by Under-Secretary of State Marc Grossman, October 16, 2001
Century of the Americas: the Impact of September 11
Marc Grossman, Under
Secretary for Political Affairs
Remarks to the Inter-American Press Association General Assembly
October 16, 2001
I would like to begin
by expressing our appreciation to the Inter-American Press Association
for following through with this event. Your press release reflects our
sentiments exactly: "The annual gathering will have a special significance
this year -- it will ratify the members' commitment to reject violence."
To IAPAs president, Mr. Danilo Arbilla, I say "thank you"
for your decision to proceed. Mr. Arbilla now passes the baton to Robert
Cox of the Charleston Post and Courier. Mr. Cox, I wish you well.
Thank you for the
opportunity to address this group of distinguished journalists, editors
and media owners. The delegates to the general assembly of the Inter-American
Press Association constitute one of the more daunting audiences Ive
faced since becoming Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.
I hope you will let
me introduce my talk today by highlighting the importance to the U.S.
of the expressions of support and solidarity we have received from throughout
the Americas since September 11, and to convey the sense of purpose that
makes us so determined to succeed together.
The outpouring of
sympathy for those murdered was instant, overwhelming and appreciated.
We extend our own sympathy to those countries that lost citizens in the
Citizens from twenty-nine
of our Hemisphere's thirty-five countries, from Barbados to Venezuela,
lost their lives. 117 from El Salvador, over 100 Caribbean nationals,
including 41 from the Dominican Republic alone, 21 from Canada and 18
from Mexico. Canada accepted nearly 250 diverted air flights, hosting
almost 27,000 passengers. If you will indulge me, I must relate to you
a story told to me by a retired U.S. Ambassador who was a passenger on
one of the flights. She and her fellow passengers were overwhelmed by
the outpouring of hospitality and affection from their Canadian hosts.
When the busses arrived to carry them back to the aircraft, there was
an emotional and tearful exchange with the townsfolk. The retired Ambassador
said, "This attack should never have happened, but these days in
Canada were among the most astonishing, human, and uplifting days of my
As President Bush
has stressed, this attack was not against the United States, it was against
all who value freedom.
reaction to this attack has been no surprise. All but Cuba and the FARC
guerrillas saw it for what it was, an assault on our common values; an
assault on innocent people trying to earn an honest living; an assault
on everyones aspirations to live in peace.
On the day of the
attacks, Secretary Powell was in Lima with our partners in the Organization
of American States to adopt a historic charter that declared Democracy
to be a birthright of all the peoples of the Americas. The Secretary learned
about the attacks while meeting with President Toledo, just before the
OAS gathering. He could have headed straight home; everyone would have
understood. Instead, he chose to stay and participate in our Hemispheres
first step toward realizing the vision President Bush and other leaders
outlined at the Quebec Summit: to make this the Century of the Americas
and; and to advance democracy and prosperity in the hemisphere. Secretary
Powell told his colleagues that terrorists could topple buildings and
kill innocent people, but they could not extinguish the spirit and soul
of America or our commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
Some may wonder whether
this vision -- for our world and for our hemisphere -- has been impaired
by the fear terrorists unleashed upon us that day. The answer is no. Consider
the immediate actions taken by the OAS in the wake of the attack. In Lima
the focus of the Hemisphere was resolute and determined support for a
united response. Barely a week after the attacks, the Foreign Ministers
of our OAS partners unanimously approved a resolution calling on member
states to take effective measures to combat terrorism. At Brazils
initiative, members of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance
known as the Rio treaty declared that an attack on one is
an attack against all and agreed to provide mutual assistance against
So our commitment
to this Hemisphere is no less today; in many ways it is more. As President
Bush told employees at the State Department October 4, now is the time
to "take a stand, to seize this moment and to say that out of this
evil act will come good."
I would like today
to outline for you our commitment to work with our hemispheric partners
end the scourge of
advance our mutual interest in promoting prosperity and democracy through
free trade and;
preserve and strengthen the freedoms that make our democracies so dear.
In the Americas, as Quebec and Lima demonstrated, we begin on common ground
-- ground which will not be rocked by the jolt of terror. We are more
united than ever and our joint efforts to defeat terrorism will strengthen
our partnerships, enhance cooperation, and advance shared social, economic
and political goals.
First, let me highlight
our determination to fight terrorism. The OAS Foreign Ministers are taking
action. They have charged the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism
with identifying urgent actions to strengthen hemispheric cooperation.
