Posts Tagged ‘Latin America’

Remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Latin America


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 18, 2011

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SECRETARY CLINTON: (Applause.) Thank you. Oh, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It is a delight to be back at CSIS and have this opportunity to speak with you. I want to thank Mack for his introduction. Always ask a long-time friend to introduce you because then you’re guaranteed, at least if he doesn’t provide embarrassing detail, to have a positive prelude.

I can think of no one more fitting than Mack to have provided that opening because he is a long-time champion of U.S. engagement in Latin America and did an excellent job as my husband’s envoy during the Clinton Administration.

My thanks also John Hamre, Andrew Schwartz, CSIS for your generosity in hosting us this afternoon. As an institution that is focused on not just the day-to-day policy, but also on the deeper forces and dynamics that shape it, this is an ideal place to discuss what I see as one of the central strategic opportunities for the United States today.

Now, obviously, there is a lot going on around the world and much that demands our urgent attention from the historic changes in the Middle East and North Africa where I just was yesterday to the tragedy unfolding in Japan. But as I often say, we have to deal with both the urgent and the important at the same time. And with President Obama departing for Brasilia in just a few hours, now is a good time to turn our attention from the urgent events of the day and consider another important part of the world.

The President’s trip coincides with the anniversary of a major milestone in hemispheric relations. Fifty years ago, President Kennedy launched the Alliance for Progress, pledging that the United States would join with Latin American leaders to address head-on a development challenge that was, as he put it, staggering in its dimensions. He understood that our failure to tackle poverty and inequality in Latin America could tear the social fabric and undercut democracy’s prospects throughout the hemisphere. President Kennedy announced the alliance here in Washington to an audience of Latin American ambassadors at the White House. President Obama will mark this anniversary in Latin America. And I think that is fitting.

Too few Americans have noticed that something remarkable has been happening in the region. Now, there are, of course, plenty of challenges and they often hog the headlines – transnational crime, continuing inequality and poverty, inadequate education and so on. Now, those are challenges that apply in many cases, including in our own country.

But the real story of Latin America today runs in a very different direction. It is a story of political transition and a broad commitment to democratic development, a story of pragmatic leaders who helped turn a once-troubled region into an area of dynamic 21st century economies and societies, a story of active new players on the global stage.

Now in the coming days, President Obama will visit three countries – Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador – each is living this story in unique ways. The President will build on the pledge he made at the Summit of the Americas early in his presidency to work as “equal partners” in a “new chapter of engagement” based on “mutual respect and common interests and shared values.” He and the three leaders hosting him will show, in word and deed, how much such a partnership can accomplish.

But I want to focus on why this partnership matters to us – what this story means for the United States: For our economic interests, as we rebuild our economy and renew our competitiveness for a new time; for our security and global strategic interests, as we design a 21st century architecture of cooperation with the help of like-minded partners; for our core values, as we promote democracy and human rights around the world; and for our society and our culture as the growing connections between our peoples make us all more vital and innovative. Now during the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity, as Mack said, to travel the hemisphere and meet with presidents and foreign ministers, journalists and CEOs, activists and entrepreneurs.

Last summer, The Washington Post noted that I had visited 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean during my first 18 months in office. Apparently, that was more than any other Secretary of State in that period, and I’m proud to hold that record. But what really matters is the common purpose behind these trips and President Obama’s – bolstering our current partnerships in Latin America and highlighting the remarkable opportunities we have to accomplish even more together.

So let’s start with economic opportunity. This is the challenge on everyone’s mind today, and with very good reason. There are still too many Americans out of work. And our recovery from the financial crisis is far from complete.

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama laid out an agenda for how we will emerge from the crisis stronger than before, how America will win the future. And I share President Obama’s optimism. But as certain as we are of the goal, it is not something that America can accomplish alone. Enhancing our competitiveness, accelerating innovation, achieving energy security, and expanding our exports – all of these require robust engagement with Latin America.

It’s not only the developing economies of Asia that are aiding the global recovery today. It is also the economies of our neighbors. Brazil, with nearly 8 percent GDP growth last year, is predicted to become the world’s fourth- or fifth-largest economy in the coming decades. Peru has also been growing at rates we typically associate with China and India. Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina are close behind, followed by Mexico, Panama, and Colombia. The combined economies of Latin America grew 6 percent last year. This dynamism, coupled with smart public policies promoting broad-based opportunity, led Luis Alberto Moreno, the president of the InterAmerican Development Bank, to call this the start of a Latin America decade.

This is good news for the people of Latin America as well as for the United States. Taken as a whole, the Latin American economy is nearly three times the size of India or Russia and not far behind China and Japan. And Latin America has a huge advantage that will serve it well in the coming decades: a young population. If the countries of the region succeed in delivering education for their young people, they will have a significant edge for years to come over other major economies that are starting to feel the strain of an aging population.

The size of the Latin American economy and its young demographics are especially important for the United States, because our economy is tied much more closely to the economies of our neighbors than to those across the oceans. Forty-three percent of all of our exports stay in the Western Hemisphere. We export more than three times as much to Latin America than we do to China. And I want to repeat that, because I don’t think there are very many Americans who understand or know that. We export more than three times as much to Latin America than we do to China. We export more to Latin America than to Europe, and more to Chile or Colombia than to Russia.

North America is the largest free trade area in the world. Now, all of these facts point to a very promising trend. Latin America is producing more and more new consumers for U.S. products each year. Tens of millions of people in the region are entering the middle class, more than 30 million in Brazil alone since 2003. At the same time, Latin America is home to dynamic companies, entrepreneurs, and innovators who are purchasing technology and equipment and helping drive competitiveness and innovation in American businesses. The bottom line is that geography matters. It is a comparative advantage to be embraced, and we neglect it at our own peril. Growth in the Latin American market stands to benefit American workers and companies more than growth anywhere else in the world. It is the power of proximity, geographic proximity and also the proximity of our global economic interests and our challenges at home and what it will take to overcome them.

And both our government and our private sector need to direct our efforts to harness that power of proximity. Now, I do understand the concerns of those who worry that globalization and integration will take jobs away from Americans. But I also know that with the right policies we can channel those forces to create more and better jobs for the benefit of American workers.

Look at the American auto industry. It is reviving itself in part by integrating more closely with our neighbors. Assembling a car today involves material inputs and processes that cross borders several times before a finished product rolls off the assembly line. And in the end, our workers are the better for it. Take Embraer, the jet manufacturer and one of Brazil’s biggest exporters. The United States accounts for about 65 percent of its sales. But about 70 percent of the parts that it puts into its planes are made in the United States.

Now, these economic relations, therefore, are not zero sum. Ultimately, they do benefit the people of every country involved. That’s why it is good news for us that Monterrey, Mexico is becoming a base for research and development, or that Brazil’s agricultural research and investment have helped turn it into one of the world’s top food suppliers, or that Petrobras, Brazil’s oil company, issued one of the largest stock offerings ever last year, and that Rio will soon host both the World Cup and the Olympics. There’s no doubt that when construction and drilling start, American companies will also be there.

Our energy security depends on this hemisphere. The source of one half of our oil imports, Latin America alone accounts for a third of our imported oil with Mexico our second-biggest supplier. And you probably know that Venezuela is also a major source. But did you know that Colombia is now as well? And Brazil is poised to become one of our top suppliers, thanks to its recent offshore find.

So as we move toward a clean energy economy, Latin America’s role will have to grow. And already, we are working on renewable energy technology and resources with Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean, and across the region, thanks in part to President Obama’s leadership in launching the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas.

Now, many other players are also recognizing Latin America’s potential, and they are making their own inroads, building their own economies, signing their own investment deals and free trade agreements. But that should not worry us. Rather, it should spur us on. President Obama’s national export initiative is leveraging every facet of our diplomacy to promote American jobs. As productivity rises, companies need fewer employees to meet their goals. So to create more jobs, we have to expand our existing trade relationships and create new ones. That’s why a broad cross-section of businesses, from high-tech companies to heavy equipment manufacturers to the Montana grain growers, all support free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. They know that opening these markets is essential to our own exports, jobs, and competitiveness.

We’re also building a 21st century smart border with Mexico that supports security and competitiveness on both sides. And earlier this month, we took a significant step in finally resolving the longstanding dispute over trucking under NAFTA.

Strengthening our economic relationships has benefits for all the people of the region, but it also has another advantage. It leads to the rise of even more capable partners who can help us accomplish our strategic objectives, from addressing the challenge of climate change to improving security in the region, and that’s the second area I want to talk about – the opportunity to partner with Latin America on global strategic issues.

