Printer Friendly

The inauguration of a new era.

In his inaugural address of September 15, Secretary General Cesar Gaviria pledged to be "the most devoted warrior for freedom, democracy, peace, prosperity, integration, and the well-being of all citizens of the Americas." The former president of Colombia was sworn in as the seventh secretary general of the OAS by Guatemalan ambassador Cesar Fernando Alvarez Guadamuz, President of the Permanent Council, before a gathering of international dignataries, including Colombian president Dr. Ernesto Samper Pizano, the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, James Mitchell, U.S. Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, ex-presidents of various Latin American countries, and other special guests.

Addressing the inter-American community gathered for the occasion, Gaviria proposed a new agenda for action in the Americas, stressing the increased "interdependence (of nations) as an unquestionable reality, the building and strengthening of democracy and its individual and collective liberties, including, the defense and promotion of human rights, the need for a partnership among nations, and the efforts toward egalitarianism through mechanisms such as free trade." He added that environmental conservation is another topic that should figure prominently on the expanded agenda of the OAS.

The new secretary general underscored that the current situations in Cuba and Haiti "are two subjects of concern to all of us who wish to live in peace in a tension-free and democratic Hemisphere. . . . Both those countries belong to the Americas and to this Organization, so that we cannot fail to be involved in their fate." On Cuba, Gaviria warned that in order to encourage "sweeping economic and political reforms, in accordance with the will of the people, . . . we cannot isolate Cuba. We must open the doors so that ideas can be aired, information can flow, and the future can be discussed dispassionately. On Haiti, he affirmed that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide "will return . . . because that is the wish of the people who elected him and that is the unequivocal wish of the international community." He also stated that the OAS will play a crucial role as the inter-American system's political organization in the approaching reconstruction of democracy in Haiti.

"The challenge before us is enormous," Secretary General Gaviria told the OAS Council as he discussed the new agenda aimed at accelerating efforts "to strengthen democracy and bring about a world free from violence and poverty and drugs, in which human rights are respected and our natural resources can be developed and preserved."

In connection with the defense of democracy, Gaviria described the OAS's role as threefold: "first, the Organization should play a direct role in handling crises that threaten democracy in the Hemisphere; . . . second, the OAS is expected to have the permanent means with which to foresee and dissolve tensions that can unleash processes leading to the breakdown of democratic life; . . . and finally, the Organization has been assigned the task of strengthening democracy through support to institutional development and good governance, electoral transparency, and the strengthening of democratic culture."

The Secretary General called for increased inter-American cooperation, remarking that "in the past the OAS has been used more to check unilateralism than to spur collective action. . . . The time has come to generate confidence and a spirit of cooperation that will enable us to seek a true consensus for action." He further stated that cooperation between inter-American institutions, as well as countries, should be strengthened. "The IDB and the OAS should work hand in hand, make joint use of our respective comparative advantages, and offer the right mix of technical know-how and economic and political resources to support efforts aimed at transformation, modernization and reform of the state in countries that so desire."

Gaviria referred to the upcoming Summit of the Americas, as "a historic opportunity which we cannot allow to pass us by" and an occasion for developing a common agenda, similar to the one he presented to the OAS, focusing on the essential issues confronting the hemisphere.

Other priorities discussed by the Secretary General included hemispheric integration through free trade and the war on drug trafficking. He said that through its Special Committee on Trade (CED) and in conjunction with other agencies of the inter-American system, "the OAS could be active in statistics, technical assistance, and legal advisory services for the settlement of the various differences that arise in the negotiations or on various trade and investment issues." Regarding the threat implied by the international drug trade, Gaviria commended the efforts of the OAS undertaken through CICAD, adding that in order to attack this critical problem at its roots, the international community must organize a cooperative system. "The nations can and should do much more to achieve the ideal of a drug-free youth."

Gaviria cited the presence of Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, and the great Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes as "symbols of the power of culture, a power we must use to cope with the challenges of our time." He went on to say that while the OAS has changed and begun to adapt to new demands, it must strive to enhance professionalism and ensure efficient management. "The OAS should be a body in which the Hemisphere's new generations of professionals will want to bring their talents to bear and realize their hopeful vision of the future."

The new leader of the OAS said he was assuming the task of shaping into reality the aspiration of building a revamped inter-American structure, following in the footsteps of visionaries like Bolivar, San Martin, Morazan, Juarez, Marti, Garvey, and Washington. He concluded, "It is that dream, at last understood after such long isolation, that will forever guide our steps."
COPYRIGHT 1994 Organization of American States
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Organization of American States
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Nov 1, 1994
Previous Article:Evolving summits of the Americas.
Next Article:Healthy habitat for howlers.

Related Articles
Iguacu: high-tech, low temperature process for spray-dried coffee.
Business at the old stand.
Washington consensus? nonsensus! U.S. President Bush said his administration would-look-south. It couldn't have done much worse. (Trade Talk).
For many, Inauguration Day is time to protest.
Inauguration belongs to the people, not the rich.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters