The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, today highlighted the role played by the Organization of American States (OAS) in the hemispheric context, putting emphasis on the value of multilateralism for the region, and expressed her support for the process of strengthening of the Organization, in an address to the Permanent Council during a protocolary session held at the headquarters of the hemispheric institution.
“The OAS continues to be an essential forum in the hemispheric context. And that is why we must work to strengthen it,” said the Chilean leader. Along similar lines, President Bachelet expressed her support for the debate on the Strategic Vision underway in the Organization at the initiative of the General Secretariat. “We support and welcome the strategic vision proposed by my fellow Chilean, the Secretary General of the OAS, my dear José Miguel Insulza,” because “this vision represents the challenges that we face in strengthening multilateralism and collaboration between states,” she said.
The President of Chile said her country recognizes the work of the OAS in the protection of human rights and in democracy, combating drugs, and working toward hemispheric security and integral development. On referring to the differences that exist between the countries of the Hemisphere, she said “despite legitimate differences, we agree on something essential: the need to generate, from coordinated state action, growing levels of equality, social justice and wellbeing for all the inhabitants of our countries,” she said. In that sense, she added that while she does not believe in “unequivocal formulas,” she expressed her support for “convergent dialogue” such as that shown in the last OAS General Assembly held in Paraguay, with the central theme of Development with Social Inclusion.”
In analyzing the regional context, the Chilean leader expressed her support for the process of dialogue between the opposition and the government in Venezuela, in the context of respect for institutionality and the rule of law. “I welcome, also, the declarations of the Secretary General during the 44th General Assembly, in the sense of reactivating the dialogue so that this situation can be resolved in a consensual, solid, and lasting manner,” she said. She then added: “above all we believe firmly that the international institutions should be a support in this political and civic process of the Venezuelans themselves, thus contributing to understanding, peace, and democracy.”
President Bachelet also referred to the situation of Argentina and the renegotiation of its debt, an issue that will be analyzed this Thursday, July 3 in a Meeting of Consultation of Foreign Ministers of the OAS at the headquarters of the hemispheric Organization. “I want to express our concern at the obstacles that the sister Republic of Argentina has faced in the renegotiation of its sovereign debt,” she said. “We cannot allow speculative agents to put at risk the agreements reached between debtors and creditors, affecting global financial stability. We hope a prompt and effective solution can be found to this serious problem that faces Argentina,” she added.
In another point in her address, the Chilean President said that during her mandate she faces the task of implementing an “ambitious reform program.” “We are talking about social, economic, and political reforms, that ensure the conditions for social cohesion and investment in growth and productivity that allow us to achieve full, inclusive and sustainable development,” she said. Moreover, she highlighted in particular the importance of implementing reforms in the areas of education, the tax system and constitutional reform, the latter “in order to broaden and deepen our democracy and improve the mechanisms for participation and representation.”
Finally, President Bachelet urged renewed efforts to achieve gender equality, and praised the work of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the OAS in this effort. “If we are talking about gaps in equality, without a doubt in gender matters we have a wide gap to close. Because in social, cultural, economic and political terms, our societies owe a debt to their women.”
In his welcoming address for the Chilean President, Secretary General Insulza expressed his “personal satisfaction at welcoming my fellow Chilean to this house, which is the House of the Americas.” “The Americas receive you, Mrs. President, as the hemispheric leader who consolidated a broad political front in your country and, with it, the powerful social movement which brought you to the presidency with the highest vote total to date for a candidate in Chile,” said the OAS Secretary General.
Secretary General Insulza recalled that during the first government of President Bachelet, relations between the Republic of Chile and the OAS were “vigorous and fruitful.” “We are sure that during this, your second term, these relations will continue growing and becoming stronger. Chile has ratified a good part of the instruments of the Inter-American system and is supporting the instruments deposited at the OAS. We are thankful and encouraged by this effort,” added the Secretary General.
Moreover, the OAS leader praised the reforms being undertaken in Chile, at the urging of President Bachelet. Upon concluding his address, she wished her “success in the unity and stability that Chileans built after, with so many sacrifices, -many of which you yourself experienced directly-they were able to recover democracy in their country.”
For her part, the Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia and Chair of the Permanent Council, Sonia Johnny, welcomed the President of Chile ”from the bottom of my heart” and praised the policies of social inclusion that have been promoted by the South American leader. The Chair of the Permanent Council highlighted in particular the role played by President Bachelet at the head of UN-Women, an organization she lead between 2011 and 2013, and emphasized the efforts of the Chilean politician to increase the political participation of women, and end gender violence.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.