President Obama’s visit occurs at a time when there is a growing recognition that the hemisphere stands to gain from greater cooperation premised on shared values, that governments and societies each bring their own capabilities to solving common problems. When we think about addressing the serious challenges of drug trafficking and criminal violence, for example, countries such as Chile and Colombia have much to share about the process of training effective, accountable police and judges in Central America.

And when it comes to promoting social inclusion, Brazil, Uruguay, and Barbados have set an enviable example. And just as Latin America goes global, building its ties with Europe and Africa, with Asia and the Middle East, so will our relationship. Day to day, it can be as much about how we can work together in the world as about issues particular to our region. As countries step up on the global stage, they will make essential contributions to helping all of us meet some of those most important challenges.

Mexico, for example, made a crucial contribution to the fight against climate change through its remarkable leadership in Cancun last year. Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina in the G-20; Chile and Mexico in the OECD; Chile and Peru in the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and along with Mexico in APEC, these are all helping to build a foundation for balanced global growth, a transparent global economy, and broad-based opportunity. Colombia and Brazil are vital partners this year on the UN Security Council. Uruguay contributes more troops per capita to UN peacekeeping operations than any other country. Costa Rica is working to become the first carbon-neutral nation on earth. We are partnering with Brazil on food security and public health projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. And every country joined to assist Haiti after the earthquake and continues to assist in the reconstruction.

Now as vibrant a picture as the hemisphere presents, it has not yet realized its full global potential. And it is very much in our interest to help our Latin American partners further embrace an active and constructive global role. But let me hasten to add this does not mean that we will always agree, but we will agree much more often than not. And even when we disagree, we will never lose sight of the powerful interests and core values that connect us. And one of our most important, powerful bonds is our commitment to democracy, and that brings me to the third opportunity we have in our engagement in the region.

Latin America has undergone such a profound democratic transformation that it can now be a model and even a mentor for those fighting to create and protect democracy everywhere. Let’s not forget that before the Middle East, it was Latin America that people dismissed as arid ground for democracy. We can still recall a time when dictators and strong men dominated the hemisphere. And plenty of Americans thought that friendly autocrats were the best we could ever hope for.

But citizens coming together, asserting their fundamental rights, in the face of autocrats and military governments, overcame the doubts of the world and the challenges of transition to build democracies that deliver results. The very ideals we hope for in Egypt and Tunisia have already taken place in our own hemisphere. This task is not finished, and this hemisphere can do much more to guard against threats and challenges to democracy closer to home. In some countries, insecurity and a lack of opportunity remain real obstacles. In others, democracy is being rolled back rather than strengthened. And Cuba remains a glaring exception to the democratic convergence. That is something that all of us have to face up to and work toward dealing with.

But the overall direction is clear. The region’s commitment to democratic development is widespread and strong. And that does give Latin Americans a special role in helping support other nations making the difficult transition to democracy today. In recent weeks, we’ve seen some promising examples of just that. Veterans of Chile’s democratic transition have already visited Cairo to talk about the importance of strong institutions, advancing reconciliation, and ensuring that democracy delivers results. Mexico took the lead in suspending Libya from the Human Rights Council.

And I would add that we in the United States can also learn some things from Latin American democracy as well. Now, one example I particularly like is the encouraging number of female presidents in the region. (Laughter.) And I must say that – (applause) – I am far enough away from my own career in electoral politics that I will not take too much heat for suggesting that these women and societies can teach American voters a thing or two.

And finally, I want to emphasize that all of these opportunities are strengthened by the interdependence of our societies, our cultures, and our peoples. The United States has one of the largest Spanish-speaking populations in the world. Latinos are the fastest growing group in our country today. And we also share a rich heritage from our Caribbean neighbors. More than half of our foreign-born population has roots in Latin America. And these ties have shaped every aspect of our society and culture, and we are the better for it.

I know that immigration and interdependence can bring real challenges, and that they do make a lot of Americans anxious, and that is understandable. But immigration has always been a source of our vitality and innovative spirit. So if we work together to address these challenges, I have no doubt that this will continue to be an enormous advantage for the United States, one that bears directly and crucially on our economic and geopolitical prospects. We cannot afford to surrender that advantage now.

Going forward, all these areas of opportunity will also be a roadmap for our engagement, and President Obama will highlight each of them during his trip. In Brazil, he will announce new economic opportunities and discuss new ways we can work together on our core challenges in energy, innovation, education, and beyond. He will go to Chile to emphasize our fundamental values and shared commitment to democracy. And he will point to the importance of Latin America’s broad commitment to democratic development. And in El Salvador, he will show how we can do our part on meeting the shared challenges of security and development in a country that has shown the will to move forward.

Now ultimately, all of these partnerships boil down to this – seizing the phenomenal opportunities we now have in this region: the opportunity to create jobs and drive development; the opportunity to secure democratic progress in our hemisphere and, together, foster it beyond; the opportunity to advance human security in all of its forms, whether acting on our responsibility to address unacceptable levels of violence or unacceptable levels of inequality to promote inclusive growth for everyone.

Now I know that looking for opportunities abroad can sometimes be a tough sell here at home, especially at a time of strained budgets and high employment. And I know well how danger, crisis, and catastrophe can take over your week, week after week after week. (Laughter.) But that’s why this trip, which some questioned about how could the President go to Latin America on this long-planned trip with everything happening from Japan to the Middle East and North Africa, is being answered in the right way. As the experts here at CSIS will tell you, strategy depends on the ability to look deeper and further than the day to day. And there are so many reasons why this trip at this time is so important.

Just one way of perhaps putting it into context, when I think about why we should invest in our relationships in Latin America, I think about the path that Colombia has traveled over the last years. I remember vividly when my daughter and husband visited in 2000, when Plan Colombia was just beginning. It was a country terrorized by drug traffickers and guerrillas who controlled vast parts of territory and who could strike in any major city. Foreign policy experts, in this city and so many other places, were calling it a failed state.

Ten years later, I traveled to Colombia as Secretary of State. And this time, I walked through the streets of downtown Bogota. I visited a bakery run by former FARC and paramilitary members – and let me tell you, it’s not every day that you get to sample the baked goods of former guerrillas. (Laughter.) When I sat down with the foreign minister and then President Uribe, Colombia’s security challenges were still very real, but they were only a part of the discussion. We spent more time talking about how Colombia and the United States can work together to take the agenda further, to solve global and regional problems from climate change to partnering in the Security Council to expanding economic growth and about what Columbia could do to help both Central America and Mexico in meeting their own security challenges. We talked about how we could deepen the ties between our societies and advance our shared values, and about what will be achieved when Colombia hosts next year’s Summit of the Americas. And we talked about the inclusion and human rights agenda that President Santos is now advancing with extraordinary commitment and results.

So Colombia, in short, had gone from a source of danger to itself and others to a source of inspiration to all of us and to becoming a vital partner in the great debates of our time. Now, the real credit goes to the Colombian people and to the leaders who had to make very hard choices, not just once or twice, but over and over again. But the United States played an important, some would say an essential role. The money we invested in Plan Colombia over that decade, while significant, is less than we spend in Afghanistan in a single week.

When President Obama returns from Latin America, he will have set the stage for more stories like Colombia’s in the years ahead, stories with powerful implications for trade and jobs, for education and innovation, for many advances in human potential that we will be so proud to see and that we will benefit from. And he will have invested in key relationships and delivered a message of partnership throughout the hemisphere. It is a message we must hear at home. These are opportunities we cannot afford to pass up or let them pass us by.

The world is so dynamic right now, events are moving so quickly, people are so connected in ways that could not have even been imagined a decade ago. And what I’m not sure yet that many Americans understand is that if you’re not in the mix, if you’re not in the arena, if you’re not reaching out and building those relationships on an ongoing basis, you will find that others have stepped in to do just that. And there is no part of the world that is more closely linked with who we are as Americans and what kind of future we want for our children than this hemisphere and, in particular, in Latin America.

So I’m excited that in the midst of another unbelievable week in the world, the President is off to a trip that will take him to three important countries and send a message to all the others, and that I had this opportunity to come and discuss with you why we think it is one of the most important long-term commitments that the United States has and must continue to follow through on.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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Well, since everything on the Secretary of State’s schedule today is closed to the press, we are not seeing any photo feeds. Readers might be in need of a Hillary-fix right about now. There were SO many photos taken on this trip to Latin America and the Caribbean that I have not posted many of them. A few that I have put below were posted here earlier in the week, but I like them so much I think they deserve reposting.

She is absolutely exquisite in this photo.

I have been watching “The Tudors,” and it occured to me in the last episode that Catherine Parr, Henry’s last wife, was, as queen, the Hillary Clinton of her day. He made her regent in his absence, and she was very politically savvy. Hillary, on this chair, looks like a queen on a throne.

