Remarks on Democracy in the Americas in Brasilia
Thank you. Boa tarde. Thank you for coming. This is my first trip to Brazil, and Laura and I are really pleased to be here in your capital city. We've had a magnificent stay, had a great visit with President Lula. It's an important visit because Brazil and the United States are close friends. And that's the way it should be. Plus the President and the First Lady gave us an unbelievably good barbeque. [Laughter] I also commend the President for his commitment to improving the lives of the people here in Brazil.
Our two nations share many things in common. We are both children of the New World, founded in empire and fulfilled in independence. We're united by history and geography. We share the conviction that the future of our hemisphere must be a future of justice and freedom.
Only a generation ago, this was a continent plagued by military dictatorship and civil war. Yet the people of this continent defied the dictators, and they claimed their liberty. We saw the dramatic evidence at the Summit of the Americas that President Lula and I just attended. The delegates from 34 countries that came to this conference all represent democratic governments.
Freedom is the gift of the Almighty to every man and woman in this world, and today, this vision is the free consensus of a free Americas. It is a vision that is written into the founding document of the Organization of American States, which calls this hemisphere—calls on the hemisphere "to offer to man a land of liberty and a favorable environment for the realization of his just aspirations." It is the vision that is given clear direction in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which declares, "The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it." And it is a vision that puts what was once a distant dream within our reach, an Americas wholly free and democratic and at peace with ourselves and our neighbors.
As the largest democracy in South America, Brazil is a leader, and today, Brazil is exercising its leadership across the globe. In Africa, Brazil is working to defeat the scourge of HIV/AIDS by partnering with America to improve treatment and care and prevention in Portuguese-speaking nations like Mozambique. In this hemisphere, Brazil leads the coalition of the United Nations peacekeeping forces who are helping to restore peace and stability in Haiti. And here at home, Brazil aspires to set an example for the continent by building a just social order where the blessings of liberty are enjoyed by every citizen of this great nation.
Ensuring social justice for the Americas requires choosing between two competing visions. One offers a vision of hope. It is founded on representative government, integration into the world community, and a faith in the transformative power of freedom in individual lives. The other seeks to roll back the democratic progress of the past two decades by playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor, and blaming others for their own failures to provide for their people. The choices we make will determine which vision will define the Americas our children inherit, and we must make tough decisions today to ensure a better tomorrow.
As you work for a better tomorrow, Brazil must know you have a strong partner in the United States. Like you, we aspire for a hemisphere where the dignity of every human being is respected. Like you, we believe that the poor and disenfranchised have a special claim on our attention. And like you, we know that we must make good on the promises of democracy. In the Americas of the 21st century, freedom is the gateway to social justice, and democracies old and new must work together to build a hemisphere that delivers hope and opportunity for every citizen.
Our common ideal of social justice begins with self-government. The promise of democracy starts with national pride and independence and elections, but it does not end there. A country that divides into factions and dwells on old grievances cannot move forward and risks sliding back into tyranny. A country that unites all its people behind common ideals will multiply in strength and confidence. The successful democracies of the 21st century will not be defined by blood and soil. Successful democracies will be defined by a broader ideal of citizenship, based on shared principles and shared responsibilities and respect for all.
For my own country, the process of becoming a mature, multiethnic democracy was lengthy. My country's journey from national independence to equal justice for all meant overcoming the enslavement of millions and a 4-year civil war. Even after slavery ended, a century passed before the guarantee of equal rights under the law was finally made real. Racial division almost destroyed my country, and the citizens of the United States learned the false doctrine of "separate but equal" was no basis for a strong and unified America. The only way my country found to rise above the injustices of our history was to reject segregation, to move beyond mere tolerance, and to affirm the brotherhood of all people in our land.
Each democracy has its own character and culture that reflect its unique traditions and history. Yet all free and successful countries share some common characteristics: Freedom to worship, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, economic liberty, equal justice under the rule of law, equal citizenship for all, and the limitation of state power through checks and balances. In many parts of our hemisphere, these institutions of a free society are still young, and they are fragile, and we must ensure that they are strong for the tasks ahead. To deliver justice, the people must have confidence in their institutions, and we must replace the rule of man with the rule of law.
