by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, October
Century of the Americas: The Impact of September 11"
By Marc Grossman
Under Secretary for Political Affairs
U.S. Department of State
The outpouring of
sympathy from the people and leaders of the Western Hemisphere for those
murdered on September 11 by Al Qaeda terrorists was instant, overwhelming
and very much appreciated. We extend our sympathy to those twenty-nine
countries in the hemisphere that lost citizens in the Al Qaeda attack.
As President Bush has stressed, the attack was not against the United
States, it was against all who value freedom. This was an assault by international
terrorists on our common human values, an assault on innocent people trying
to earn an honest living, an assault on everyone's aspirations to live
We have received
offers of assistance for the struggle against international terrorism
from Canada in the North to Argentina in the South. Virtually every country
in the region has expanded efforts to investigate links between local
individuals and organizations and international terrorist groups through
unprecedented law enforcement and intelligence cooperation. The Bahamas
have aggressively scrutinized suspicious financial accounts. Antigua &
Barbuda propose to change their banking laws. Canada and Mexico stepped
up cooperation with U.S. law enforcement and immigration agencies to buttress
security along common borders. In Lima, the Foreign Ministers of our OAS
partners unanimously approved a resolution calling on members to act against
terrorism. At Brazil's 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 international terrorism.
Democracy is the
heart of the values that drive the struggle against terrorism. Thirty-four
out of 35 countries in the hemisphere are democratic. Unfortunately, Fidel
Castro remains on the wrong side of history. Elsewhere, the picture is
brighter. In addition to Peru's transformational presidential and legislative
polls in March, seven other countries are conducting elections this year.
Nicaragua soon will become the first to do so since the signing of the
Democratic Charter. The U.S. and other countries are providing assistance
to the OAS, Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council, and to local and international
NGOs to facilitate free and fair elections in Nicaragua. While we will
respect the results of a fair election, we have serious concerns about
the Sandinistas' history of violating basic human rights, and ties to
supporters of terrorism.
We must also help
democracies under attack. Colombians have long suffered from the terrorism
of insurgencies and paramilitary groups financed by the drug trade. We
have criminalized financial support to Colombian terrorist organizations
and denied U.S. visas to their members. We will continue to work with
Colombians to combat the illegal drug trade, to strengthen the Colombian
judiciary, and to promote economic development throughout the region.
Our goal is a hemisphere
united by shared values and shared prosperity. As President Bush has stated,
this is a region that "trades in freedom." Open markets and
sustained growth support long-term development and strong, democratic
societies. President Bush's Administration remains committed to achieving
a Free Trade Area of the Americas. The FTAA will be the largest free trading
area in the world, encompassing 800 million people. This has the potential
to triple trade flows among the countries of the Americas within a decade.
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 26,
2001, this document was also available online at http://usinfo.state.gov/admin/011/lef413.htm