The Committee met in Washington Monday to enhance cooperation and expertise
among the regions counter-terrorism officials and to develop a comprehensive
hemispheric counter-terrorism framework.
In addition to multilateral
channels of cooperation, leader after leader has offered support. Virtually
every country in the region has expanded efforts to investigate links
between local individuals and organizations and international terrorist
groups. We have seen unprecedented law enforcement and intelligence cooperation.
We have also seen increased determination to go after the drug trafficking
that feeds the terrorists network. Cutting-off the terrorists
finances is just as important to our success as the military campaign
we have begun.
We have received
offers of military assistance from Canada in the North, which has pledged
material and manpower to help prosecute the war, to Argentina in the South,
which has offered to send a mobile hospital to South Asia to help cope
with increased refugee flows. The Bahamas have aggressively scrutinized
suspicious financial accounts. Antigua & Barbuda propose to change
their banking laws.
Our closest neighbors,
Canada and Mexico, have stepped up cooperation with U.S. law enforcement
and immigration agencies to buttress our common security along our long
Presidents Bush and
Fox have charted an ambitious agenda to advance bilateral trade under
NAFTA, expand cooperation in the areas of law enforcement and environmental
protection and explore how to manage the flow of people across our southern
border in the safest, most orderly and humane way possible, while preserving
the integrity of that border. This agenda has assumed heightened importance.
The U.S. Canadian
frontier is the worlds longest non-militarized border. Since September
11, our first priority has been security. U.S. and Canadian border officials
are together on a heightened state of alert. With $1.4 billion in trade
crossing the border every day and 200 million travelers crossing each
year, it is key that, as our Ambassador Paul Cellucci says: "we strike
the right balance between facilitating commerce and preserving security."
U.S. and Canadian border officials, who have for decades enjoyed an extraordinarily
close relationship, are working to increase their capabilities across
But all in the Hemisphere,
very much including the Untied States, must do more. Every nation needs
to ratify the 12 international counterterrorism conventions and enforce
UN resolutions 1333 and 1373. We must also seize this opportunity to fight
against corruption. After all, corruption forms the basis for terrorists
Second, let me now
turn to the importance of free trade to free people. September 11 has
not diverted us from our fundamental purpose of building a more prosperous
and more integrated hemispheric community. As USTRs Bob Zoellick
wrote in days just after the 11th: "Today's enemies will learn that
America is the economic engine of freedom, opportunity and development.
To that end, U.S. leadership in promoting the international economic and
trading system is vital. Trade is about more than economic efficiency.
It promotes the values at heart of this protracted struggle."
Our goal remains
a hemisphere that is united by both shared values and shared prosperity.
That future lies more than ever in preserving and strengthening economic
ties with our neighbors. Free trade has the potential to triple trade
flows among the countries of the Americas within a decade. With NAFTA,
total trade among Canada, Mexico and the United States has more than doubled
since 1994. As President Bush said in Quebec, "the time has come
to extend the benefits of free trade to all our peoples and to achieve
a free trade agreement for the hemisphere." As he said he would in
Quebec, the President is working hard to secure Trade Promotion Authority.
remains firmly committed to achieving a Free Trade Area of the Americas.
FTAA will create the largest free trading area in the world, encompassing
34 countries and 800 million people. Free markets and free trade provide
opportunities and alternatives to all, but especially to the poorest.
Open markets and sustained growth reinforce the habits of liberty, which
in turn sustain both democracy and development over the long-term.
We are also committed
to extending and enhancing the Andean Trade Preferences Act, which has
lead to increased trade between Andean countries and the U.S. in the past
ten years. The Andean region continues to present challenges. It is a
high priority for the Bush administration because it represents a critical
intersection of our trade promotion activities and our efforts to eradicate
the scourge of drugs. Honest people need and deserve an opportunity to
earn an honest living.
We also continue
to work with Congress to secure $882 million for our Andean Regional Initiative
ARI. The ARIs triple focus: democracy, including human rights
and education; development, including trade; and an aggressive and balanced
counter-drug approach offers the best solution for providing a
better future for the people in the Andes.
