Robert Pastor, Director, Latin American and Caribbean Program, The Carter Center
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ROBERT PASTOR, Director, Latin American and Caribbean Program, The Carter Center:
Leaders from throughout the hemisphere will join us to assess the state of the
hemispheric agenda and what precisely can be done over the next couple of years to
give it a push forward.
KEITH PORTER, Producer: Writing a 21st century agenda for North and South
America on this edition of Common Ground.
PASTOR: We would like, however, for the members to step back from all the
border disputes and ask, “is it not time, as we approach the 21st century to finally
get these residues of independence resolved once and for all?”
PORTER: Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people
who shape events. It’s produced by the Stanley Foundation. I’m Keith Porter.
This week in Atlanta, dozens of current and former heads of state from this
hemisphere will join together for a discussion of an agenda for the Americas for the
21st century. Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and U.N. Secretary
General Kofi Annan will also be on hand. The event is being organized and co-chaired
by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford under the auspices of the Carter
Center. Doing much of the work behind the scenes is Dr. Robert Pastor, Director of
the Latin American and Caribbean Program at the Carter Center
PASTOR: A decade ago, Presidents Carter and Ford co-chaired a consultation at
the Carter Center which included 12 presidents and prime ministers and leaders from
throughout the Americas to discuss the major issues of the time, the principle one
being, how to re-enforce democracy in the Americas, but also the debt crisis. They
established a group called The Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government at that
time, which subsequently played a critical role monitoring and mediating the
electoral process in 10 different countries over 15-16 different electoral processes
over the last decade. About a year ago, we decided that the issues on the Hemispheric
Agenda that had been enunciated at the summit of the America’s in December 1994 by
President Clinton and the 33 other presidents and prime ministers who attended the
Miami meeting, that, that agenda had stalled. And the critical question is what could
be done to re-invigorate that agenda. That was really the premise on which our
consultation will be held; that was the premise which led to our meetings in Latin
America as well.
PORTER: Well tell us about the event itself, who’s going to be there, what’s
the format for this?
PASTOR: The event will be on two days, Carter and Ford will be co-chairing it,
but we estimate it could include 15 to 20 of the 27 representatives of the Council of
Freely Elected Heads of Government. Plus a number of incumbent presidents. We expect
President Ernesto Zadillo of Mexico will be attending a small portion, that President
Lionel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, Prime Mister P.J. Patterson of Jamaica;
leaders from throughout the hemisphere will join us to assess the state of the
hemispheric agenda and what precisely can be done over the next couple of years to
give it a push forward.
PORTER: Dr. Pastor, tell us about the fact finding you’ve done. You mentioned
the trip to Latin America. What have you done, sort of in preparation for this event.
PASTOR: Over the last 2 or 3 years we have consulted with council members,
many of who have participated in a number of electoral process monitoring missions
with us; for example in the Dominican Republic and last May in June and July in
Nicaragua throughout the fall and in October we invited many of the representatives
of the council. We used that as an opportunity to discuss the broader range of issues.
There is in the hemisphere right now a sense of great opportunity combined with real
disappointment. Great opportunity stemming from the fact that the hemisphere is now
more democratic, more free market, free trade oriented than ever before in it’s
history. Disappointment that despite that convergence of values and governance there
is so little progress being made in the hemisphere on the key issues of greatest
concern to the nations.
Because of this opportunity and disappointment, we decided to go ahead with the
conference here, but in preparation for it, former President Carter and myself and
many of my staff, took a trip to Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Jamaica. And in Jamaica
to meet with Caribbean leaders as well as the Jamaican leaders, to discuss the full
agenda and to get a better sense of how the issues should be framed and what new
ideas should be explored at such a meeting.
PORTER: Well, I’m wondering now if you give us sort of the broad outlines of
the specific topics that I know will come up during this consultation. Let’s start
off with trade. I guess there is specifically a connection there to the Summit of the
Americas in ’94.
