The vast majority of people in the Western Hemisphere believe democracy remains the best form of government, observed Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a speech to the Conference on the Americas.
“Yet. . .we can’t take the democratic character of this region for granted,” warned Secretary Blinken. “It’s not inevitable. It depends fundamentally on people’s continued belief that they can improve the system from within.”
A key to building peoples’ faith in democracy is to avoid falling into political blocks of left and right, liberal and conservative, and instead focus on what brings us together as democracies, said Secretary Blinken:
“That means recognizing our shared interest in strengthening the pillars of our fellow free and open societies like the rule of law, like respect for human rights, like free and fair elections, a vibrant, independent press.”
On the economic front, open markets and free trade must create broader-based opportunity and improve conditions of workers across the hemisphere. Ways to do this include eliminating the barriers that keep small business from joining the formal economy; combating the corruption that robs the resources and energy of innovators and communities alike; and broadening access to emerging technologies.
Western Hemisphere nations also need to build greater regional resilience to make the hemisphere less vulnerable to supply chain disruptions - one of the most hard-earned lessons of the pandemic.
Finally, “even as we stay focused on strengthening democracies from within,” warned Secretary Blinken, “we need a shared approach to autocracies in the region:”
“And this includes continuing to support the individuals and groups in closed countries who are fighting so bravely to advance human rights and democracy, as we’ve done for decades. We have a responsibility also to speak up and speak out collectively when we see governments weakening democracy at home, clamping down on the free press, threatening political opponents, undermining the independence of the courts.”
“I’m confident that if we embrace. . .what unites us as democracies rather than what divides us. . .we will not only strengthen our individual democracies; we will do better at what is our number-one responsibility, and that is delivering on the fundamental needs and the fundamental hopes of all the peoples in this hemisphere.”