Some today suggest that democracy has outlived its usefulness. They have misread history. The Americas has declared democracy indispensable for the exercise of human rights. It is the only region in the world that imposes an obligation to defend democracy. For all the growing pains, it is a miracle of history that this young century finds us speaking about the consolidation of freedom throughout our hemisphere. We must continue our work to help strengthen the institutions of liberty because we know that freedom is the only way to ensure that our citizens can lead lives of purpose and dignity. And without democracy there can be no social justice, because only democracy offers a place at the table for every member of society.
Our common ideal of social justice must include a better life for all our citizens. As elections and democracies have spread across our hemisphere, we see a revolution in expectations. In free societies, citizens will rightly insist that people should not go hungry, that every child deserves the opportunity for a decent education, and that hard work and initiative should be rewarded. And with each new generation that grows up in freedom and democracy, these expectations rise and the demands for accountability grow. Either democracies will meet these legitimate demands, or we will yield the future to the enemies of freedom.
The nations of this hemisphere have a moral obligation to help others. They have a moral obligation to educate their children and to provide decent health care. We have a moral duty to make sure our actions are effective. At Monterrey in 2002, the world agreed to a new vision for the way we fight poverty and curb corruption and provide aid in this new millennium. Developing countries agreed to take responsibility for their own economic progress through good governance and sound practices and the rule of law, and developed countries agreed to support these efforts.
My country has sought to implement the Monterrey consensus by changing the way we deliver aid. We have established a new Millennium Challenge Account that increases aid for nations that govern justly, that invest in the education and health of their people, and promote economic freedom. Recently we signed compacts delivering aid—Millennium Challenge aid to Honduras and Nicaragua. This new aid will help those countries improve their roads and diversify their crops and strengthen property rights and make their rural businesses more competitive. And in the years ahead, under the leadership of Ambassador Danilovich, we hope more countries will follow their example.
My country has also stepped up to meet the humanitarian challenges facing our region and the world by providing millions of dollars bilaterally, especially for education of the children. We understand that you cannot achieve economic prosperity and social justice without educating the children of a country. We also support the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, to provide care and prevention and support for those suffering from the pandemic. At the 2004 special summit in Mexico, the leaders of our hemisphere, including President Lula and me, made a commitment to provide lifesaving treatment for at least 600,000 individuals by the next Summit of the Americas. We worked together. We have shown our words are not empty promises. We have helped deliver treatment to more than 670,000 people in this hemisphere, which surpasses our goal of helping those with HIV/AIDS. And there is more work to be done.
As we expand and improve aid, we are also working to improve the Inter-American Development Bank. Since it was established, this bank has played a major role in the economic development of Latin America and the Caribbean. But as the economies of the Americas further develop, the bank has to change with them. The beginning of President Moreno's tenure gives us a great opportunity to modernize the bank by taking better advantage of global capital markets and by tailoring the bank's programs to the real needs of the growing economies on this continent. The private sector is the engine of growth and job creation in this region. The bank must greatly strengthen its role in private sector investment, especially in small businesses, which are the backbone of a healthy and growing economy. I have asked the United States Treasury Secretary John Snow to work with his counterparts in the hemisphere and at the bank to implement reforms that will ensure that the bank better addresses the needs for economic growth and job creation. They will also discuss a range of options, including giving grants and debt relief for the poorest of nations.
Increasing aid and relieving debt are important parts of our efforts to lift the burden of poverty from places of suffering, yet they are not enough. Our goal is to promote opportunity for people throughout the Americas, whether you live in Minnesota or Brazil. And the best way to do this is by expanding free and fair trade.
The United States, Mexico, and Canada took a first step with what's called NAFTA. And trade between our countries has tripled in 10-year period. Our hemisphere has sought to build on this example by committing ourselves to the Free Trade of the Americas that would eliminate barriers across the entire hemisphere, and I appreciate President Lula's discussion with me today about working to see if we can't make that become a reality. The United States has also made substantial advances toward the goal of hemispheric free trade through bilateral trade agreements with partners such as Chile. And 3 months ago, we passed through our Congress a trade agreement with the nations of Central America and the Dominican Republic that gives the people of that region jobs and opportunities that come with freer trade and more investment.
