US Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined some of the challenges facing democracy in the Western Hemisphere in a speech Wednesday (20/10) in Ecuador. But he is optimistic that it can be overcome, saying the continuity of democracy supported by ordinary people is very important for a shared future in the region.
These challenges include corruption, civil security, and addressing economic and social problems facing the people.
“The reality is that we often put more energy into strengthening civil and political rights, just as vital and important – free and fair elections, the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly – and less on strengthening people’s economic and social rights, such as strengthening people’s economic and social rights. labor standards, expanding access to adequate education and health, providing more inclusive opportunities,” Blinken said in a speech at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.
“People in our hemisphere demand that we do both,” he continued.
America for the first time made fighting corruption a top US national security interest, Blinken said, as Washington cracked down on illegal financing, and confiscated and froze stolen assets.
Since 2020, the US has invested more than $10 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean through the International Development Finance Corporation. In Ecuador, the US teamed up with Banco de la Produccion to provide a $150 million loan this year to small businesses, mainly those owned by women.
Blinken said these investments were made in a “transparent” manner and they treated local communities as “partners”, a stark contrast to authoritarian governments that plunge countries in the region “into a destructive debt cycle.”
Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency to combat violence when Blinken visited the South American country.
“Security forces carrying out these actions must comply with international standards and be held accountable for not doing so,” Blinken said in a speech as President Lasso said he would deploy troops to the streets to fight drug trafficking.
Apart from democracy and human rights issues, another major focus of Blinken’s trip will be migration, and in Bogota he will chair meetings with foreign ministers from the region on humane migration policies. [my/lt]