Secretary Clinton delivered remarks at the 40th Washington Conference on the Americas at the U.S. Department of State on May 12, 2010.
The Secretary highlighted her upcoming travels to Peru in June for the Organization of American States General Assembly. She also discussed three issues, including the U.S. commitment to trade and energy investment, security, and inequity and immigration.
The Secretary said, "We believe that we can do so much more on both energy and climate, and we need your help on that front as well. The United States is prepared to invest government funds to solicit private sector funds to try to develop the energy sectors. We are particularly concerned about how so many countries in the Caribbean and Central America are dependent on imported oil at great cost to their economies. I believe that we will see oil start to go back up in price and that will further impinge upon the budgetary choices in the Caribbean and Central America, and we need to get ahead of this and not see the consequences that will inevitably flow that will hit the hardest on the people least able to manage those costs. So, trade and energy investment, that's one big basket of issues that I know you'll be addressing. We need your ideas, we need your constructive criticism, and we need a strong, deep partnership on the way forward."
She continued, "Secondly, security -- you can't go anywhere in Latin America without hearing about the challenges to security. Our friends from Colombia have waged a heroic and largely successful struggle against the drug traffickers, but it isn't over. It's not over in Colombia and it is certainly not over anywhere else in the hemisphere. The countries bearing the brunt of it today are in Central America and Mexico. The brutality, the barbarism of the drug traffickers in Mexico is just beyond imagination. And we need smarter, more effective strategies to deal with this continuing threat to civil society, to governmental legitimacy, to the writ of government out into areas that need to be controlled. We have some good examples of what does work, but we are nowhere near what I would consider to be an effective strategy."
The Secretary said, "[T]he issues of inequity, of immigration are ones that are particularly important and they are linked to everything else. While I think that we can take a lot of joy in the positive GDP growth, our income disparity continues to grow. And that is not good news for anybody. That is a source of social and political instability. It feeds a lot of the criminal activity that unfortunately is now dominated by the traffickers of drugs and arms and people. And we have to do a better job."
She continued, "So while we talk about what we need to do in Latin America, we need to stay focused on how we empower and how we create mechanisms within the public sector that are going to be able to lift up those who are on the bottom. We don't have the poorest people in the world in Latin America, with the exception of Haiti, but we have the most inequity. And therefore, we've got to have a partnership among the public and the private sector to address this."
Before closing, she noted the countries of the Western Hemisphere's commitment to Haiti. "I am so grateful to every country represented here, because every country in the hemisphere contributed something to Haiti after the earthquake. Even those that were small and themselves coping with difficult social and economic conditions have made their contributions. And we have to stay united on this effort."
Read the Secretary's full remarks here.