Secretary Clinton Responds to Questions About Caribbean Region

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
April 24, 2009
Secretary Clinton Greets Volunteers With Comfort Clinic in Haiti

Secretary Clinton answered questions taken during her trip to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago, April 16-19. Secretary Clinton selected frequently asked questions and answered them here.Question: What are the most pressing challenges faced in the Caribbean region which the U.S. can help alleviate, and by what means?

Secretary Clinton:The Summit of the Americas held April 17-19, 2009, in Trinidad and Tobago came at a time of great challenge and great opportunity for the U.S. and the Americas. The consequences of a historic economic crisis are being felt across the hemisphere, putting new pressure on peoples and governments that are already strained. Migration to and from each of our nations has serious implications for all nations. The safety and security of our citizens is endangered by drug trafficking, lawlessness, and a host of other threats. Our energy challenge offers us a chance to unleash our joint economic potential, enhance our security, and protect our planet. And too many citizens are being denied dignity and opportunity and a chance to live out their dreams in Cuba and all across the hemisphere.

These are some of the issues President Obama and I discussed at the Summit of the Americas , where we met with the leaders of the 33 other democratically-elected nations from the Western Hemisphere . The subject of many of these meetings and conversations has been launching a new era of partnership between our nations. The message we brought to the Summit is clear -- the United States wants to engage our hemisphere. We are neighbors and friends and partners on so many fronts. We obviously have disagreements with some of the leadership in certain countries in Latin America . But we approach that from a practical, not an ideological perspective. Practically, we think that vibrant markets and open political systems and dynamic democracies and free speech and good governance and the rule of law are in the best interests of the people of all of these countries.

We want to help every country realize that dream for their own people. So let's be united against the scourge of drug trafficking which robs people of their freedom, of their future, which undermines civil society. Let's work together on social inclusion so that no group of people are excluded from any country's civil, social growth. Let's work together on health and education and our young people.

Question: I note that you and Pres. Chavez have agreed to reinstate Ambassadors to Caracas and Washington. Aside from bringing Venezuela into line with our other partner countries in the hemisphere, what specific benefits derive to each country from a renewed and improved relationship?

Secretary Clinton: At the Summit of the Americas, Secretary Clinton discussed with President Chavez the return of ambassadors to their respective posts in Caracas and Washington. As we have stated previously, exchanging ambassadors will help advance U.S. interests. It is necessary for improving communications and our bilateral relations.

The subject of many of our meetings and conversations at the Summit of the Americas, held in Trinidad and Tobago from April 17-19, was the launching of a new era of partnership between the U.S. and nations throughout the hemisphere. Over the past few days, we've seen potential positive signs in the nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela. But as President Obama has stated, the test for all of us is not simply words, but also deeds. I believe that the signals sent so far provide at least an opportunity for frank dialogue on a range of issues, including critical areas of democracy and human rights throughout the hemisphere. We will not see eye to eye with every regional leader on every regional issue, but what we showed at the Summit is that we can make progress when we are willing to break free from some of the stale debates and old ideologies that have dominated and distorted the debate in this hemisphere for far too long. We showed that while we have our differences, we can -- and must -- work together in areas where we have mutual interests, and where we disagree we can disagree respectfully. We showed that there are no senior or junior partners in the Americas; we're simply partners, committed to advancing a common agenda and overcoming common challenges.

Read the Secretary's responses to additional questions here.



Florida, USA
April 27, 2009

Kathleen in Florida writes:

It's worth noting that the photo for this blog was taken while Secretary Clinton was visiting a clinic setup by crewmembers from U.S. hospital ship, USNS COMFORT, during the ship's two-week port visit to Haiti. The ship's mixed military, civilian, and NGO crew treated more than 6,000 patients and encountered more than 30,000 Haitians through outreach and training efforts.

Right now the ship's in Dominican Republic and has five more countries in the region to visit and tens of thousands of more people to help.


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