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Closing Remarks at the Summit of the Americas in Santiago

April 19, 1998

President Frei; fellow leaders of the Americas; First Ladies; distinguished Presidents of Senate, Chamber of Deputies, Supreme Court; members of the diplomatic corps; ladies and gentlemen of the Americas; let me say first to you, Mr. President—and I know I speak for all of us here—we thank you and Mrs. Frei and your entire team for the warmth of your welcome, the wonder of your country, and the genuine leadership you have brought to this Summit of the Americas. Thank you very much.

At our first summit in 1994, we agreed on a common vision of a democratic, prosperous, peaceful, united hemisphere for the 21st century. We also formulated a comprehensive agenda to help us to realize that vision, an agenda to strengthen our democracies, tear down trade barriers, improve our people's quality of life.

Our journey from Miami to Santiago, as we have often said, was from words to deeds. Still, for all our progress, we all admit that too many of our citizens have not yet seen their own lives improved as a result of our participation as free nations in the global economy. Therefore, we have committed ourselves here to a second stage of reforms designed to bring the benefits of freedom and free enterprise to ordinary citizens throughout the Americas.

As was the truth in Miami, it is so here today: The real work of Santiago begins as we leave. And until we meet again in Canada, we must work every day to keep the commitments we have made to each other and to our people.

First, we must continue to stand fast for democracy for our entire hemisphere, with no holdouts and no backsliders. We must support the integrity of the electoral process. We welcomed and participated in the restoration of democracy in Haiti. We supported its preservation in Paraguay. We now must support the OAS and CARICOM as they support the people of Guyana in the integrity of their electoral process. We must support our new special rapporteur on freedom of expression and work to prevent violence against journalists; get our new hemispheric justice system up and running; implement the OAS Illegal Firearms Convention to help to stop firearms from falling into the wrong hands; adopt the laws necessary to make our unprecedented anticorruption convention a reality. And most important, we must move aggressively to establish our alliance against drugs, so that we will have a more genuinely collective effort to protect our people against narcotrafficking and drug abuse, violence and organized crime.

Second, we must continue to bring the free economies of the Americas together. Today we launched comprehensive negotiations for a freetrade area of the Americas and vowed to make concrete progress toward that goal by the year 2000, including greater transparency in government procurement and banking operations, a commitment to free trade in cyberspace, and steps to facilitate business, such as customs coordination.

And as we improve the climate for business contracts, we know we must also strengthen the social contract. The civil society committee we have established is designed to give all the voices of society the opportunity to be heard in shaping the new free-trade area of the Americas. We want more trade and better working conditions, more growth and a cleaner environment.

The entrepreneurs of the information age can prosper in a way that increases opportunities for all who are willing to work hard. And we can reap the benefits of economic change and meet the challenge of climate change.

Finally, we have made it our mission to give our people the tools they must have to succeed in the new economy: opening the doors of learning to all our children; doing more to lift our people out of poverty, supported by billions of dollars in new lending commitments for microenterprise and health care from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank.

By the time we meet again, we should resolve that all our small entrepreneurs, especially our women, should have access to the loans they need to get their businesses off the ground; that poor urban and rural citizens should be able to gain titles to their property; that we should eradicate measles from this hemisphere; and most important, that millions more of our children will be in school, not on the streets. We should achieve an 80-percent completion rate in primary school as we work toward our goal of 100 percent by the year 2010. Our children, after all, will have more to say about the future we are trying to create than any of the rest of us.

The people of the Americas, as the President of Uruguay pointed out to us yesterday, have launched a profound revolution in the last few years, a revolution of peace and freedom and prosperity. Here in Santiago, we embrace our responsibility to make these historic forces lift the lives of all our people. That is the future we can forge together. It is a future worthy of the new Americas in a new millennium.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:54 p.m. in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building. In his remarks, he referred to President of the Senate Andres Zaldivar, President of the Chamber of Deputies Gutenberg Martinez, and Justice Roberto Davila, President of the Supreme Court of Chile; and President Julio Maria Sanguinetti of Uruguay.

William J. Clinton, Closing Remarks at the Summit of the Americas in Santiago Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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