About the Author: Arturo A. Valenzuela serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
I recently highlighted some of the areas where we were particularly engaged last year in the Western Hemisphere. In coming weeks, I'd like to use my blog entries to look ahead to some of the most important issues we'll be working on in 2010 and beyond.
Despite all the challenges of the global economic crisis, and other big transnational issues, this is a promising time in the Americas. In fact, I don't know that there has ever been a greater degree of consensus among our societies about what our highest priorities should be. They include, first and foremost, getting back to sustainable economic growth. We need dynamic, trading economies that generate opportunities for all our citizens.
Achieving more effective and responsive democratic governance is also a goal that unites people all through the Americas. This is critical to building modern and resilient institutions that can ensure justice, and protect fundamental rights, for all. These institutions are vital to providing physical safety to our citizens, and reducing the very localized violence that is driven by increasingly transnational crime. They are also necessary to channel and meet the enormous expectation for positive change of so many relatively new participants in political systems. These include whole populations that have long been excluded or marginalized based on economic, racial, or ethnic status.
We're going to pursue these important goals -- these widely shared goals -- through a diplomacy of social and economic inclusion and a diplomacy that prioritizes the safety of our citizens. We are already doing so through a number of new partnerships, and work to expand these into networks of cooperation that can really leverage the extraordinary talent and energy of the Americas to make big progress.
None of this means that we won't have differences sometimes with other nations, even on important issues. When we do, we want to address them honestly and directly, and find common ground with governments and other stakeholders whenever we can. But, we never want to let inevitable differences obscure the much broader, historic, and much more important, common purpose that exists in the Americas today.
I want to close by noting that this is a very important moment, symbolically, for all the Americas. 2010 is the start of a cycle of bicentennial celebrations all over the region. This year Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico mark 200 years of national independence. This is a fitting tie to reflect on the extraordinary strides all our nations have made in two centuries toward building the strong, inclusive, democratic societies our founders envisioned. It hasn't been a smooth ride for any of us. In truth, it will always probably be a work in progress forever. This is yet another common experience that unites us -- and one that that gives good reason for optimism at the start of a new decade.