PASTOR: Without question, the Summit of the Americas was, completed its work
with a declaration of 23 goals and many action items, but the heart of their
recommendation, and the most important single one was to call for a free trade area
of the Americas by the year 2005. That is a very significant development. And we
believe that’s the spine of hemispheric relations at this moment. Unfortunately,
there has been almost no progress made towards that goal, since the summits’ declaration
in December 1994. Therefore we want to put this issue at the front of the agenda. The
first and most important step from the U.S. perspective is to get for the President,
fast track trade negotiating authority from the U.S. Congress as well as authority to
deal with the more vulnerable, smaller open Caribbean basin nations, that will give
them some parity with Mexico’s access to the U.S. market, and also some reciprocal
concessions on the Caribbean Basin’s part as well. So the trade issue is the heart of
the relationship right now. Its the issue in which we need to show demonstrable
PORTER: Do you see this becoming a domestic issue, much in the same way NAFTA
did as sort of a divisive issue as we talk about expanding free trade in this
PASTOR: I think the only explanation for why the President did not obtain
fast track negotiating authority right after the Summit of the Americas nearly 2 1/2
years ago was because this is a controversial issue within the United Sates, and
indeed its a controversial issue in many countries in the Americas. I think on the
one hand people in each country understand that freer trade benefits the whole
nations, on the other hand, there are groups in each country that are harmed by the
greater competition that comes from freer trade. And in this debate, between those
who would like to maintain walls to trade and investment and those who would like to
integrate more fully in the regional economy, this debate occurs in very single one
of our nations, and in the United States at this moment. And that’s one of the
reasons why it’s proven difficult to getting this authority. There is a second
related issue and that is whether trade should include elements regarding labor
rights and environmental considerations. The Republicans, for example in the United
States, are very much opposed to including references to labor or environmental
rights, despite the fact that they approved that for NAFTA. The Democrats feel very
strongly that such rights are essential and indeed we should take additional steps
towards strengthening the provisions of NAFTA as it relates to labor and environment.
So this has been still one other area in which the differences have precluded agreement
and consensus in progress.
PORTER: Well the next issue is the drug war and certainly you’ve heard an
awful lot about it around the issue of certification. What do you expect will happen
at the consultation?
PASTOR: We would hope that there will be some discussion about an alternative
to a certification policy. There are some people in the United States who believe
that certification policy is essential to elicit cooperation from Latin American
governments, but most of Latin America is saying something very different. They are
saying that the certification policy actually makes it more difficult for them to
sincerely cooperate with the United States, because it puts them in a junior role
rather than a partnership role in which we are grading them on how well they are
doing. Whereas they know that at least half of the problem of drug trafficking is the
consumer culture in the United States, and indeed if the United States were to be
graded by them, the United States would not come up with a very good grade either.
But most importantly its viewed in Latin America as very insulting, as very paternalistic,
and therefore incompatible with the partnership theme which is at the heart of the
Free Trade area of the Americas, which is at the heart of the idea of invigorating
cooperation among the democracies of the whole region. So our principle goal at the
conference is to explore alternatives to certification and ways to enhance cooperation
between Latin America and the United States in dealing with this problem.
PORTER: On security issues, I’m wondering if you could sort of put on your
professor’s hat for us for a moment and sort of remind our listeners what, if any,
security obligations we have in this hemisphere.
PASTOR: Well, the very first regional collective defense agreement that we
reached in the world since our independence in 1783 was in this hemisphere with the
Rio Pact that signed in 1947. Very few people realize that the Rio Pact, which bound
the United States to defend the hemisphere against external attack, preceded NATO,
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It was the first regional collective defense
organization, and its principle vehicle has been the Organization of American States.
There is no imminent threat of attack against the nations of the hemisphere, but
there is still a collective defense arrangement. There are new kinds of issues
however which need to be addressed within the security context.
PORTER: And what do you think those will be, when you gather these people
PASTOR: I think there are two sets of issues that we hope will be addressed
on the security agenda. The first issue are remaining territorial disputes. That in
many cases go all the way back to independence. Most of the countries in Latin America
still have boundary problems with their neighbors. Now the truth is, that very few of
these problems are on the verge of causing conflicts, although as we recall the
border dispute between Ecuador and Peru led to a serious conflict just a couple of
years ago. And there has been some progress, but not very much, in trying to resolve
that border dispute. We would like however, for the members to step back from all the
border disputes and ask, “Is it not time, as we approach the 21st century to finally
get these residues of independence resolved once and for all?” And if it is such time,
then should we consider a new process for doing so? The Secretary General of the
Organization of American States will be here together with the Secretary General of
the United Nations. Both individuals are very assertive, very much interested in
peace in the hemisphere and in the world. One hopes that perhaps they will come with
some ideas or perhaps might even turn to the Council of Freely Elected Heads of
Government, and say, we need your advice on how to resolve these remaining conflicts
over the next few years. If we could perhaps reach agreement as the century turns,
that would be a good omen for the 21st century. The second issue is, what to do about
arms sales and purchases in the hemisphere. There is a very real prospect that a
desire by Chile to purchase its sophisticated aircraft could precipitate a new arms
race in the southern cone of South America. What a tragedy that would be. As these
countries are making the transition towards democracy, for them to have to divert so
much funds from health and education for the purposes of weapons that are not really
needed in the southern cone anymore.