And at this moment, we're working hard to advance negotiations with the Andean countries and Panama. By working for free and—I repeat—fair trade across this hemisphere, we will bring all our people into the expanding circle of development. We'll make it easier for those of us who live in this hemisphere to compete with countries like China and India. But most importantly, trade means jobs for people.
The best opportunity to deliver the blessings of trade to every citizen in this hemisphere is the Doha round of negotiations in the World Trade Organization. A successful Doha round will open up markets for farm products and services and industrial goods across this hemisphere and across the globe. Under Doha, every nation will gain, and the developing world stands to gain the most. The World Bank estimates that if the Doha round passes, 300 million people will be lifted from poverty. We know that from history that developing nations that open themselves up to trade grow at several times the rate of countries that practice protectionism. And the stakes are high—they're really high. The lives and futures of millions of poor people across the globe hang in the balance, and so we must bring the Doha trade talks to a successful conclusion.
The greatest obstacles to a successful Doha round are the countries that stand firm in the way of dismantling the tariffs and barriers and trade-distorting subsidies that isolate the poor on this continent from the great opportunities of the 21st century. Only an ambitious reform agenda in agriculture and manufactured goods and services can ensure that the benefits of free and fair trade are enjoyed by all people in all countries.
We agree with Brazil that the agricultural negotiations will unlock the full potential of the Doha round. Your President has criticized the agricultural subsidies that the developed world pays to its farmers, trade-distorting subsidies that undercut honest farmers in the developing world. I agree with President Lula, and the United States is leading the way to address this problem.
My administration has offered a bold proposal for Doha that would substantially reduce agricultural tariffs and trade-distorting subsidies, in a first stage, and over a period of 15 years, eliminate them altogether. Leaders who are concerned about the harmful effects of high tariffs and farm subsidies must move the Doha round forward. And leaders who want to make progress on agricultural subsidies must use their influence to help the WTO make progress on all aspects of the Doha round. By completing Doha, we will help build an Americas that lives in liberty, trades in freedom, and grows in prosperity.
Finally, our common ideal is—of social justice requires safety and security for all our citizens. In many parts of this hemisphere, drug lords and terrorists and criminal gangs corrupt democratic societies. When these groups are more powerful than the state, there can be no social justice. So the United States is working with affected countries to restore the rule of law and ensure the safety of ordinary citizens. We are working with the Government of Mexico to stop the smugglers who traffic in everything from guns to human beings. We are helping President Uribe and the Colombian people defeat the cocaine cartels and narcoterrorists. We're providing money to help honest farmers grow legitimate crops. We're working with our partners in this region to stop terrorist organizations from using this hemisphere as a base to launder money and to provide support for their operations across the globe.
By protecting the people of the Americas from those who operate outside the law, we strengthen democracy, we promote social justice, and we make prosperity more likely. Citizens who live in fear for their lives because of drug lords and terrorists and criminal gangs are not free citizens. So we must continue to work for the day that all citizens can count on their governments to protect them from criminals and advance the peace and stability that can only come from freedom.
In the last half-century, the nations of the Americas have overcome enormous challenges, colonialism and communism and military dictatorship. The progress we have achieved is the result of tremendous sacrifice and leadership. One such leader was the man who built this beautiful capital as the symbol of Brazilian democracy. President Kubitschek was forced into exile when antidemocratic forces seized control in Brazil. His dream, he said, was to live and die in a free country. At the start of this hopeful new century, the dream of this proud patriot inspires citizens not only in this country but all around the continent.
The citizens of the Americas look to us, the elected leaders, to make his dream a reality and to lead by example. Governments across this hemisphere must be strong, must listen to the people, and must not squander their money. Governments across this hemisphere must be free of corruption. Governments across this hemisphere must be accountable, and we must live by the same standard we set for others. By making the blessings of freedom real in our hemisphere, we will advance the cause of social justice and set a shining example for the rest of the world.
Thank you for allowing me to come and address you. May God bless Brazil. May God continue to bless our Nation, America. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 4:23 p.m. at the Blue Tree Park Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, and his wife, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva; Luis Alberto Moreno Mejia, president, Inter-American Development Bank; and President Alvaro Uribe Velez of Colombia. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.
George W. Bush, Remarks on Democracy in the Americas in Brasilia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/216640