McCray. Thank you very much, Julio, for your question.

Does the ambassador do you foresee the U.S. leading efforts to encourage more active economic and political integration of the Americas? And I think is that one of the goals of the OAS? Can you talk a little bit more about how the U.S. might support greater economic and political integration across the Americas?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: And that's a great question, Julio, because I think they go hand in hand. An economically strong Americas, whether it's the Bahamas, Chile, Peru, Argentina. When their economies do well, when the Northern Triangle does well, America does well. They're great trade partners. They really help our economy.

We reciprocate and help their economy through trade. And also stable economies lead to people being happy and prosperous in their own homelands. I think some of the migratory issues that we've seen and some of the demands on resources-- when people are happy, when people are prosperous, when they can participate in democracy, when they could educate their children, when they could participate in the health care system, when they have economic opportunity, why would you leave?

And I think that's what a lot of people come to the United States looking for. So I think the political message is political stability leads to economic prosperity, and there's no more better shining example than the United States of America. I think part of our economic prosperity has been our political stability.

Regardless of whether it's President Obama, President Bush, or President Clinton, that transition of power-- at no point do the markets question whether it will be peaceful, whether it will even occur. And I think that transition has to start becoming the norm all over the region.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Fantastic. Thank you for that. Viewers, we're here live at the State Department. Thank you to those of you who have just joined us in the last few minutes.

Ambassador Trujillo was speaking about economic prosperity and the positive effect on countries throughout the hemisphere. I think there's an interesting connection. I know we saw Special Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump during the OAS Summit focusing her participation on women's economic empowerment. This is a theme we've seen the special advisor emphasize in many of her overseas engagements.

Why is that important in the OAS in the Western hemisphere? And why is it important to the United States?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: I think it's extremely important to the United States. Women, especially in the hemisphere, have so much to contribute. And I think their contributions have not come to fruition based on poor policy and seeing Special Advisor Ivanka Trump bring forth those policies, give them an avenue, with the United States support, giving them microloans, giving an ability to leverage capital, giving ability to access capital in order to start their businesses-- whatever they may be. That's the quickest way to grow those economies.

Imagine having an economy where only 50% of the people are allowed to participate, and now you open it up to the other 50% that are just as talented, if not more talented. And that are just as committed and that want to work hard and we give them an avenue in order to do so, I think that's a way to have a prosperous America.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Do you think that your other partners at the OAS-- that is, your other permanent representative colleagues-- share that view? And should we expect to see any women's empowerment programs coming from other countries that are OAS member states?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: You know, I think for them, it's an issue of resource. I think they really support the American mission. I really think they support women's rights. I think they're all marching in that direction. But now it's an issue of resources.

The Americas talking the lead, the United States of America taking the lead, putting in $150 million in order to start that initiative. I think it will lead to more collaboration throughout the region. I think it will lead to a lot of governments introspectively looking in and saying, is this something we need to participate in and how do we find the resources in order to do so? So I'm hopeful that it's the beginning of a great prosperous event and marching forward throughout the region.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: That makes total sense. Thank you for sharing that. I know for our viewers who have just joined us, we're here live at the State Department. Good morning and I'm honored to have the chance to speak with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. permanent representative to the Organization of American States, or OAS, as we like to call them.

And I know that given all the positive things we've talked about in the region, one issue for many of our viewers in the United States will be the questions about transnational crime and how the OAS and the United States are working with countries in the Hemisphere to battle transnational crime. Can you talk a little bit about that problem and its solutions for us?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: I think it's a real problem. We saw it recently in the Colombian Ecuadorian border, where transnational criminal organizations are capturing journalists and killing them for absolutely no reason. They're capturing civilians and holding them hostage, and these organizations just proliferate. We're talking about corruption. These organizations lead to corrupting governments and to them being in power in order to torture and terrorize people throughout the region.

