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Apr 20, 2009

Declaration signed at summit in Port of Spain

Story PictureAfter years of preparations and negotiations, the Fifth Summit of the Americas, concluded in Port of Spain, Trinidad with a consensus document adopted in an atmosphere of cooperation that had not been experienced among the thirty-four leaders of the hemisphere in the recent past. The summit focused on critical issues such as trade, the war on drugs, climate change, tax havens and others, but what centrally came out was a broader agenda toward the region by the United States. Jose Sanchez looks at the Fifth.

Jose Sanchez Reporting
The historic Fifth Summit of the Americas concluded in Port of Spain, Trinidad on Sunday. Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow, as Chairman of CARICOM was one of five leaders who set the tone for the three day event.

Dean Barrow, Chairman, CARICOM
“We in the Caribbean look forward to at least one positive development from the international crisis, the opportunity for reform of the global financial architecture. We, therefore, particularly welcome the declaration of by the G-twenty of the determination to reform and modernize the international financial institutions to ensure they can assist members and shareholders effectively in the new challenges they face.”

The forty-fourth president of the United States, Barack Obama, had his own message to promote, democracy.

Barack Obama, President, U.S.A.
“We all have a responsibility to see that the people of the Americas have the ability to pursue their own dreams in democratic societies.”

The first plenary session of the summit was held on Saturday at the International Finance Centre where fourteen heads of state spoke.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva wanted the I.M.F. to increase lending to poor countries without the typical conditions attached to the loans. That sentiment was echoed by Patrick Manning after Sunday’s session at the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Centre in La Fantasie, St. Ann’s.

Patrick Manning, President, Trinidad and Tobago
“The declaration of Port of Spain is a document that was negotiated among our technocrats beginning about a year and a half to two years ago. And at the time that document or those deliberations were started, the administrations were different. In the United States there was a different president, different president of the United States and the world situation, especially the world economic situation, was very different from the situation that has now emerged and the situation to which a lot of attention is being addressed worldwide and which also attracted attention of the leaders gathered here in Port of Spain. The declaration of Port of Spain, therefore, does not fully reflect that because of the time it was negotiated and in fact that a conclusion was arrived at prior to meeting of G-twenty countries on first of April in London and our deliberation took that into account and came to the additional conclusion that we were concerned about the allocation of resources to development institutions, particularly the Inter-American Development Bank. We expressed the view that we thought that the I.A.D.B should not be disadvanateged, the rest of the Western hemisphere countries should not be disadvantaged as a consequence of an improper allocation of finance to I.A.D.B. and that time was most appropriate and opportune to recapitalize the Inter-American Development Bank. That was the sentiment coming out of the meeting.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his country would double its contribution to the I.D.B., which would increase the bank’s lending capacity by four million U.S. dollars. The U.S. president also pledged to increase funding.

Barack Obama
“We’re building on our unprecedented efforts in the United States and the work that we did at the G-twenty summit in London to jumpstart job creation; reform a broken financial regulatory system and put our economies on the path to sustainable growth and shared prosperity. The Inter-American Development Bank to increase its current lending level and the United States is launching a new micro finance growth fund for the hemisphere that will make meaningful differences for businesses and entrepreneurs across America.”

Though mutual prosperity and security were at the heart of issues, the thirty-four leaders could not reach one hundred percent unanimity. The group signing was cancelled and so was the family photo. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales long vowed not to sign because of the exclusion of Cuba. Several others rejected some part of the ninety-seven page document. The document was consequentially adopted, which meant only the host’s signature was required.

Patrick Manning
“Some countries had a reservation about some elements of it and that is understandable my dear friends because it is very difficult with thirty-four countries meeting and negotiating, it is a negotiated situation which means that no one country is likely got everything that that country requires. The document that it wages is a compromised document, which met with approbation of some and did not meet with the approbation of others and therefore, what we agreed to do today is to adopt a documeht and in adopting it, we are recognizing that there was not unanimity even though there was indeed consensus on this very important matter.”

Barack Obama
“I did not see eye to eye with every regional leader on every regional issue and I do not adhere is that we will make progress when we’re willing to break free from some of the stale debates and ideologies that have dominated and distorted the debate in hemisphere here for too long. We showed that while we have our differences, we can and must work together in areas where we have mutual interest and where we disagree we can disagree respectfully.”

Patrick Manning
“If I say that I am happy about the outcome of this outcome of this Fifth Summit of the Americas, it would be the understatement of the year. I am extremely pleased at what threatened to be a summit that could have been derailed by the agendas of individuals and individual countries has turned out to be a signal example collaboration of cooperation within the countries in the Western Hemisphere.”

Obama also felt the summit was productive and he learned that promoting U.S. interests and influence in the region can be achieved by following Cuba’s example.

Barack Obama
“It was interesting, in very specific terms, hearing from these leaders who when they spoke about Cuba, talked very specifically about the thousands of doctors from Cuba that are dispersed all throughout the region and upon which many of these countries heavily depend. And it’s a reminder for us in the United States that if our only interaction with many of these countries is drug interdiction, if our only interaction is military, then we may not be developing the connections that can over time increase our influence and have a beneficial effect when we need to try to move policies that are of concern to us forward in the region.”

“The United States remains the most powerful, wealthiest nation on earth but we’re only one nation. And that the problems that we confront, whether it’s drug cartels, climate change, terrorism, you name it. It can’t be solved just by one country. I think if you start with that approach then you are inclined to listen and not just talk.”

The declaration has been adopted but citizens will have to wait to see what kind of child the thirty-four leaders will rear from this adoption. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

The declaration has been adopted, but citizens will have to wait to see what kind of child the thirty-four leaders will rear from this adoption.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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