So sue me! I just had to repost these with President Correa of Ecuador. The “charm offensive” evidently went both ways! We know that her Squire was scheduled to be in Bogota that evening when she landed anyway, and it’s a good thing! Just a reminder – she’s taken!

I don’t know WHAT President Uribe of Colombia was doing in this picture, but many of the photos we saw of him seemed to indicate that he has quite a sense of humor.

This was a luncheon hosted by Uribe.

Here she is meeting former rebels in Colombia.

Meeting two candidates for President of Colombia.  She looks gorgeous in both of these.

With the Ministers at CARICOM.

With the Acting President of Barbados.

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Daily Appointments Schedule for June 8, 2010

Washington, DC
June 8, 2010

Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Barbados through June 10. For more information, click here.

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Last weekend I posted a brief press release regarding Secretary Clinton’s upcoming travel to Latin America and the Caribbean. Today Western Hemisphere Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela briefed the press in more depth. I have not read this closely before posting (I trust the source), but I hope Assistant Secretary Valenzuela is going along (probably) since he rocks his social media, and we get really good and timely tweets!

(Sorry folks, no pics or video of Hillary here, just information, but we want information!)

Briefing on Secretary Clinton’s Upcoming Travel to Latin America and the Caribbean

Arturo Valenzuela
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Washington, DC
June 4, 2010

MR. TONER: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. Very happy to have with us today Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela. As you know, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to be traveling to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Barbados June 6th to 10th, and Assistant Secretary Valenzuela will be here to answer your questions and talk a little bit about the trip.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Thanks very much. I want to remind you that on the first week of March, the Secretary did a trip to the Southern Cone in Central America. She went to the inauguration of President Mujica in Uruguay and then she went to Argentina and Chile and Brazil and then to Costa Rica to the Pathways meeting and then from there to Guatemala City to a meeting with the Central American presidents.