So I think the United States has a strong commitment and the best way that we could help combat transnational crime is not only through our own resources, through defense, and other agencies, but also in capacity building. Going to Honduras or going to El Salvador, going to Guatemala, or going to Colombia and helping them in training their military and training their police in order to combat some of these transnational organizations and allow them through our training and through our mentorship to be able to do it on their own grounds. And I think that's an American commitment. I think that's a State Department commitment. And I think it's been very, very successful throughout our history.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: I think one thing ambassador that might be interesting to our viewers is when there's a large summit like the OAS Summit that just happened in Lima, Peru, there are obviously chances not only to meet as a large group of OAS member state representatives but also chances for smaller conversations, what we in the diplomatic field called bilateral meetings or pull asides. I was wondering if you could talk about as a diplomat, the way that you use those different opportunities to either talk to a large group of your colleagues or to talk in one on one settings, what kinds of issues you think you might make progress? Or if you want to give us some great examples of places that you did make progress while you're at the OAS Summit-- either in the larger forum or in these one on one discussions?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: I think it's a large region, and there's a lot of people participating. But in the pull asides or in the small bilateral meetings, it's really an opportunity to hear what are the things that affect some of our neighbors, what are the things that affect some of our friends in the region from their perspective because sometimes, our perception of what they really need might not be what they really want.

So one example that was very successful was a meeting that we had with acting Secretary Sullivan and with acting Deputy Secretary Paco Palmieri with the Caribbean leaders of USA, USAID, Administrator Green was there. And really being able to sit down with them and hear what are their concerns and their concerns from our perspective-- at least from mine being an outsider-- is oh, they just want American help, or they want American money. But really, their concerns are more concerns that we all share in the region-- hurricane preparedness, hardening of infrastructure, development of energy, developing of renewable clean energy, and how could we all work together in order to accomplish those goals. So I think those meetings are very powerful because it gives you the personal perspective of meeting with a high level official. And these are the things that really concern his constituency and our ability to work and coordinate and use our resources in order to help them achieve those goals.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: That makes sense. For those of you just joining us, hi, we're here live at the State Department with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. permanent representative to the Organization of the American States. We'd love to hear directly from you and take your questions, particularly if you're someone who is watching this from Cuba or from Venezuela or one of the other countries we've talked about. We'd love to hear from some of you in Mexico.

So please don't be shy. Chime in, give us the your questions for the ambassador. We've talked recently a lot about sort of the formal pieces of diplomacy and the summit that you recently were at. I think our viewers would be really interested in your personal background.

One of the things I've always found inspiring in the United States as a diplomat is that my colleagues come from all backgrounds, all walks of life, and we work together to support the United States and do our best for our country. Could you talk to our viewers a little bit about your personal background and how you came to be in this august position?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: So I was selected by the President. And fortunately, I was confirmed by the United States Senate a few months ago, a month and a half ago. But my background-- personally, I was raised in Miami Dade County, Florida. Cuban parents that immigrated here as young children to the United States in search of opportunity.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the first members of my family to go to college and the first one to graduate from law school. And the first job that I had done in Miami was I was a prosecutor for four years trying cases from DUIs all the way to murders. And I did that for four years. And I decided to run for the state House and spend eight years serving the people of the state of Florida as their state representative for the 105th district. And I was fortunate enough my last two years to chair the state budget, and I was responsible for the appropriation of roughly $87 billion dollars.

And never in my wildest dreams would I would've seen myself in this position working for the State Department or working with diplomacy, but I think that's what makes the State Department so great. You walk around this building, and every single person has your unique story, and none of them are rubber stamp of the other. They all bring their individual perspectives, and I think these perspectives is what allows us to communicate, what allows us to understand a lot of the issues that face not only the United States but the entire region and the entire world. And I think that diversity of being able to speak to somebody who really has a keen understanding of Argentina, has a key understanding of what's happening in Africa really makes us much more powerful as a country.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: And that's a perfect segue to this great question that we've gotten from Carlos. Good morning, Carlos. Thank you for your question. Do you feel that the United States has a responsibility to aid the countries of American States, which have failed their own people? So a very powerful question from Carlos.

