Today, Secretary Clinton launched the first in a series of diplomacy briefings at the U.S. Department of State and spoke about U.S. relations with Latin America. The Secretary said:
"We have, more than ever in today’s world, the chance to cooperate, collaborate, and innovate. It’s why the United States is committed to building what I’ve called a new architecture of cooperation, one where we leverage all the tools at our disposal, our diplomacy, our development efforts, civil society, the private sector, through crosscutting partnerships that are really necessary if we’re going to address and hopefully solve the complex problems we confront.
Now if you look at this hemisphere, particularly Latin America, we see a lot of positive trends – from rising wages to higher school enrollments to better health. But there remains a huge reservoir of potential that needs to be tapped to continue building on this progress over the years and decades to come, and we want to do a better job of partnering with friends and allies in the region.
As you know, here at the State Department, we are elevating diplomacy and development to be on the same level when we talk about our foreign policy and our national security with defense – it’s the three Ds. It’s part of a smart power approach that we are committed to. It begins with engaging in more robust diplomacy, both with and beyond governments. We have also a real commitment to making sure that development is always in our conversation, always in our mind, and always at the head of our priority list.
Now, we’ve been working in a number of areas, and I want briefly just to mention some. Some have tested our partnership and our approach over the last few months. Some are innovative new ways of bringing people together. Let’s start with Honduras. We have worked with a number of other countries on a pragmatic, principled, multilateral approach. We’ve engaged in intensive personal diplomacy. Since the coup, the United States has been committed both to our democratic principles and to providing help to the Hondurans to find a way back to democratic and constitutional order.
We condemned President Zelaya’s expulsion. We’ve taken concrete steps to demonstrate unequivocally our opposition. But we’ve continued to try to reach out and work with diverse sectors in Honduras, and along with others like President Arias of Costa Rica, to help the Hondurans themselves chart a way forward for a peaceful, negotiated end to this crisis.
Now, the culmination of what was a year-long electoral process occurred on November 29th when the Honduran people expressed their feelings and their commitment to a democratic future. They turned out in large numbers and they threw out, in effect, the party of both President Zelaya and the de facto leader, Mr. Micheletti. Since then, President-elect Lobo has launched a national dialogue. He’s called for the formation of a national unity government and a truth commission as set forth among the requirements in the Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord. That is an agreement that the Hondurans themselves reached. We helped to facilitate it, but the Hondurans decided they wanted a local resolution.
In the days and weeks ahead, we want to be on the side of the Honduran people. We want to work closely with others in the region, particularly Central America, so that what is a real problem can be resolved by everyone coming together. As important as these diplomatic efforts are, though, we know that governments cannot solve these problems alone, and no one nation can. I’ve said from the very beginning of my tenure as Secretary of State that the United States cannot solve all the problems in our hemisphere or anywhere in the world alone, but the problems cannot be solved unless the United States is involved. So part of our challenge is how we get others to step up and work with us.
We’re enlisting a lot of different voices and some of the best minds in the public and private sectors to work on regional and global challenges like climate change. The Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas announced by President Obama in Trinidad and Tobago earlier this year will help to harness our collective ability to promote renewable energy and reduce emissions. We’re also trying to reach deep into societies to promote public diplomacy. The Alliance of Youth Movements, launched in Mexico City in October with the backing of the State Department, is helping young leaders drive positive change in their own societies, starting with little more than a cell phone and an idea.
We’re working with our partners in Latin America to find ways of ensuring economic growth that doesn’t just benefit the upper echelons of society. Anyone who spends more than five minutes looking at the challenges in Latin America knows that the income disparity is one of the biggest that we have to overcome. So how do we drive economic growth downward? Many of you are aware of the Pathways to Prosperity initiative, which I helped re-launch in El Salvador in June, along with ministers from more than a dozen other countries.
Our focus of pathways is to empower women as drivers of economic and social progress, and this fall, we hosted a meeting of promising female entrepreneurs from the region here at State, bringing them together with more experienced businesswomen who can serve as models and mentors. There are new ways of doing business founded on mutual respect and common vision, but also on shared responsibility.
Now the United States has, as I have said repeatedly, contributed to some of the problems we see in the region. But we are determined in the Obama Administration to be part of the solution. We are committed to partnerships not just in word, but in deed. And we want to forge stronger avenues of cooperation and collaboration, but we want to do it on many levels simultaneously. Seldom in this region has there been such agreement on the basic principles of freedom and democracy.
Now is the time to go forward with these principles as our foundation and our guide. That means making sure that we not only do hold elections, but that democracy delivers for citizens, so that people can see the results of these elections. And it also means that you don’t just have an election once. You actually have them on a periodic basis, in accordance with constitutional and legal precedent. It means a free press. It means protection of minorities. It means an independent judiciary. It means all of the institutional elements that make democracies sustainable.
We also have to make sure that when it comes to development, we’re not just providing aid, but we are empowering people to aid themselves. And we’ve seen a lot of good examples of that, but we’ve never taken any of them to scale in the way that they need to be. Now, there will continue to be challenges. But we feel like we are entering into a new relationship. It is one that we care deeply about, and that we intend to foster."Full Text