PORTER: We’re talking in this edition of Common Ground with Dr. Robert
Pastor from the Carter Center. He along with former presidents Jimmy Carter and
Gerald Ford are conducting a major consultation on solutions to key problems facing
our hemisphere. Printed transcripts and audio cassettes of this program are available.
Listen at the end of the broadcast for details. Common Ground is a service of
the Stanley Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts a wide
range of programs meant to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs.
PORTER: Is it appropriate or even possible in a forum like this to discuss
the internal security problems like the Chiapas uprising or what’s happening in Peru?
PASTOR: I think it is appropriate and its possible that certain countries
might want to raise those issues.
PORTER: Again, this is Dr. Robert Pastor. Director of the Latin American and
Caribbean Program at the Carter Center.
PASTOR: And we are obviously going to be very open to whatever items on this
agenda that the countries want to raise. I think most of the democracy in the
hemisphere see these remaining revolutionary movements as anachronisms that impede
their chances of democratizing and improving the life of their countries. But each
problem has its unique quality as well. Chiapas is really a sub-regional issue within
Mexico, so we can understand the Mexican sensitivities for dealing with that in
international forum. On the other hand, the hostage taking in Peru is a genuinely
international concern. And I think the leaders of the council, will certainly want to
condemn such terrorist actions. And encourage the Tupac Amaru to consider what the
Guatemalan and the Salvadoran and the Nicaraguan revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries
did which is come into the political process, rather than to take terrorist action
PORTER: The next item on your agenda is the social agenda, and I know that,
especially here at the Carter Center, together with democratization, the social
issues have been a real concern. Tell us what you think will happen in that area.
PASTOR: Well, the interesting thing about this social agenda is how important
it has grown in the hemisphere as the hemisphere has democratized. What we’re really
seeing is that all of the countries in the hemisphere now are addressing very similar
agendas, which formerly were considered completely domestic. How do you reduce
inequalities within a country? How do you improve employment potential in a particular
country? Improve the quality of education? What to do about those people who can’t
get jobs? How to deal with welfare. This is traditionally a very domestic agenda and
as the countries in Latin America become more democratic, they are facing the similar
issues as well. We hope at the conference that the leaders of those countries will
begin to talk about solutions that they have found that work, problems that have not
found solutions, and see whether or not it’s not possible for those models that are
working very well, to be used elsewhere.
For example in Chile, under the last two democratic governments in the last 6 years,
Chile has reduced its poverty by half, which is quite significant. Under the current
Brazilian President, Fernando Enrique Cordozo, he has emphasized the importance of
education, and of moving educational resources from the universities, which took a
disproportionate amount of resources, to the elementary and secondary school levels
which affect a much larger proportion of the population, and that is viewed as one
very important way for reducing inequalities as well. So what we’re hoping to see is
a discussion of different models that seem to be working, and a refinement of the
nature of the problem so that we can try to find ways to replicate those models in
PORTER: I’m wondering if under this auspices of the social agenda, you’ve
thought about issues of racism or sexism and how those can be addressed in these
PASTOR: Well, I think that are very important issues on the social agenda as
well. I’m sure that we are going to be accused of trying to address too large an
agenda already. Particularly because what we most want to do is not just deliver a
hortatory general consensual statement that says that racism is bad, that education
is good, that drug trafficking should end, that there should be no more corruption.
Such a statement, I think, would be nice, but it unsatisfactory from our standpoint.
What we would most like to see, is some agreement on specific steps in each of these
categories that can permit the hemispheric community to move forward. So, whereas
some of the issues that you just mentioned, we view as very important and we are very
open to specific ideas as to what can be done about them, I think we would find it
far more useful to focus of the specific proposals than to get into a very general
open-ended discussion on problems for which there is no obvious solution.
PORTER: I know you mentioned the U.N. Secretary General was expected to come,
will there be any direct connection with the documents that came out of either the
social summit in Copenhagen, or the Habitat II conference in Istanbul?
