Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


October 19, 2021 - Washington, DC

Mr. President of the Development Bank of Latin America-CAF, Sergio Díaz-Granados, Mr. President of the Inter-American Dialogue, Michael Shifter, as well as all the panelists and attendees, in person and virtually:

It is gratifying for me to participate in the opening of this event that has been carried out, with great success, for the last twenty-five years. We at the OAS are very proud to be part of this alliance in which our three institutions come together to promote and understand the main issues that affect the Americas.

This year, this meeting marks several important milestones. Not only is it the twenty-fifth anniversary of the meeting, which is why we congratulate Enrique García for his initiative, together with Peter Hakim, at the time President of the Inter-American Dialogue, and the then-Secretary General of the OAS, César Gaviria. We also welcome the new President of CAF, Sergio Díaz-Granados.

Sergio, we wish you great success in your new role, at a time when our region needs the financial support of an institution as serious and solid as CAF more than ever. We are convinced your work plan and your vision for the future of the institution will bring stability and a steady hand at the head of the bank. You know that you have our full support and we hope to continue developing joint projects for the benefit of Latin America and the Caribbean.

On the other hand, this will be the last year in which Michael Shifter is present at this event as President of the Inter-American Dialogue. Michael, you have our congratulations and permanent thanks, for your work as President of the Dialogue, also for your role as the driver of the annual success of this event, for your friendship.

With respect to the OAS, I want to tell you that a little more than a month ago we commemorated twenty years since the signing of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The Charter, which I see as a Constitution for the Americas, has played an important role in the preservation and defense of democracy in the region.

A couple of weeks ago, thanks to the invitation of the Inter-American Dialogue, I participated in a panel on this topic. I had the opportunity to express my conviction that current setbacks in terms of democracy in the region cannot be attributed to the Charter. On the contrary, we must strengthen the application of the Charter.

Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has left us with surging levels of poverty and inequality that we must overcome as soon as possible. This is where multilateral organizations, as in the case of the OAS and CAF, among others, are contributing our knowledge, experience and resources to help in this urgent task.

Inequality is the cause and the consequence of several problems that affect our countries these days and that will be addressed in this event.

The uneven recovery post COVID-19 is related to the previous inequality between countries and within countries. The vulnerable will emerge from the pandemic even more vulnerable and those with more capabilities have more resources to recover faster.

Inequality within countries fuels political polarization while resulting in the failures of political and economic institutions.

Inequality between countries will not allow us to face the challenges of climate change or achieve sustainable development goals in an equitable manner - education, security.

The international community needs to rise to the challenge of inequality, of the gap between the vulnerable and those with more capacities and of the vicious circles between countries and within the countries that reproduce and increase these gaps and consequently inequalities.

On the other hand, given difficulties in holding face-to-face meetings in 2021, the United States will hold the nineteenth Summit of the Americas next year, twenty-eight years after the first Summit was held in this country in 1994. It will be a very important moment for the region and as the OAS, we will be there not only in our capacity as technical secretariat, but also as a contributor of ideas and proposals to achieve improvements in the region.

To conclude, once again I want to thank Sergio and Michael, as well as their teams, for their excellent work in continuing to carry out this event in the midst of the difficulties of virtuality. I can assure you that next year we hope to have you again, as usual, at the cocktail offered in the Patio Azteca of our Casa de las Americas.

Thank you.