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"Democracy has swept every country but one [Cuba] in the Americas, giving people a vote and a voice in their future. Decades of coups and civil wars have given way to stability, peace, to free markets and to the search for social justice and a cleaner environment. The electricity of change is surging throughout our hemisphere."

President Clinton
Mexico City
May 7, 1997

By promoting equitable and sustainable development within the Western Hemisphere, President Clinton has strengthened stability and promoted democracy, the expansion of economic opportunity and the social and environmental concerns of Latin America. Under President Clinton's leadership, the United States has become a catalyst for peace and cooperation, laying the groundwork for a new era of hemispheric relations characterized by greater integration and genuine partnerships. Our shared political values and a common commitment to open markets unite the region and prepare us to meet the challenges of the next century.


Strengthening Western Hemisphere Cooperation

  • Hosted the first Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994, which led to the adoption of a Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action that promotes hemispheric cooperation on a full spectrum of political, economic, security and social issues. A second Summit was held in Santiago, Chile, in 1998, and accelerated implementation of the Plan of Action.
  • Worked to strengthen the Inter-American System and the Organization of American States to provide leadership and follow-up to Summit initiatives and to serve as a rallying point for the preservation and protection of democratic institutions in the Hemisphere.
  • Worked with the Bolivian government to ensure the success of the 1996 Sustainable Development Summit in Santa Cruz. Vice President Gore led the U.S. delegation.
  • Provided technical and financial assistance to judicial reform efforts intended to promote just, efficient and modern legal systems in Latin America; promoted establishment of the regional Judicial Studies Center to act as a research center and information clearinghouse on judicial reform.
  • Negotiated and signed the Inter-America Convention Against Corruption, a path-breaking agreement that sets new international standards by committing signatories to cooperate in investigating, prosecuting, and eliminating corrupt business practices. Negotiated and signed OAS conventions on firearms and transparency in arms acquisition.
  • Held the Vital Voices of the Americas conference in Uruguay in 1998 with the First Lady's leadership - to promote the participation of women in the political and economic sectors of Latin America. Additional conferences were held in the Caribbean, Brazil, Guatemala and Bolivia.
  • Developed a new era in hemispheric security relations through military-to-military consultations, expanded confidence and security building measures, and the meetings of mainly civilian Defense Ministers at Defense Ministerial of the Americas meetings in Williamsburg, Virginia , Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil.

Promoting Peace and Democracy

  • Promoted free and fair elections throughout the Hemisphere, including Mexico, Venezuela, Suriname and the Dominican Republic, by offering support to both the electoral process and the presence of international observation delegations. United the Hemisphere's major democracies to protect democratic initiatives under stress and safeguard the integrity of elections in Guatemala, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador and Haiti.
  • Solidified close bilateral cooperation with Mexico to encourage electoral reform prior to the 1994 Mexican elections and subsequent reforms up to and following the 2000 elections.
  • Helped negotiate an end to the thirty-year Guatemalan Civil War, in concert with an international "group of friends," while providing financial support for the peace process.
  • Responded to Peru's political crisis in 2000 by supporting the OAS reform process to promote freedom of expression, electoral reform, judicial reform and protection of human rights.
  • Worked with regional partners in South America to stop April 1996 and May 2000 coup attempts in Paraguay to support the democratic government and responded quickly in 1999 to the assassination of Vice President Argana and the subsequent civil disturbances.
  • Worked with regional partners to roll back the January 2000 coup in Ecuador and help restore constitutional order through the accession of the Vice President.
  • Assembled a 30-country multinational force under United Nations aegis that restored to power Haiti's democratically-elected government in 1994 and continued to support democratic consolidation and institutional development.
  • Worked with other regional governments in order to halt the 1995 border war between Peru and Ecuador, monitor the disputed border area through the Military Observer Mission Ecuador-Peru (MOMEP), and broker a definitive solution to the longstanding territorial dispute.
  • Implemented the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act designed to pressure the Cuban regime to enact meaningful political and economic reform through tough economic sanctions, in order to support the Cuban people in their struggle for democracy and a higher standard of living.
  • Crafted policy responses to promote democratic institutions in Venezuela and bilateral and multilateral cooperation with the Venezuelan government.

Expanding Prosperity

  • Led a bipartisan coalition to win approval and implement the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating American jobs, reducing trade barriers, safeguarding the integrity of our financial institutions, and protecting the safety of our workforce and the health of our environment.
  • Launched the negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas at the First Summit of the Americas in 1994 and established a completion date of 2005.
  • Marshaled international support for the Mexican economy following the peso crisis of 1995, for the Brazilian economy after the Asian economic crisis spurred a downturn in 1998-1999, and for the Argentine economy experiencing turmoil in 2000.
  • Won approval for Caribbean Basin Initiative enhancement legislation to promote economic prosperity in Central America and the Caribbean.
  • Launched negotiations for a comprehensive bilateral Free Trade Agreement with Chile.

Strengthening Alliances, Building Partnerships, and Responding to Hemispheric Needs

  • Completed the implementation of the 1978 Panama Canal treaties, guaranteeing a seamless and secure transfer of control of the Canal to Panama on December 31, 1999.
  • President Clinton traveled to Cartagena, Colombia in August 2000 to support the Colombian Government's comprehensive, integrated strategy for dealing with surging coca production, an economic recession and negotiations to end its long civil conflict and to lead a bi-partisan effort to provide financial support for Plan Colombia.
  • Responded to Hurricane Mitch devastation in Central America with emergency relief assistance and then, working with the Congress, provided $759 million in reconstruction aid. Provided emergency aid to Belize in the wake of Hurricane Keith.
  • Strengthened bilateral relationship with Mexico through progress on migration, the environment and U.S.-Mexican border infrastructure.
  • Developed close bilateral relationship with Brazil through efforts such as the marshaling of U.S. government support for Brazil's Alcantara space launch facility.
  • Strengthened bilateral relations with countries of the Southern Cone by including leaders of Brazil, Chile, and Argentina in the Progressive Governance Conferences in Berlin, Florence, and New York.

Combating Threats

  • Reduced drug cultivation and processing dramatically in Bolivia and Peru.
  • Improved interdiction through multilateral air, sea and land efforts - highlighted by the establishment of Forward Operating Locations for U.S. counter-drug aircraft in Ecuador and the Netherlands Antilles.
  • Expanded regional anti-money laundering efforts and precursor chemical activities, while actively pursuing the extradition of drug traffickers and other organized crime figures.
  • Worked bilaterally and regionally to combat alien smuggling.
  • Launched the OAS Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism to gain more multilateral cooperation in the counter-drug struggle.
  • Developed comprehensive support package to help Colombia combat the scourge of drug-trafficking.

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