The ARI is at the
heart of what I might call today our third mission: to advance freedom
and human rights throughout the Western Hemisphere. We must commit to
preserving and expanding the democratic gains made in recent years. The
Democratic charter adopted in Lima last month marked a significant step
forward because the charter makes clear the vital link between democracy,
prosperity and peace and enhances the ability of the OAS to help democracies
in crisis. In adopting it, the members of the OAS reaffirmed their commitment
to ensuring that the hemisphere remains, as President Bush said, a region
that "trades in freedom."
Freedom is now the
most common currency in the region. 34 out of 35 countries are democratic.
Fidel Castro remains on the wrong side of history. The Cuban government
continues to stifle the basic freedoms that people now take as a given
elsewhere in the hemisphere.
Elsewhere the picture
is brighter. In addition to Perus transformational presidential
and legislative polls in March, seven other countries are undertaking
elections this year. Next month, Nicaragua becomes the first to do so
since the signing of the Democratic Charter.
There will be no
better way to celebrate the Charters adoption than through the full
participation of voters in Nicaragua in a smooth, transparent and legitimate
electoral process. The U.S. and other countries are providing assistance
to the OAS, Nicaraguas Supreme Electoral Council, as well as to
local and international NGOs to facilitate this.
The people of Nicaragua
deserve the best possible stewardship of their country at a time when
they face difficult economic challenges and when the world is confronting
an unprecedented threat to freedom and security. While we will respect
the results of a free and fair election, we have serious concerns about
the Sandinistas history of violating democratic principles, basic
human rights, seizing peoples property without compensation, and
ties to supporters of terrorism.
As we encourage more
democracy we must also take care to help those democracies under attack
we are doing that in Colombia. Colombia matters, not only to the
United States, but to the hemisphere. Colombians have long suffered from
the terrorist acts committed by insurgencies and paramilitary groups who
are financed by the drug trade. The United States recently added the AUC
to the terrorist list that includes the FARC and ELN. We have already
taken action to make criminal financial support to these organizations
and to deny U.S. visas to their members.
The strongest tool
against terrorism in Colombia is the rule of law. We will continue to
work with the Government of Colombia to combat the illegal drug trade,
to strengthen the judiciary, and to promote economic development. Colombia
needs the hemispheres support and that of the international community.
The FARC, ELN and AUC must understand that the world has changed since
September 11 and that their terror tactics and involvement in drugs must
stop and that a negotiated peace is the only way forward.
A past president
of this association, David Lawrence, noted that "among the greatest
stories of this hemisphere in recent years has been the strengthening
of democracy." You have played a critical role in developing that
story. Over the past decade and a half, as democracy flourished in the
region, robust and prosperous newspapers, powerful broadcast industries
and new media technologies such as the Internet and satellite broadcasting
have developed. That is no coincidence.
Mr. Lawrence also
noted, however, that there were many still getting used to the idea of
a free media in society. Indeed the hemisphere remains an often-dangerous
place for journalists. According to Freedom Forum, the Committee to Protect
Journalists and others, nearly twenty journalists have been killed in
the line of duty in the Western Hemisphere so far this year. Among them,
Pablo Emilio Parra Castaneda -- a Colombian radio reporter murdered by
the FARC in late June of this year and Jose Duviel Vasquez, News Director
of the Voice of the Jungle, shot to death scarcely a week later by unknown
assailants in an area of Colombia where both guerrillas and paramilitary
The gravity of the
situation for journalists in Colombia was captured in a compelling article
in the Washington Post this past Sunday. But I was struck by what a Colombian
journalist said when he was released after 72 hours of being held by the
ELN guerrillas: "I took the next day off, then I was back to work."
Here in the United
States, news organizations carry-on despite being targeted by unknown
assailants using crude methods of bio-terror like the Anthrax incidents
against American Media in Florida, NBC and now ABC in New York. Todays
terrorists use new media and technologies to disseminate their hateful
ideology, but they would destroy the very purposes for which these information
technologies have emerged: to serve the peoples right to know the
truth and the peoples right to express their views openly.
That is why our commitments
must be firm to foster regional trade and the prosperity it brings,
to strengthen cooperation in the fight against corruption and lawlessness,
and to build on the democratic gains made in recent years to which each
of you here have contributed.
hemispheric cooperation that has emerged since September 11 is contributing
to a genuine sense of community among the governments and peoples of our
region. We are very conscious of the challenges we face -- and they are
serious -- at the beginning of the "Century of the Americas"
but also of the opportunity that is before us.
As of October 17, 2001,
this document was also available online at http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/rm/2001/index.cfm?docid=5401