Los Angeles, California, June 08, 2022

The Government of Colombia considers that, as a result of the three crises that have recently occurred, causing great damage to all the nations worldwide, and – particularly – with dire consequences for the Americas, such as the COVID-19 crisis, Russia’s war against Ukraine and the acceleration of the effects of climate change, not only considering the loss of several million lives, but also the destruction of wealth, the loss of millions of jobs, a lower growth rate, an unprecedented increase in inflation, an increase in extreme poverty and a loss of confidence in democracy and institutions on the part of our citizens.

For that reason, it is necessary that when we talk about the desire to be united, we understand that it means a commitment to achieve both the conditions of confidence for investment and economic development, as well as to be united to build a hemisphere with better conditions for sustainable and equitable development. A prosperous and democratic hemisphere.

Democracy is a right: a right of one billion citizens living in this hemisphere. Representative democracy is a condition for the exercise of all freedoms: of thought, participation in politics, of expression, religious creed, freedom in all areas of economic and social life. And it is for that reason that the desire to be united cannot, in any way, ignore the need for everyone to be able to progress, bearing in mind that only through democracy can that progress be guaranteed in the hemisphere.

Only when there is democracy we can find a guarantee of respect for human rights and the right to freedoms of citizens! Only where there is democracy, there is transparency in the use of public resources, for the welfare and the common good, to make the State work for the common good! For that reason, the hemisphere needs to have more OAS, and not less OAS. We need a strengthened OAS that guarantees the implementation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which was approved by all of us in 2001.

There has been no presidential summit after 2001 that has repealed that Democratic Charter. The problem is not the OAS, but the lack of democracy that troubles several countries in the hemisphere. Obviously, we have to look for scenarios where we can sit, all of us who are represented here, and also those who are not represented here, to share experiences, to help each other, through greater cooperation, in order to overcome the effects of these three crises to which I have referred and to ensure that there are short- and long-term solutions, that guarantee us that labor inclusion and higher levels of well-being.

But these spaces for dialogue and sharing together must be achieved within the OAS and coming from the OAS. The United States, and all other governments, we need to facilitate these spaces for dialogue, complementarity, and cooperation among all the countries of the hemisphere. But such cooperation and unity cannot be done at the cost of ignoring the ethical imperative and the imperative of respect for freedoms and the guarantee of human rights.

Democracy requires alternation in power, it requires the right of citizens to freely and transparently elect their leaders. Democracy requires elections that include electoral observation commissions.

Democracy is the only way to ensure that the issues of exclusion by gender, by ethnicity can be solved and, of course, that so many informal populations that are suffering unprecedented levels of poverty in our hemisphere can be incorporated. For that reason, Colombia believes that strengthening the OAS must be the commitment of all the governments represented here.

As the representative of the Argentine government pointed out, there are undoubtedly other organizations and other forums such as CELAC, but – unfortunately – CELAC does not include all countries. If we want to talk about a united hemisphere, we must look for scenarios that equally include all participants. And today, CELAC excludes a significant part of North America, when what we want is to talk about a hemisphere that advances united towards progress, towards democracy, towards well-being, towards the elimination of poverty and towards the guarantee of respect for human rights.

Today, the challenges of our hemisphere are very great and we have to take better advantage of this market of 1,000 million people and the opportunity to develop value-added chains and achieve truly integrated economies, for prosperity, employment and greater well-being of all the Americas.

Therefore, the union of all countries cannot go against the conviction of defending democracy. Countries where there is no democracy are suffering from the permanent migration of their citizens and that migration affects us all: each one in different ways. Colombia, in particular, is greatly affected by migration from Venezuela and other countries. In such a way that united – without a doubt – we can move forward, but also, united we need to defend freedoms, Human Rights and that democracy so necessary in our hemisphere.

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