This trip this week will begin on Sunday and it’s to Lima, Peru, for the General Assembly of the Organization of American States. So the Secretary will lead the U.S. delegation to the Organization of American States annual meeting in Lima. And in Lima, she will also have a bilateral meeting with President Garcia, who, as you know, was in Washington last week to meet with the President as well.
From – so will be arriving on Sunday in Lima, Peru – Sunday evening. She will spend the entire day in Peru on Monday in the meetings of the OASGA. And then on Tuesday morning, she will be leaving Lima, Peru, and fly to Quito, Ecuador, where she will have a meeting with President Correa. And the meeting with President Correa will be also followed by a speech that the Secretary will give at a cultural center in Quito, where she will lay out the broad outline of the Obama Administration’s policies towards the countries of the hemisphere to the Americas.
At the end of the day in Quito, she will fly to Bogota, Colombia and arrive in the evening. And then the following day – I’m talking about Wednesday, then – she will be meeting in the morning with the two presidential candidates because, as you know Colombia is going through an electoral process. The first round of the election has already taken place, took place last Sunday, and so she will be meeting with the two presidential candidates, Santos and Mockus, and then having a meeting with President Uribe.
And then towards the end of the day, she will travel to Barbados, arriving in the evening in Barbados. And Thursday, she will be meeting, then, with countries of the Caribbean, CARICOM, in Barbados.
Let me just – I’ll start in reverse order. In Barbados, she will be discussing some of the security issues that the Caribbean faces, as well as other items on the agenda with the Caribbean countries. This is in some ways a follow-up to the recent meeting that we had here in Washington of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, which was the Administration’s effort to work with countries of the Caribbean to address the problems of crime and violence and narco-trafficking that the Caribbean countries face. But there will probably be other items on the agenda.
And then in Bogota, of course, she will be discussing elements of the bilateral relationship with Colombia, as well as with the two candidates, one of whom will be president of Colombia.
In Lima, at the OASGA, the Secretary will be participating in a meeting that has as its primary theme security and cooperation in the Americas. In fact, the declaration for the meeting has already been worked on by the members of the Organization of American States. They’ve come up with a draft declaration that will be issued in Lima. This is an effort on the part of the countries of the Americas at the suggestion of the Peruvians, who are the hosts, to address questions of security in a broad sense in the Americas.
So among the elements that are incorporated in this declaration are such things as the importance of confidence-building measures between countries, ensuring that there’s peaceful relationships between countries. There is a section in the declaration that also makes note of the fact that there has been a decline in military spending in the region. It calls for a greater investment, of course, in programs that are aimed at economic development and social reform, and less funding for military kinds of activities and that kind of thing. So it’s an effort to look at the state of security relationships across the board that focuses not only on interstate security questions but also on matters that affect the states in terms of internal security, questions such as crime and violence.
And I suspect also that the agenda will discuss OAS reform and steps ahead, questions of the OAS’s budget, which is a challenge right now. There are going to have to be some cuts on that and so– and listen to the priorities of the secretary general at the OAS.
So without further ado, that’s kind of the broad outline for the trip, and I’m happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: (In Spanish.)
MR. TONER: Please, there’s a call in Spanish at 3 o’clock, so –
MR. TONER: And sir, you mind just giving a –
ASISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Yes. What I said was – the question was – had to do with how we see Latin American in terms – is there an armaments race? And my answer to that was that, in fact, we don’t see this as a problem in Latin America – that, in fact, if you look at the statistics, the data, that there has actually been a significant decline in expenditures on armaments in most of the countries in the region. We value that. This is a product of the fact that since Latin American countries have returned to democracy or have been consolidated in their democratic processes, we’ve also seen significant efforts on the part of many countries to resolve boundary disputes that were dangerous.
I didn’t say this in my Spanish version, but in 1977, Chile and Argentina almost went to war and they had a large number of boundary issues which were resolved. And of course, let’s remember the important agreement between Ecuador and Peru to resolve their longstanding, also, boundary dispute. So this – these are advances and we welcome them and they show that, in fact, in Latin America, it’s much better to think about the strategies that most of the countries are pursuing which is to reduce arms – armament expenditures and invest much more in education and other social areas.
QUESTION: Andy Quinn from Reuters. (inaudible) will coincide with the Secretary’s visit specifically or not, but can you tell if the U.S. plans to seek a vote on the reintegration of Honduras and do you think you’ve got the votes to get that through?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: I think that this is an issue that’s going to be discussed on the margins of the OAS, but I’m not sure that it’s going to actually be part of the agenda. But I don’t have information on that. The – there’s still a discussion among countries in the hemisphere on the reincorporation of Honduras, where this is going to actually be taken up as an official part of the agenda. My understanding is that this is not going to be on the agenda, and the countries that have come to that conclusion. But at the margins of the agenda, this will be – of the discussions – I’m sure this is an issue that will come up.
QUESTION: Is it on the margins because the divisions over whether to readmit Honduras have not been –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: I think that that’s fair to say, that there still are some countries that believe that Honduras should take additional steps, which is a position that’s different from that of the United States where we believe that, in fact, Honduras has taken important steps to overcome the crisis that occurred with a coup from last year. Although, we are also mindful of the fact that there are continuing concerns over human rights violations in Honduras and that certain steps still need to be taken in order to bring about a process of national reconciliation, which was the objective of the Hondurans themselves when they signed the peace accord, which is the base for much of the efforts that are being undertaken now in order to reincorporate – to resolve the problems in Honduras and reincorporate Honduras into the inter-American system.
QUESTION: One thing that is on the agenda is the Malvinas. Is the U.S. prepared to support the Argentine position?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: No, our position has always been that this is a matter for both countries to address —
QUESTION: Will you support the Argentine resolution?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: What we do – our position is to encourage both countries to resolve this issue in a bilateral fashion.
QUESTION: So, wait, wait. I just want to — so, no, you do — so that won’t get through – there won’t be a consensus on it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: I said our position is to encourage both countries. I haven’t read any of the resolutions and I haven’t seen any resolutions that are being tabled. I’m just– but if that question is a general question on what our position is with regard to the Falkland Islands and the Malvinas dispute, it’s that both countries need to address this matter.
QUESTION: On the —
QUESTION: It’s a follow-up?
QUESTION: Yeah, it’s just a follow-up on Honduras.
QUESTION: Okay, then go ahead.
QUESTION: Just – the secretary general of OAS, he said that some countries want former President Zelaya to go back to Honduras. Do countries think that this is an absolute necessary step to keep normalizing the situation? What is the position of the U.S.? Do you think that that should be enough?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: I understand – my understanding is that, in fact, President Lobo has taken steps to address this issue by encouraging President Zelaya. I think that he’s even made some efforts to say that he himself would encourage him to return. President Zelaya apparently at this particular point has not decided that he, in fact, wants to go back to – may not feel that the conditions are right for him to go back. But my understanding is that that is not a critical issue at this particular point. Now I understand that some countries are saying that he needs to go back. That’s true. But, as I said, again, President Lobo has made it clear that President Zelaya would be able to go back to Honduras.
And let me, on Honduras, underscore the fact that, I guess it was a week ago or so, that the Truth Commission was stood up. I think this is an important step that needs to be taken and it has been taken in Honduras. And the Truth Commission that will be headed by former Vice President of Guatemala Eduardo Stein is charged then, pursuant to the accord that both parties signed that led to setting the terms for reconciliation in Honduras, that this commission will look into what happened and provide, as the agreement itself suggests, it’ll provide those elements – elementos – to suggest some kinds of reforms in Honduras moving forward.
QUESTION: Thank you. Sonia Schott with Globovision, Venezuela. Dr. Valenzuela, Secretary Clinton is not going to Venezuela and I would like to know what is the stand of the bilateral relations between U.S. and Venezuela. And considering that one of the major issues in the street and at the OAS General Assembly will be security. I would like to know your position regarding the letter sent by the 12 senators asking the review of the Venezuelan status as a sponsoring – a terrorist sponsor country.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Let me say that this is an Andean trip. The Secretary is not going to Bolivia either at this particular point, but this is an opportunity – your question is an opportunity for me to tell you that I was in Bolivia on Monday and Tuesday. I went down to talk to Foreign Minister Choquehuanca about the relationship between the United States and Bolivia. We’re trying to move forward and trying to overcome some of the difficulties that we’ve had.
We have a framework agreement that we’ve been working on for some time with the Bolivians in order to be able to restore our ambassadors and to normalize relationships. And I’m pleased to tell you that the meetings were extremely positive. I did a press conference with Foreign Minister Choquehuanca after our meeting, and as he expressed it, we’re 99 percent there in terms of this framework agreement. And so I think that we’re optimistic about our ability to move forward to try to strengthen the relationships between the United States and Bolivia – something that both governments want to do.
And as I say, this is– the reason why I mention Bolivia is because this particular trip has an Andean focus. And I wanted to be sure to go to Bolivia before the Secretary traveled to Peru or Colombia or Quito to be able to sort of advance our efforts with the Bolivians. So our Andean trip is focused on that.
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: The reason we’re not going to Venezuela is not an Andean country and to be more specific in terms of your – while there’s been some discussion back and forth with the Venezuelans about how we might be able to also get our – strengthen our relation and get back on track, I don’t think we’re there yet.
QUESTION: And what about the reaction on the letter –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Oh, I don’t – because I was traveling, I don’t know anything about that letter, so I’d have to find out.
QUESTION: Thank you. I’m translating –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Let me go to somebody else, please —
QUESTION: Oh, sure.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: — since you’re already had —
QUESTION: I’m (inaudible) with the Spanish service for (inaudible) press. In the first question, you said that most of the countries in the region are not increasing their military spending. Could you please talk about the countries that do – that –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: I don’t have the facts there at the top of my head in terms of – what I was just giving you is a general impression that —
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: — in Latin America there has been a decline of military expenditures, no. Any country, of course, any sovereign country has a right to purchase equipment and particularly to modernize equipment. And so that’s something that we understand and indeed encourage if you want to modernize this equipment. The thing is that the welcome trend that we see and that is embodied by the discussion that will be had in Lima, in this declaration on issues of security there, is that there has been a decline generally in the military expenditures across the board in the region. And this is something that the declaration, in fact, does welcome as it also emphasizes the importance of investing much more in social programs and in economic development priorities than in weapons.
MR. TONER: A few more questions.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a question about Cuba? Can you bring us up to date on whether there have been any recent contacts on the oil spill issue and also any information or any update on Mr. Gross?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: On the oil spill, the Cubans were notified of the potential of the oil spill that this could be a problem. And my understanding is that they were – they appreciated the gesture of notifying them in that regard.
And I don’t have any updates on Mr. Gross except that there have been some consular visits and that we continue to be extremely concerned about that case, and we brought it to the attention of the Cubans.
QUESTION: Can I ask about– I understand you had a meeting this morning with the general attorney of Nicaragua. I think that U.S. has expressed some concern– worries about the situation of human rights and political rights. And was it about that? Did you stress –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Well, that’s one of the issues that we discussed. We also discussed the property questions in Nicaragua; they’re still outstanding.
QUESTION: Will the free trade agreement with Colombia be ratified? And what will the Secretary tell the government, then?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Well, let me answer the second part of the question. The Secretary will tell President Uribe and Colombian interlocutors that the Obama Administration does support, as the President himself said in the State of the Union Address, in fact, the ratification of a free trade agreement with Colombia.
With regard to the first part of your question as to whether or not this is going to happen, I don’t know. And this, of course, is a matter for the Congress to decide. And – but we continue to work on this and it is something that we hope will happen soon.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you, regarding the OAS and what you mentioned, the need for reform, could you please elaborate a little bit more on that? And what about the budget, how to do that without –
QUESTION: — small budget –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: This is one of those things where, as we move forward, our countries need to continue to make their contributions. Much of the OAS budget depends on additional funding that doesn’t– that’s not the core funding that comes into the OAS. It’s funding that comes in through projects. While those are important, it’s also significant – it’s a priority for the OAS to have a core budget that is an adequate budget to be able to cover the expenditures that the organization has. And so, as the secretary – at this particular point, the secretary general is looking at trying to do some cuts to improve some of the managerial practices within the OAS to streamline the organization. And at the same time, of course, we, with other countries, are looking to see how we can appeal for additional funding to cover some of the priorities at the OAS.
QUESTION: And while she’s at the OAS, does the Secretary have hopes of having a bilateral with the Brazilian foreign minister?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: There is, I could say, a list of bilaterals. But my impression is that we still haven’t decided yet exactly which ones were going to take place. But there will be time for a few bilaterals, and a few bilaterals will be held in Lima. But I’m not – I can’t tell you which ones.
QUESTION: Well, it’s going to be – the timing is propitious for a meeting with the Brazilians, considering you’re looking to get the resolution introduced at the UN next week. I mean, is Iran going to be a factor in these meetings, either the resolution or growing influence in the region?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: I don’t think so, but – and again, I can’t comment on specifics with regard to which bilaterals are being scheduled. But there are several bilaterals that are being looked at. And so as soon as we get that information, we’d be happy to share it with you.
QUESTION: Sure. So you don’t expect, then, that the concern that has been expressed previously in public by the Secretary and others about growing Iranian influence in the –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: No, that’s certainly a concern. And that’s a concern that we’ll continue to express. But if you’re asking me to what degree this is going to become an issue in the discussions at the OAS General Assembly, I’m not sure that this is an issue that’s going to be discussed at the General– OAS General Assembly.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: One more on – the embargo of Cuba is going to come up for sure. They’re going to keep pressing the U.S., but you will just keep repeating the same old positions. Is that right? (Laughter.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Is that a leading question? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yeah, that’s – it’s a leading question, just to – I was helping him leave —
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: I’ll let my friend, P.J. (laughter). He’s an expert at it.
MR. CROWLEY: No, but before Arturo leaves, there are many baseball fans here at the State Department. And for six and a half floors of the State Department, of course, we endorse the Boston Red Sox. But that suite in the middle is a different story. But I do think we should pay tribute to Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers —
QUESTION: Venezuelan —
MR. CROWLEY: Proud son of Venezuela. And the display of grace and sportsmanship that he has given us in the aftermath of his 28-out perfect game. We certainly salute him and what he’s done for the good of the game. And he’s a proud son of Venezuela and the Detroit Tigers.

Yankees fan, here, but I am glad Governor Jennifer Grandholm proclaimed it the perfect game that it WAS! Wake up, Commish! It’s the 21`st Century! Let’s USE the technology!

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First and foremost, there is the U.S. – India Strategic Dialogue right after the holiday weekend. Here are some details from a press briefing yesterday. Emphasis is mine.

Briefing on U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

Robert O. Blake, Jr.
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Washington, DC

May 28, 2010

Let me just briefly describe the schedule. Most of the delegations will be arriving on June 2nd – I’m sorry, on June 1st. On June 2nd, we will have both private sector and government activities. The U.S.-India Business Council will be hosting its 35th annual meeting. Our – Mr. Summers, Larry Summers, will be addressing that, as will our Secretary of Education. And then on the government-to-government level, Under Secretary Burns – Bill Burns, our Under Secretary of Political Affairs – and his counterpart, Foreign Secretary Rao, will oversee a very wide-ranging foreign policy dialogue that will cover Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East, probably China, and many other topics.
On June 3rd, we will have the main strategic dialogue chaired by the Secretary and her counterpart, External Affairs Minister Krishna. I think what’s notable about this is that it’ll be the first time that our two governments are going to have really a whole-of-government conversation about not so much what we’ve accomplished, but to look ahead about what we can accomplish, and particularly look ahead to the President’s visit sometime this fall to India.


