“The last decade has been a story of democracy and economic achievement in Latin America and the Caribbean."
Promoting democracy world-wide remains a key U.S. priority, not only because democracy promotes fundamental values such as respect for human rights, but also because democratic governments promote more stable, inclusive societies and create the best conditions for prosperity.
In democratic societies, voters hold governments accountable for their well-being. As a result, genuinely democratic governments encourage participation from all sectors of society, enable the formation of capable, reliable, and transparent institutions, ensure the rule of law, independent judiciaries, free presses, and strong civil societies and private sectors. These institutions in turn protect democracy from those who might seek to weaken or trample upon it and create the conditions for broad-based economic growth and development.
And this is largely what we’ve observed in most of the Western Hemisphere since the turn of the millennium. “The last decade has been a story of democracy and economic achievement in Latin America and the Caribbean,” writes Secretary of State John Kerry in a recent opinion column. “This transformation didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen by accident. Rising prosperity was produced by sustained efforts to open and integrate markets, encourage innovation, and recognize that a society achieves real prosperity and economic stability by embracing inclusiveness.”
As a result, the region’s economies grew at a rate of 4 percent a year and lifted more than 73 million people out of poverty.
Nonetheless, the job is not finished yet, wrote Secretary Kerry. “The path we need to follow is crystal clear. Leaders across the hemisphere need to set aside racial differences in favor of inclusiveness, advocate for the rights of women, and recognize that sexual orientation is a private matter. They must build on economic progress by opening markets to free trade and expanding opportunities for young people eager to enter the work force.”
The United States offers its support to regional initiatives like the Inter-American Social Protection Network to promote best practices on social protection; through direct investment, such as our multi-year program with Colombia to improve access to justice and combat human rights violations in areas recovering from conflict; and through programs like the 100,000 Strong in the Americas student exchange initiative.
Accountable, democratic governance is the surest way to expand social and economic opportunities and attain inclusive development. The United States is committed to working with our partners to achieve these goals.