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: Thank you, Carlos. I think that's a very, very deep question. I think any aid that we do has to advance our American agenda. First and foremost, we have a commitment to the American people. And I think the reason we'd engage in diplomacy-- whatever we engage in is really in the advancement of the agenda of the American people, in the advancement of the security and stability of the United States of America.

So I think aid is a very, very valuable component if it meets those objectives. If the aid we are providing is in the advancement of the interest of the American people, it's a great use. And if it's not, it's something that we have to discontinue.

So first and foremost, we're Americans. We're proud of our country, and our loyalties and our allegiance lie only to her. In advancement of that agenda, I think we're happy to provide aid. I think we're the most generous country in the world in providing aid. And in order to do so, it has to be people that really philosophically support the American ideas.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: We've had just a very interesting question. Thank you for that, Ambassador. And welcome to the viewers who are just joining us. Max Bone is asking us what is the U.S. view on China in the region? Is it a threat to the regional democratic order? So I'm going to take you a little bit out of the hemisphere, and now we're going to talk about global geopolitics.

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: Thank you, Max. I think one thing that's important in speaking to some of my colleagues across the region really is the Chinese influence in the region. They go into Nicaragua. They're trying to build a competitor to the Panama Canal. And one thing that speaking to a Uruguayan ambassador that they were concerned is they start controlling the means of production.

So now they control your infrastructure, and they start controlling your telecommunications. And they start controlling your energy production. By the time you know it, they control your government. They control your country.

So I think Chinese intervention in the region is real. I think that we have a duty to make sure that we are a good alternative, and that the region sees us as a good friend, as a good partner that's not trying to take over their sovereignty but rather work in conjunction with them in order to advance it.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Fantastic. We have now a question from Armando Ibarra. Thank you, Armando, and good morning. Armando asks us what happened at the Civil Society Summit? And asks who the Cuban civil society leader that Vice President Pence met with-- did you get to meet with this person?

I don't want to push you on that because obviously, we're not going to talk about and disclose the content of private diplomatic discourse, but I think there's a real interest from our audience in more details about the Civil Society Summit and those meetings. So if you can talk a little bit about that and then maybe expand to regionally, what our interest is in meeting with civil society leaders. I think that would be a real interest to our viewers.

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: Thank you, Armando. Well, the Civil Society Summit, I thought was very, very successful. It's an opportunity for those people watching at home.

Civil society or the non-government-- they're supposed to be non-government organizations that come in order to advocate for their views. And a lot of them are coming obviously from Cuba and from Venezuela. And they're political or economic or cultural minorities that come and advance their interests and come and speak on behalf of some of the issues that might be affecting them in their homeland.

So the Civil Society Summit started off in Peru, and Peru invited a lot of the groups. One thing, unfortunately, that occurred is that the Cuban government brought about 50 people that were actual Cuban government, military, or activists. And their entire goal when they showed up to civil society was to intimidate, harass, and to take over the meeting to the point that they just started yelling and chanting insults at the United States, insults at the Secretary General, insults particularly at a lady by the name of Rosa Maria Paya. And her father was murdered by the Castro regime.

She's an activist that's trying to advocate for change in Cuba, for democratic change, for peaceful transition of power. She's, you know, a younger lady. They probably had 50 or 60 militarily trained people yelling insults and profanities at her, trying to harass and intimidate her. And their entire goal to disrupt was not only to disrupt the civil society and not allow democratic conversation to take place but also to harass and intimidate her and remove her from the meeting. They weren't successful in their efforts.

She was able to speak to the elected leaders of the region. Her testimony was very, very powerful on the personal tragedy that she experienced with the murder of her father, and she had an opportunity to speak to the Vice President of the United States, to acting Secretary Sullivan, to the Secretary General Luis Almagro. And her message is very strong-- the Cuban people. And she's a younger person.