We will have, really, two sessions. We’ll have a plenary session that will cover a lot of the – all the bilateral issues that we’re working on – counterterrorism, export controls and high technology, economics and finance, infrastructure, education, energy, climate change. And the purpose of that is really, again, to look broadly at the relationships to try to break down some of these stovepipes that we’ve seen and think creatively and strategically about the new opportunities before us in this relationship.
Then over lunch, the Secretary and External Affairs Minister Krishna will have a discussion on both the global issues that I mentioned, but again come back to some of the important regional issues, particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan, that I discussed earlier.
Later in the day, there will be a reception that the Secretary will host to honor the Indian delegation, but also to include many of the members of the Indian diaspora and other people who contribute so much to our relations. We’re very proud of the 2.5 million Indian Americans who are there, who really do provide a unique bridge for the United States with our friends in India. We’re also very proud of the hundred thousand-plus Indian students that are here studying in the United States, the largest single group of foreign students. And again, we think that this education bill that’s now pending in the Indian parliament will help to broaden even further the education cooperation in that area.

According to this article, the President will also attend this reception, and that will be unusual.    Obama to attend Clinton’s reception for Krishna

Next Sunday, our Hillary will be traveling to Latin America and the Caribbean again according to this press release.

Secretary Clinton Travel to Latin America and the Caribbean

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
May 28, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Barbados from June 6-10 to participate in the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) and consult with our regional partners on issues of shared interest.

On June 6-8 in Peru, Secretary Clinton will participate in the General Assembly of the Organization of American States General Assembly, the Western Hemisphere’s premier multilateral organization. The Secretary will travel to Ecuador on June 8 and then on to Colombia and she will meet with government leaders in both countries. In Barbados on June 9, the Secretary will meet with leaders of Caribbean nations to discuss issues of mutual interest.

So I guess she will be home again on the 9th or 10th, a Wednesday night or Thursday. Well, not exactly home, but back in D.C.

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About three hours ago, Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela, accompanying Secretary Clinton on her Latin American tour,  tweeted that they were Wheels Up from Andrews Air Force Base. We all, I am sure, wish everyone on board a safe and successful trip. The first stop is Montevideo Uruguay for the inauguration of the new President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica. Then they will head for earthquake-stricken Chile.

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I am so glad Secretary Clinton is going to South America. She certainly has had a busy travel schedule through her first year as Secretary of State, and I was wondering when she would have a chance to visit our neighbors to the south. This briefing outlines some details of the trip which begins Sunday. As always, we all wish her a safe and successful journey.