PASTOR: Well, the leaders who are coming here will obviously be familiar with
those conferences as well as many others that have been held throughout the world.
PORTER: Including the Rio Conference on the Earth Summit…
PASTOR: Including the Rio conference on the summit as well. So we are anticipating
that they will raise some of these issues, and as I said, to the extent that we can
come up with some specific recommendations on how to proceed, I think we would very
much welcome ideas from the participants.
PORTER: OK, well the last issue is democratization, and obviously you, and
President Carter and many other people have a lot of experience here. Tell us what
you expect to happen there.
PASTOR: Well, there are two generations of issues related to democratization.
The first generation are those issues that we have worked the hardest on for the last
decade. How to help countries to make the transition from authoritarian governments
to democratic governments; how to insure that the electoral process is authored by
all of the political parties in a manner that when the election occurs that all the
actors in a country will view the electoral process as fair and that they will respect
and accept the results. Democracy is not synonymous with free elections but it’s not
possible without them. And so we have placed a great emphasis on the importance of
elections over the last decade. And there are still a few countries in the hemisphere
that have such problems. The most obvious one is the country that has not had real
competitive elections, which is Cuba. But in the case of Haiti and in Mexico, there
remain elections in which major political parties do not feel that the process has
been fair. There are other countries in which serious electoral problems have been
So we imagine talking about those issues, but our major focus on democratization will
be now to shift to what we consider the second generation issues. What is interesting
about the second generation issues which relate to the deepening of democratization,
is that the problems are shared as is the social agenda for all the countries in the
hemisphere, and the problem, the fundamental problem is how do you cleanse the
electoral process of the poisonous effect of money. Now on an issue like that, I’m
afraid the U.S. does not have much to teach the Latin America and the Caribbean, but
it may have something to learn. The nature of campaign finance, of access to the
media, these are issues in which all of the countries in the hemisphere are
struggling for the best models, and we hope that some of those models will be
discussed and that the results will have a big influence on the United Sates as well
as those countries that have not yet found a way to deal with this issue.
PORTER: When you talk about second generation, I’m not sure I completely
understand, is this the building of civil society in democratic institutions beyond
just free and fair elections.
PASTOR: That’s right. The second generation issues are those issues that are
needed to deepen the democratic process. They assume that already the country has
cleared the hurdle of free elections, or elections that are viewed as sufficiently
fair by all of the parties that they participate and they accept the results. Second
generation issues are now, how do we make the process work even better, because we
tend to think as democracy as a static state. But it is not, it is a work in progress.
There is no democracy in the world which is perfect by definition. Every democracy
is struggling through very difficult issues, as is true of the United States. Not
only are we struggling to permit people who are marginalized by society, either for
racial or for immigrant or other reasons to become a part of society, but we’re
struggling to have the electoral process be genuinely meaningful to a larger population,
and that means at this moment, how do you get money out of politics?
PORTER: All right, well Dr. Pastor, lets talk about the follow up. Is there a
follow-up plan, do you have a process in mind for follow-up and do you expect more
consultations like this?
PASTOR: Yes. We do want this conference to lead to very specific outcomes. I
can’t tell you at this moment what those outcomes will be. All I can do is frame the
issues and make some suggestions as to what some of the recommendations might be that
would be considered. But our hope is, that at the conclusion of this conference, that
the council will decide to set off in the direction of trying to implement some of
the recommendations. Much as it did in 1989, when we had also conference on the
hemispheric agenda. One of our major conclusions there for the council was that we
needed to embark on a process of trying to monitor and mediate the electoral process
in transitional countries. This was a unique idea at that moment. No non-governmental
organization had really embarked on a strategy like that before. And the product of
that was that the council then went on to play a pioneering role in Panama, in
Nicaragua, in Haiti, in Guyana, in the Dominican Republic, in Paraguay, in a dozen
countries in the hemisphere; and I think a very critical role in assisting political
parties in those countries to help their country gain an electoral process that would
be successfully accepted by all of those parties. So I think we played a very
important role in taking the Hemispheric Agenda Conference of 1989 beyond just a
consultation to the point that we really implemented real change that affected people’s
lives all over this hemisphere. It is our hope that this consultation will play a
similar role. That when this consultation is over we will take on one or two or
perhaps three issues and pursue them with the vigor that we pursued electoral
democratization in the past decade.
PORTER: That is Dr. Robert Pastor from the Carter Center. For Common
Ground, I’m Keith Porter.
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