What they want is democratic change. They want opportunity. They want to be able to participate in a real fair just democratic process.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Makes total sense. Good morning to the viewers who are joining us. We're live at the State Department with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo-- the newly appointed. He said a month and a half ago, he presented his credentials-- the United States permanent representative to the Organization of the American States.

We've been jumping all over the hemisphere from Venezuela to Cuba to Peru, talking about both the large issues of the OAS and then some of the smaller issues. Really, the ambassador's given us some fantastic examples of the effect of poor governance on the lives of individuals and the challenges and opportunities facing the hemisphere. I was wondering if we could return for a minute to the question of economics and how your partner ambassadors in the OAS feel about President Trump's America First foreign policy, how they feel about that economically, and what opportunities that we can create together between the United States and these partner states to lift all of our citizenry economically?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: And I think that's a great question. President Trump and the American people-- it's America First but not America only. And Vice President Pence said that in his speech, it's really strong America, strong region, a strong Latin America creates a great, prosperous Western hemisphere. So I think those opportunities really are affinity or loyalty lies the American people, but the American people working with our Mexican counterparts, our Canadian counterparts. And renegotiating a fair and balanced NAFTA advances not only our agenda but the entire region.

The American people the American government working throughout the region and figuring out ways in which we can engage in fair and balanced trade that benefits both recipients of the Americas and the United States of America and other countries. I think it's an advancement of the American people. So one of the strongest message at that summit was Vice President Trump inviting people to join the American platform, inviting people to advance with America, to be part of the solution, to work towards free and fair trade, and to work towards a prosperous region.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Good morning, viewers. Again, we're live at the State Department with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo. We just have time for a couple of other questions. We'd love to hear anything that you can share with us from the region, your perspective. I'm wondering if ambassador, you would be willing to give our viewers a little insight into any moments that really stood out for you in Lima, any elements of the summit that you thought were particularly meaningful to you, or any little funny inside color that you can offer our viewers? I think it's just really wonderful that we can connect people as individuals, rather than just having a summit, which can seem really bureaucratic to a lot of our viewers.

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: So I think two things that personally stuck out to me. Number one, was I was able fortunate enough to sit next to the Vice President as he delivered his remarks. And he gave an exceptional speech and was very powerful and very moving through all the other leaders in the room. And seeing the Vice President, the presence, and the command and the respect that as a representative of the United States, as one of the highest ranking members in the United States, he commanded in the room, was humbling and honoring as an American to be there.

But more importantly, seeing the reaction from some of our unlike minded countries, from the Cubans and the Bolivians, watching their faces, as they have to accept the truth of the reality, that they're tyrannical governments, that they oppress their people, that they can't participate in any real democratic forms, and seeing the Cubans try to respond to the Vice President. The Vice President look at him square in the face and just standing up and walking out of the room and continuing at his business. It gave him the response that he so deserves.

The United States is above that. We're not going to get down into a shouting match or into insults. We're going to speak the truth, and we're going to march forward. And I thought it was a very strong message for everybody in the room. But more importantly, for all the other leaders in the world knowing the American position.

Another story that personally struck me. One of my high school teachers was actually a civil society leader, and he flew in from Miami American citizen to Lima in order to advocate on behalf of political prisoners in Cuba. And this person was accosted at the airport, and they put him on a list of people persona non grata from the Cuban government. And for four hours, him and his counterpartners, a 70-year-old lady were held in a private room without chairs and harassed and intimidated at the behest of the Cuban government.