Special Briefing on Secretary Clinton’s Travel to Latin America

Arturo Valenzuela
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Washington, DC
February 26, 2010
MR. TONER: Good morning, everybody. Very happy to have with us today Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela who’s going to walk us through Secretary Clinton’s travel to Latin America next week. As you know, she’ll be traveling to Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Guatemala – again, from February 28th to March 5th.
And without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Assistant Secretary Valenzuela. Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Good morning. Yes, we’re delighted that the Secretary will be traveling this week to the Southern Cone and then to Central America. As you know, last year the Secretary did travel to Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago for the OAS General Assembly. And this travel this year is a continuation, of course, of our efforts to engage the countries of the hemisphere on a whole multiplicity of issues. As you know, President Obama and the Secretary have pledged greater engagement with the countries of the Western Hemisphere. We’re working on a whole host of bilateral issues with all of the countries in the region.
They’re grouped into sort of three general baskets. The first basket is what you might call competitiveness and on issues of social equity and social justice. The second basket is issues of public security, which is a major concern for most of the countries in the region where we’re trying to look to how we can repackage and rethink the way in which we do our collaborative work with countries in the hemisphere on such things as crime and organized crime and also the counterdrug effort. And finally, we’re concerned about how we can partner with other countries in the region on such issues as democratic governance and how we can have more effective governance in order to enhance the quality of life of the citizens of the hemisphere.
This is actually a very exciting time to go. As you’ll remember, this is – 2010 is the 200th anniversary of the independence of the countries of the Americas. The actual independence in different countries comes at – on different dates. This time around, it’s Argentina – 2010 Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia.
We have common histories of having established in the New World societies based on the concept of popular sovereignty, profoundly influenced by the enlightenment that these are – this is the continent of the republican forms of government, so the 200th anniversary is a very important time. These societies are very similar in many ways: fragments of Europe established in the New World on – in countries with indigenous societies, with forced migration of slavery, with a narrative of emancipation, with a search to try to strengthen the concept of democratic governance, based on the notion of social justice and equal opportunity to everyone. So have common, common sort of goals and history. And this is what we’re trying to do in our engagement with the hemisphere to have discussions that are respectful, that – where we are not going to come down and tell people what they need to do, but rather where we’re going to seek to come up with common solutions to common problems. And that’s what our dialogue will be in the entire – on the entire trip.
We begin in Uruguay on March 1 with the inauguration of President Mujica. This is the second time that the Uruguayans have inaugurated a president of the left, and it should be an exciting time. Uruguay, as you know, is a country with a long and strong democratic tradition. It’s a country that punches way up beyond its weight in terms of its engagement in the world. Uruguayans have always been well thought of, their leaders have been respected. And let me remind you that Uruguay is the second largest contributor to peacekeeping operations per capita of any country in the world. And indeed in Haiti, the Uruguayan contribution before the earthquake to the Haitian stabilization effort through the UN was almost equivalent in terms of its size to that of Brazil, and just a little bit lower than that of Nepal. The three countries were – had over 1,000 troops. And Uruguay continues to be very much interested in working in that regard.
From Uruguay, we travel then to Santiago, to Chile, that same day in the evening, March 1st. She will be meeting with President Bachelet the next day. The Secretary has a relationship with the president. This will be her last week in office. They will attend an event, one of the signal events that – or projects that President Bachelet has to address issues of social inclusion, which has been one of the marks of her government. And then there will be a bilateral meeting with the president-elect, with Sebastian Piñera, who takes office on the 11th of March.
From Chile, the Secretary will travel to Brazil. She will have meetings with President Lula, with the Foreign Minister Amorim in Brasilia, and then travel to Sao Paulo where she will be visiting certain activities in Sao Paulo, particularly an Afro American – an Afro Brazilian university in Brazil.
Then from there, the Secretary travels to Costa Rica for the Pathways for Prosperity meeting, which is a ministerial meeting of hemispheric ministers, and will be discussing many of the themes that I outlined at the top. Pathways is one the Secretary’s signature initiatives. She has expanded this initiative that began earlier to add a whole host of other components, including such things as micro credit, ways in which you can empower women. It all fits in within the theme of trying to look for ways to enhance competitiveness, with a significant component, too, of encouraging private-public partnerships in the search for greater competitiveness and to address issues of social inclusion. Issues like corporate social responsibility, for example, are also on the table.
She will then, on that same day, have a bilateral meeting with President Arias, who is also, as you know, leaving office, and will be meeting with the president-elect of Costa Rica Laura Chinchilla, as well.
And then finally on the final day of her trip, which will be next Friday, she will travel to Guatemala and meet with President Colom in Guatemala, at the same time, with several of the other presidents of the Central American countries, including President Lobo of Honduras, President Funes of El Salvador. President Fernandez is coming from Dominican Republic as well. So this – and President Arias will attend.
The full attendance to that meeting is not quite settled because people have been adjusting their schedules. At any rate, that’s kind of our objective on this trip. We’re very excited about it and the Secretary is very excited about it, and I look forward to taking your questions on the trip.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about two countries that she’s not going to, Argentina and Honduras, and why not?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: On all of these things, it’s always a complication as to how you schedule trips in terms of everything from flight time to some of the other priorities the Secretary —
QUESTION: What’s the flight time between Montevideo and BA?
QUESTION: About 10 minutes?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZULA: My impression, it has to do with —
QUESTION: And the flight time between Costa Rica and Guatemala and Honduras –
QUESTION: — is about?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: The flight to Uruguay is an overnight flight, and so it’s – just in terms of the logistics of the flight, it made much more sense to just go to Uruguay and then have a bilateral meeting with the president of Argentina, and so that will be held on the afternoon of March 1st. This trip was built around the Uruguayan inauguration. So when we looked at the schedule and we saw how can we touch as many of the countries that we can in the Southern Cone around the Uruguayan inauguration, that’s the schedule that we came up with.
And the return trip also, the flight from Sao Paulo to Costa Rica, is something like seven hours as well. So it’s very – it’s a reminder of how large the continent is. And in fact, remember that to travel from Miami to Montevideo is probably equivalent as traveling from Miami to Moscow.
QUESTION: Right. Well then, I mean, you say it was built around the Uruguayan election. It could have just as easily have been built around – I mean, the inauguration – it could have just as easily have been built around the Chilean inauguration, no?
QUESTION: So is there some kind of —
QUESTION: Is there some kind of signal that you’re trying to send here, that —
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: No signal whatsoever, trying to send. It had to do in large measure with the scheduling issues that the Secretary has. And in an ideal world, we would attend all of these inaugurations, but obviously it’s difficult to do that. So when we looked at the calendar, the fact that the Pathways meeting had been on the agenda for some time earlier, and this was the best combination of things. And I think – I’m very pleased with the way in which we were able to sort of, I think, cover all of the interests that we wanted to cover.
QUESTION: Sir, the inaugural events in Montevideo are going to attract leaders from across the region, some of the leftist leaders that have been antagonistic at times with the United States – Morales, Chavez – I think even Raul Castro may come. Is that correct?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s – yeah.
QUESTION: Okay, I’m – will there be bilaterals with some of these people? And in the case of Chavez and Morales, will the Secretary interact with them at events?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Well, precisely because this – the focus of this was to be a Southern Cone trip, the only bilateral that is on the books is with Cristina Kirchner, the president of Argentina.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate on what the two will discuss, then, with the president of Argentina? Will the Falklands figure in pretty highly there? Are you concerned about what’s going on there?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: There’s an ample agenda with Argentina, and I think that with Argentina we’re not going to be discussing just simply bilateral issues but also some of the international issues. The Argentines have been fairly outspoken on issues like Iran and international terrorism. These are questions that we will discuss with them. We will not be discussing the Falklands issue with them. This is a matter for Argentina and for Britain. And it’s not a matter for the United States to make a judgment on.
MR. TONER: Could I just remind folks to give your name and media affiliation?
QUESTION: I’m (inaudible) with CNN en Espanol. Mr. Secretary, yesterday or a couple of days ago, President Kirchner spoke to us on CNN en Espanol and basically said that she was very disappointed of the way President Obama was handling all the issues and all the relationships with Latin America, that everything was very disconnected, and especially the issue with Honduras was really disappointed. (Inaudible) Chavez also said something along those lines. What is the reaction and is an okay environment to talk to Argentinians and kind of like bringing another message after what happened last year?
QUESTION: I don’t know if you can speak that in Spanish also later. Is that possible, please?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Do you want me to do a little bit in Spanish?
QUESTION: No, if you cannot —
MR. TONER: Transcription –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: She’s entitled to – obviously to her opinion on this issue. We just simply disagree. We think that not only have we had a very significant engagement over the past year with countries in the hemisphere while at the same time having to focus on two very difficult and significant crises, the first being, of course, the Honduran coup d’etat that took place last June and then also the more recent earthquake in Haiti, which has really absorbed a lot of our attention and where we see, by the way, significant cooperation across the countries of the Americas, including the contribution that the Argentines have made to the peacekeeping operations in Haiti.
On Honduras, as we can see today, the – one of the reasons the Secretary is participating also in this meeting with the Central Americans is precisely because the Central American countries have taken a very significant leadership role in trying to bring about a resolution to the Honduran crisis. And we see indications now that not only the Central American countries but other countries in Latin America are moving forward to recognizing the Government of President Lobo and to – thinking about reinstating Honduras back into the Organization of American States.
So we see the outcome in Honduras is a very successful case of standing for a very fundamental principle and that is that you cannot tolerate a coup d’etat in a country. This sets a terrible precedent. And in that sense, we join the unanimity of the hemisphere in this regard. But at the same time, a solution had to be found to Honduras. As one Central American president told me in conversations, we cannot afford to have Honduras be Myanmar. We need to work to try to see how we can engage it back in. The election was an election that has been recognized by the international community as a valid one. It certainly reflected the desires of the Honduran people. At this particular point, the steps have been taken to move ahead to restore Honduras to the inter-American system and to fully restore the democratic and constitutional order in Honduras.
QUESTION: But if I can follow up on that, what about just meeting with Cristina Kirchner, what is that meeting going to be after saying that there is disappointment on the region and basically very vocal between Kirchner and Chavez saying that they are not – they are very disappointed with the way President Obama is handling the relationship with Latin America?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Well, when we have meetings, we also have meeting with people with whom we might disagree. In fact, one of the reasons why it’s important to schedule a meeting like this and we offered this meeting was precisely so that we could have an exchange of views on some of these issues. And I think that if that is indeed her position, we would disagree on the way in which the Honduran situation evolved.
But let me stress again that in our dialogue with the Argentines, there are a whole host of things that we’re doing on a bilateral – on the bilateral basis that are very constructive. There is very, very good cooperation on law enforcement issues that I stressed earlier are very important. And at the same time, we’ve been pleased at the votes that the Argentines have taken in the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran. And the Argentine position on international terrorism has been a very good one.
So this is a conversation that we’ll have. I think many things – we share very many things with the Argentines, and we would very much like to be able to strengthen our relationship with Argentina as we move forward.
QUESTION: I want to ask you a question about Brazil (inaudible), although I am from Argentina (inaudible). The question is that – is this: In May, President Lula will travel to Tehran. And yesterday, it was said in this same room that the – although Brazil has a lot of influence, also have to have responsibility. I want to go directly to the point: What kind of conversations are – is going to be with Lula? Are you going to tell him, Lula, you need to press more Iran? What is the real factor in the meeting with Lula in relation with Iran?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Well, as you know, Under Secretary Bill Burns is in Brazil today, and so he’s going to be having conversations with his counterparts on many issues, but also on this particular issue. And the Secretary will have the same conversations there.
And let me make it absolutely clear that we will be telling our Brazilian counterparts that we encourage them to encourage Iran to regain the trust of the international community by fulfilling its international obligations, which we feel that they have not fulfilled. So we will be urging the Brazilians to take a constructive role with regard to their engagement with Iran.
QUESTION: Assistant Secretary, you talk a lot about the common things that the United States has with the region. It seems the region, in recent months, and since this Administration came into office, is feeling a little bit more divided from the United States in that – you know, just last week, countries in the region formed a new regional alliance that left the United States out and included Cuba, for example. There have been divisions over Honduras, some would say disappointments with the U.S. over Honduras. There have been divisions over the base’s agreement with Colombia, disappointments for some countries.
And so they are – in some cases, these countries are forging economic and political relationships that supersede relations with the United States, and some say go against U.S. interests like Brazil and Iran. So does the United States at all feel perhaps that in its effort to sort of stop ordering the region around, it’s also beginning to lose influence in the region?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: I don’t think so, and if you actually go back and look at the history of the relationships between the United States and the region, I can think of many periods where there was a far greater dissonance between the United States and the countries of Latin America. And we can go way back if you want to, but we don’t have time to do that.
But certainly in the 19th century, the United States began, as I said earlier in my remarks on the celebration of the anniversaries of – the 200th anniversary of independence – the United States did support the countries of Latin America against the colonial powers when they were trying to re-impose colonial rule in the region. That was the famous Monroe Doctrine, at that particular time, was to have the European power stay out of the region.
There were – the period of big diplomacy was a very difficult period where the United States actually occupied several of the countries in the region. And then of course, we had the Good Neighbor Policy under Franklin Roosevelt and then the very difficult period during the Cold War. And if I think back at these various particular times and at the difficult moments, even as recently, for example, as the problems that we may have had over the Central American wars, this is a time that’s very, very different.
It’s the post-Cold War era. There really isn’t that much significant difference between the United States and the countries of the Americas. We have very common goals. We’re seeking the same objectives. We want to improve the quality of lives of our people. This is a continent where we don’t have the same kinds of challenges that we have in other places in the world. And it’s one of the reasons why the United States appears to pay less attention to the region at the level of, say, the President.
But that’s not the case. We’re continuously – the fact that we don’t have the problems in the Americas, for example, of nuclear proliferation means, of course, that that’s a whole area that we don’t have to deal with the Americas on. In fact, there’s consensus on so many broad issues. And what we’re looking to that is to sort of strengthen those – that consensus. And I know that there are dissonant voices out there, but let me get to your first observation.
Also, we do not see the fact that the countries of Latin America are trying to put together some of their own mechanisms for integration as, in any way, deleterious to the objectives that the United States are pursuing – quite the contrary. If, in fact, through efforts at integration, they can build better confidence measures between countries, if they can avoid protectionisms which they often have between their countries in order to expand trade, if they can build a better sense of integration, this reduces intrastate conflict. All of these things are important. They’re not deleterious to U.S. interests.
And let me say one final thing. This does not – the fact that they’re talking about setting up some of these other organizations, which they have done in the past as well, does not mean that they’re going to be abandoning the OAS. And the Organization of American States is a qualitatively different kind of institution. It’s one based on treaties. It’s one based on broad agreements like the Inter-American Charter, but also the Inter-American Human Rights Convention, and all of those sorts of things. These are obligated treaties that go way back. And we see an importance now of strengthening, in fact, the Organization of American States. The fact that other institutions arise too is not necessarily a problem.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. TONER: One or two more questions.
QUESTION: To follow up on the —
QUESTION: — last question, but Secretary Clinton last year pointed out that during what she said was a lack of engagement during the previous administration, other countries had made inroads there – China and Iran and I think maybe Russia as well. I can’t remember the exact countries she mentioned. But that – implicit in that is that the U.S. had lost influence in the region, so, I mean, are you gaining back influence, and how?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Well, if we looked at trade flows, if we looked at investment flows, if we looked at cultural flows, if we looked at flows of people, if we looked at such things as remittances – they’re what, $50 to $70 billion in remittances from the United States to the countries of Latin America also show the enormous integration of our hemisphere, and the important role that Latin American immigrants have played in the United States, and in forging greater bonds between our countries. So I see a really strong, strong process of engagement culturally, as well as on all of these other efforts that we’re making.
Now, on the question of China, this has also been a period that’s been very – where Latin America has been very successful economically. The – if we go back to the 1980s, at the time that we talked about tremendous disconnects in the region, we also had societies where you had – economies where you had hyperinflation and stagnation. And the reason why the countries in Latin America were able to resist the international financial crisis was because they did do some fundamental reforms and they began to really export to other countries. And China has become a very, very important exporter destination for the countries of the Americas.
So part of the answer is we want to encourage countries to export, we want to encourage countries to grow, to be more dynamic, to create jobs, and to become more engaged in the international community. So we don’t see that necessarily as damaging to our interests; quite the contrary, successful societies and economies are in our interest. What we would have to worry about would be incursions of countries like Iran. And it’s not quite clear what maybe some of their objectives might be in the region.
But generally speaking, Latin America engaged with the rest of the world – this is why the Chileans have been so successful. The Chileans have, I think, something like 57 free trade agreements with countries across the world, and their economy has grown enormously and they’ve reduced since 1990 poverty rates from 40 percent to 12 percent. It’s an engagement with the world which we welcome.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: The engagement with Iran – can I just ask just one thing?
MR. TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: The engagement with Iran by Brazil, do you see that as helpful to the United States? I mean, I’ve heard conflicting reports that the United States in one way believes that Brazil can serve as an important mediator, in a way between the United States, and perhaps there’s some benefit to Brazil’s having a relationship with Iran. Can you tell me, does the United States see this as a good thing or a bad thing?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY VALENZUELA: Well, let me say this. And in my conversations and other officials of the U.S. Government’s conversations with the Brazilians, they do say that. They say we want to be able to engage because we want to be able to have influence, and by having influence, we would be able to press them.
What we want to try to tell the Brazilians is yes, if you have engagement with Iran, we’d really want to encourage you and urge you to, in fact, use that engagement in a way that you can push the Iranians, in fact, to meet their fundamental international obligations. If you don’t do that, then we will be disappointed. If you do that, then I think that that will be an important step that they can take.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.

