Condoleezza Rice: 'Economic liberty is the only road to lasting success'

From a speech by the US Secretary of State to the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States, meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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The Independent Online

Over the past three decades, the people of Latin America and the Caribbean have transformed our hemisphere through their desire to live in liberty. They have replaced dictatorship with democracy, conflict with commerce, and widespread social misery with increased social justice.

Over the past three decades, the people of Latin America and the Caribbean have transformed our hemisphere through their desire to live in liberty. They have replaced dictatorship with democracy, conflict with commerce, and widespread social misery with increased social justice.

The members of the OAS now share a strong consensus that political and economic liberty is the only road to lasting success. The divide in the Americas today is not between governments from the left or the right. It is between those governments that are elected and govern democratically - and those that do not.

This is not to diminish or underestimate the hurdles of development that remain in our path - problems like poverty and inequality and weak democratic institutions. Our challenge today is one of inclusion -- the inclusion of all democratic citizens in the solace of safe communities, in the fruits of economic growth, and in the promise of social mobility.

We must act on our Charter to strengthen democracy where it is weak. In places like Bolivia, and Ecuador, and Haiti, the institutions of democracy have perhaps brittle roots. To help democracies in our hemisphere, in places like this and in others, to find a path to lasting success, this organisation must embrace also the legitimate contributions of civil society.

Of course, our hemisphere will not deliver the benefits of democracy overnight. Indeed, it was only in my own lifetime that the United States guaranteed the right to vote for all its citizens. So I understand the impatience with the pace of democratic reform that many people in this hemisphere express.

This sense of impatience is also a powerful engine for hope. After all, it was impatient patriots who led the democratic transformation of Latin America and the Caribbean. It was impatient patriots who created more economic growth last year in our hemisphere than at any other time in the past three decades. And it will be these same impatient patriots who ensure that every citizen of the Americas one day shares in the full blessings of democracy.

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