And as difficult as their time there was, I think their message was one of resilience, in that which they told me-- they told me, you know, one thing that's great is that we are winning. We really are winning if they are so concerned about a college professor and a community activist coming to Lima to speak the truth, coming to Lima to speak on behalf of human rights. We were definitely advancing an agenda, and we're definitely making inroads inside of the island. So those were two personal stories that were very moving to me personally as a first time attendee of the summit.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Thanks for sharing those ambassador viewers. We just have time for one more question with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, who has very generously shared some of his really personal and very moving insights from the recent Organization of the Americas Summit in Lima, Peru. I wanted to ask, sir, if we come back-- and I hope we can do this again a year from now-- what would you like to see, what kind of changes or advancements in U.S. Policy or in the OAS, more generally? What do you wish for the region, when we have this conversation a year from now?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: I think one of my commitments to the OAS besides the managerial, making sure that they're efficient and meeting the needs of the region and that the American taxpayers are getting a good return on their investment. I think more importantly is that the OAS lives by its charter. If the OAS is an organization that advances democracy and human rights and prosperity and security in the region, that every single member in that organization is committed towards that cause. I think the only way for the organization to have true credibility in the eyes of Americans and in the eyes of democratic loving people in the region is if they really have a philosophical, fundamental commitment to that cause. And my goal is to continue to advocate for it that.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Makes total sense. OAS representatives, colleagues, I hope you all heard that. We've got time. I think just about 30 more seconds.

So I'll just ask you if you can, we had a question again from one of our viewers-- and thank you, viewers. We love the interactivity of this. What has surprised you most in the transition from being a state lawmaker to now being an ambassador and the U.S. Representative to the OAS?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: You know, I think the complexity. They're both democratic bodies, and you have to build relationships, build consensus in order to advance an agenda. But at the OAS and just in government in general, it's just such a complex system-- just because you have a great idea or you think great idea should advance. You have to get buy-in within your government, across inner agencies, and then also get buy-in from some of your colleagues, and all of their corresponding government agencies in order to advance an idea. And I think it's great because I think that process makes these ideas stronger. Sometimes, I think it might be a little bit slow, but I'm new at this. But I really think that communication and that dialogue puts forth some of the best ideas that could possibly be accomplished.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: Well, I think our viewers will never believe you're new at this, given the tour that you've given us of the hemisphere and also dealing with the larger geopolitics. Are there any messages that you'd like to offer in our last few seconds to the people of Cuba, particularly-- both given your position now and your personal history there on the island? Is there anything, if we have Cuban viewers, that you'd like to share with them?

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: My advice to them is to stay strong. I think the Vice President recently, just today, tweeted that the American people are committed to standing with the Cuban people. We're committed to making sure that they have free and fair elections, that they can participate in a political process, that political prisoners are freed, and that people aren't just tortured and beaten arbitrarily. Or they're never tortured and beaten at all, that they're afforded due process.

So I think that's a message to the Cuban people. Change from Cuba is definitely going to come from within, and they're going to be the change agents the civil society that make that change happen.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: And you just referred actually to the tweet that we had from Vice President Mike Pence this morning. For viewers who haven't seen that, I can share that with you. Hey, Raul, it looks like you're the one leaving, and we're here standing with the Cuban people. And we're not going anywhere until Cuba has free and fair elections.

Political prisoners are released, and the people of Cuba are finally free with the hashtag #cubalibre. So we heard now both from Vice President Pence and from our ambassador to the organization of the American states-- really delivering a clear message to the Cuban people and to the Cuban government. Any final comments that you'd like to share with, Ambassador, before our viewers sign off? Again, we're here with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo the ambassador to the Organization of American States, who's sharing his insights about diplomacy and about the recent OAS Summit in Lima, Peru.

AMBASSADOR TRUJILLO: You know, as I approach the third or fourth week on the job, it's really been the greatest honor in my life to serve my country in this capacity. I'm very thankful to the President for appointing me, for all the people that supported me and building me up to get to this position. I look forward to serving my country, as long as I can.

MS. FITZSIMMONS: That's a fantastic message to close out with. Viewers, we always love having you here at the State Department with us for these Facebook Lives. Please do follow us on Facebook.

We hope that we'll have more opportunities to talk not only with Ambassador Carlos Trujillo the ambassador from the Organization of the American States. I'm sorry, the ambassador of the United States to the Organization of American States. I think I need a little more coffee this morning.

And we're really delighted to have a chance to talk to him this morning. Hope that we'll be able to return to the studio on a future occasion. But please do follow us so that you have a chance to talk to other senior diplomats who join us here at the State Department on Facebook Live.