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Hillary Clinton to give keynote
speech at Costa Rica event

Hillary Clinton, the United States secretary of state, will be in Costa Rica next week as part of a Latin America tour that also will include Brazil, Chile, Guatemala and Uruguay, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday.

Clinton will visit this Central American country, a close U.S. ally, on March 3, where she will be the keynote speaker at the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Ministerial Meeting. Clinton has said she believes the Pathways initiative, a 14 nation – network to promote the benefits of free trade, will help improve the distribution of economic benefits to women, rural farmers and small businesses, as well as to indigenous and Afro-descendents who have been left on the sidelines of the open market.


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Remarks at the First Diplomacy Briefing Series Meeting, Focused on the Issues and Challenges of U.S. Relations With Latin America


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 11, 2009


MR. CROWLEY: A woman who truly needs no introduction, the 67th Secretary of State and our global rock star, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Just don’t ask me to sing, that’s all I ask.

Well, it is a very great pleasure to be here today to welcome you to the first in a series of diplomacy briefings that we will be hosting here at the State Department. I want to thank all of you for being part of this because it is in keeping with our efforts to reach out and to have a dialogue about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and to seek your ideas as well.

I want to thank Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley for his leadership and everyone who works with him in Public Affairs. Later, you will be hearing from our Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, someone who many of you know, Secretary Valenzuela, and you will be hearing from our Under Secretary for what are called the G family, which has to do with human rights, democracy, women’s rights, oceans, environment – I mean, it’s a very large agenda – Maria Otero. And I just walked in with a longtime friend of mine, Ambassador Ed Romero. Thank you for coming, Ed. We have our newly confirmed Ambassador to OAS, Carmen Lomellin. Thank you, Carmen, for being here. (Applause.) And I’d better stop, because I have so many friends and familiar faces in this audience.

I want to share a few words with you this morning about our approach to our neighbors, our friends, our partners in the Western Hemisphere. But the purpose of this event goes far beyond the important relationships that we have here in the Americas, because we want all of our citizens to be part of a broader foreign policy discussion. Here at the State Department, we want to listen, not just talk, and you’ll have a chance to talk to us as the day goes on, but also to hear your views and ideas.

Later this morning, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with some of our State Department leadership on the way forward in Afghanistan and pursuant of the President’s policy. You’ll be able to discuss ways that the United States intends to expand global economic opportunity and ensure citizens’ safety. We also have some community activists and students listening from New York City, San Antonio, Texas, and Miami, Florida. So we are also using technology to bring us together. The Western Hemisphere, we decided, was a fitting place for us to start this effort because of our deep ties, our shared history, so many familial and cultural connections. We are connected by geography and history, by shared challenges, and a common future that we all have the capacity to help shape.

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.

So just to end, just three brief examples. We are, as you know, working to support the Mexican Government in their brave fight against the drug traffickers and the criminal cartels. I really commend not only the Mexican Government, but so many Mexican citizens who have withstood the onslaught of horrific violence. But it’s not only that we’re providing more military equipment or training; we’re looking for ways that we can cooperate on bolstering institutional support for peace and justice, for human rights and democracy. And it is a long-term commitment.

When I went to Mexico early in my term, I said – and it was somewhat controversial here in the United States – that we bore part of the responsibility for what was happening to Mexico today, that it was our drug demand. It was a lot of our policies that unfortunately had helped to fuel this assault on the government and the people of Mexico. But we also have this youth alliance. And we sent some of our young entrepreneurial technophiles down to Mexico – you’ll meet some of them later today – to develop with young Mexican activists a network where anonymous reports of criminal activity and official corruption could be reported. And we were able to put this together with the help of the government, with the help of some of the biggest business leaders in Mexico to use technology to leapfrog some of the challenges that people who want to stand up against both crime and corruption face today.

And finally, we had an event at the United Nations General Assembly where we shone a bright spotlight on some of the policies that are homegrown in Latin America that are being adopted in the United States and elsewhere in the world – programs that are real pioneers in Mexico, in Brazil, in Chile to encourage families to keep children in school, to bring children to their health exams. By empowering families with cash payments to be able to afford to do what will be in the long term interest of their children and their children’s future, it not only helps individual children, but it creates a demand for these services from the community level up. So we’re optimistic that with new tools, new techniques, new ideas, we’re going to be able to revolutionize some of what has been the most intractable problems that we’ve faced in Caribbean, in Mexico, Central America, South America.

So with that, let me welcome you to the State Department. I think we’re going to take a couple of questions. And I am very pleased that you will later hear from my friend, Maria Otero, the first Hispanic under secretary in the State Department’s history, which I was shocked to learn – (applause) – and Arturo Valenzuela, who many of you know, a true Latin Americanist who I enticed out of the joys of academia to work 18 hours a day. You’ll hear from Assistant Secretary Lou C.deBaca, who we also recruited to lead our efforts on human trafficking, the modern day form of slavery, and so many others who are part of the leadership team here at the State Department.

So let’s get to your questions.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the first one we’re going to take is from Luperon High School in New York City.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hello, New York City. Can they hear us? Well, we have work to do on technology here at the State Department. (Laughter.)

MR. CROWLEY: Why don’t we take a question from in here. Yes, ma’am.

QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary.


QUESTION: My name is (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: I can hear you.

QUESTION: My question is American investment in China, how help inspires the Chinese miracle? What will happen with China now that it’s cheaper to make products in Mexico and India, greater than China?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that we should be positive about the growth in the Chinese economy. The Chinese are lifting millions of people out of poverty, which is a very important goal. We know that there are many problems that the Chinese economy poses not only to the United States, but to Mexico and others.

But I want to start from the point that here we are in the midst of a global economic crisis, and we need all the growth we can get because that will eventually help every country be able to overcome this recession, since we are so interdependent. I think it’s also important to say that I think that the North American market, of which Mexico is such a central part under NAFTA, is going to remain strong. The fact that goods can be manufactured and assembled in Mexico, cutting down on transportation costs, cutting down on the carbon footprint, which will become an even more important consideration in the years ahead, means that we’re going to continue to import and export to and from Mexico.

I think we also can do more, working with our Mexican partners, to increase the capacity of the Mexican economy so that they can export even a greater range of goods, because the best answer for Mexico and the best rebuke of the drug traffickers is to increase the economic prosperity of the people of Mexico. And I am committed to doing that and I think that other countries like China can grow. But Mexico will remain a critical partner to us in trade and economic well-being for many, many years to come.

MR. CROWLEY: The next question we’ll take here from (inaudible.)

QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary. Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Rose Marie Segero. I’m the president of Hope for Tomorrow. I live in Washington, D.C., but I’m originally from Kenya.

I – mine is not a question. I just want to thank you, Madame Secretary, for the wonderful work you are doing. Our organization focus on violence against women and empowering women. We were in Africa and around the world talking about women issues. Thank you so much. You have taken it as a Secretary of State, a mother, and a parent. So the only thing I want to emphasize on is to put more emphasis on putting (inaudible) for empowering women. When you empower women, you empower the whole world. So thank you for empowering us.

And there is a message here for you for more information. I just wanted to be in your presence and thank you so much today for this wonderful event. And the collaboration is the most important thing of collaborating with civil society, private sector and you know problems affecting the world. Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you so much. (Applause.) And of course, you could not talk about an issue that I was more passionate about than empowering women and providing more economic opportunities for women. I mentioned Pathways to Prosperity, but of course, all kinds of microfinance programs, training programs, skills programs are really at the forefront of our approach because we agreed that when you empower women, you really give the entire family a better economic future, and that’s what we’re committed to doing. Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: The next question we’ll take from the University of Central Florida.

QUESTION: Good morning. My name is Susana Molina and I’m from the University of Central Florida. My question is: Is democratic progress in danger by social unrest and the rise of the left in Latin America? Whether yes or no, how do these developments affect U.S. interest?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Great question, and I think the University of Central Florida may be in Orlando, not Miami. Is that right? (Applause.) Yes.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I’ve – we have to coordinate our facts here. But that’s a really important question. I feel so strongly that we have to support the rights of all people to voice their opinions, and we want to further economic equality, not just prosperity, because for too many years, prosperity has increased in Latin America without being equally distributed. We want to build a strong base of democratic support for fundamental freedoms of all people, and governments need to be effective, accountable, and responsive to the needs of their citizens.

And I said earlier in my remarks that you really have to be supporting the entire institutional foundation for democracy. And we do worry about leaders who get elected and get elected fairly and freely and legitimately, but then, upon being elected, begin to undermine the constitutional and democratic order, the private sector, the rights of people to be free from harassment, depression, to be able to participate fully in their societies.

So I worry about how we get back on the track where we recognize that democracy is not about individual leaders. It is about strong institutions. Good leaders come and go. Obviously, we’ve had our own experience in this country with that. And so we need to make it absolutely an article of faith that any leader elected must not just further his own position and his power base, but respect the rights of the people who elected him and build up the democracy so that democratic development and economic development can go hand in hand.

I mean, obviously, we have expressed our concerns about Venezuela, about Nicaragua. We will continue to express our concerns, because it’s important that we sound a strong call to people and to leaders to really stay on the path of democracy. So I thank you for your question, and obviously, we all hope in the not-too-distant future to be able to see a democratic Cuba, something that would be extraordinarily positive for our hemisphere. (Applause.)

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take the next question over here.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)


QUESTION: I have a concern because in the trafficking of passports from – especially from China, buying basically different – I don’t know if the State Department is doing any investigation or not – from different nations. And that seems to be like, once they buy a passport from, let’s say, a nation down in Venezuela, Bolivia, and they sell a business which seems to be a front for a – behind giant economic enterprise on there. So is the State Department doing some investigation on – another question also is the – in term – the penetration, basically, of China and other nations like Iran from Latin America. Of course, you mentioned Bolivia – I don’t think you mentioned Bolivia. You should also mention Venezuela, Bolivia, well – as well as other nations that are basically (inaudible) international, basically, security issue that I’m very concerned.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I thank you for raising this. We’re concerned too. In speaking to a number of the Central American countries, they have reported to us large numbers of people being trafficked into their countries, particularly Chinese, but not exclusively Chinese. And we do need to redouble our efforts to try to help our friends in Central America deal with this. I was told in one of the countries that there is a large detention area – detention center which has hundreds and hundreds of people who are there illegally from China.

So this is a problem that is affecting a number of our friends, and we are working with them to try to provide more resources and support to help them deal with it. And as you point out, we have no problem with any country such as China engaging in economic activities – business, commerce – with any country anywhere. But we do want governments to drive hard bargains. We don’t want to see corruption that benefits the fortunes of a few leaders and undermines the sustainability of the economy and the environment and the natural resources of any country.

We also are well aware of Iran’s interests in promoting itself with a number of other countries – Venezuela and Bolivia, as you mentioned – and we can only say that that is a really bad idea for the countries involved. And we hope that there will be a recognition that this is the major supporter, promoter, and exporter of terrorism in the world today. The Revolutionary Guard of Iran, which is increasing its control over the country because of the elections, which were a stark example of the abuse of human rights in action, is deeply involved in the economy as well as the security issues of Iran. And I think that if people want to flirt with Iran, they should take a look at what the consequences might well be for them, and we hope that they will think twice, and we’re going to support them if they do. (Applause.)

MR. CROWLEY: Unfortunately, the Secretary is running short of time. Our last question for her will come from Trinity there in San Antonio. Go ahead.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, Trinity. I’ve been there. I love your campus.

QUESTION: Thank you. Good morning. Secretary of State Clinton, I along with millions of others who call this country home am the child of immigrant parents. Many of us have, if not experienced a migratory event, have lived the experience through our parents or family members. For us, this experience is very real. What are your efforts, if any, to humanize the relationship between Washington and Mexico and to steer the rhetoric that is used to discuss the difficult issues facing undocumented immigrants in a more positive direction? (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I’m sure you know, both President Obama and I are very committed to comprehensive immigration reform, and the President has said that we will be able to deal with this very important issue next year. And I think it’s absolutely imperative that we do. I’ve had a number of comprehensive, in-depth meetings and discussions with my Mexican counterparts, and it is, of course, a great concern to Mexico, to Central America, and even parts of South America.

We have to have a rational, compassionate, pragmatic, humane immigration policy. And we have a lot of good ideas about how to do that. We just have to make the case that our relationship with Mexico in particular, but with other countries as well, has to operate on multiple levels at once. And we just cause a lot of difficulties, it costs a lot of money, it is often very damaging to hardworking people here in this country to have the kind of immigration laws and their enforcement that we currently have.

Now, you have to enforce the laws and you have to protect your borders, and we just heard it’s not just hardworking people from Mexico or Guatemala who want to come for a better life. People are being smuggled into those countries to be smuggled into the United States for all kinds of purposes. So we do have to have laws, but we need to have the kind of comprehensive immigration reform that President Obama championed, that I’ve advocated, that we think could help us not only resolve the problem going forward, but send a very clear message to the millions of people here that if they meet certain conditions, they will be able to be on a path to citizenship.

So there’s a lot to do, but it remains one of our highest priorities, and it is an issue that I hope we will turn to in 2010. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)


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The Daily Appointment Schedule for today, finally posted and distributed at 12:37 p.m. EST,  shows the following:

Daily Appointments Schedule for December 11, 2009

Washington, DC

December 11, 2009


9:20 a.m. Secretary Clinton delivers Remarks at the First Diplomacy Briefing Series Meeting, Focused on the Issues and Challenges of U.S. Relations with Latin America, at the Department of State.


According to  Reuters:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the first conference in the State Department’s diplomacy briefing series on the “Issues and Challenges of U.S. Relations with Latin America” at the State Department in Washington December 11, 2009.

This topic comes up not a minute too soon for me, seeing that we have a scant 20 days left in the year 2009, and I have been PRAYING that the SOS would address Hemispheric issues before the year’s end.

It is high time that we turn our sights to Latin America, and I am overjoyed to see that the Secretary is doing so.  Thank you,  Hillary!

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