This article first appeared on Infobae on October 21, 2021.
The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stressed on Wednesday in Ecuador three fundamental challenges facing democracy in the region, such as corruption, civil security, and the economic and social challenge.
On his second day of an official visit to the Andean country, the head of U.S. diplomacy gave a speech at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) entitled “Making Democracy Deliver for Americans,” in which he spoke of the “ability of our democracies to close the gap between what we promise and what we do.”
Blinken acknowledged the discredit and setbacks that democracies have experienced in the world and the region, although he emphasized that 63% of Latin Americans consider it to be the best system of government.
CORRUPTION GLOBAL CHALLENGE
“We come with ideas, but of equal importance, we come to listen with humility,” said the Secretary of State before listing three issues that the United States considers critical in the hemisphere and that democracies must address.
First, he referred to the challenge of corruption, a problem that represents up to 5% of global GDP, he said.
“It deepens inequality and has an impact on the lack of confidence in the government,” he said, noting that most of the recent social upheavals in the world were catalyzed by corruption, “which drains state resources that could be used for schools and hospitals.
Blinken recalled that President Joe Biden considers the fight against corruption a central issue and that at the 2018 Summit of the Americas the leaders of the hemisphere committed to adopting concrete measures in this regard, and that Washington is seeking coordinated actions in this fight with the EU, the G7, and the OECD.
“Since corruption has no borders, no country can fight it alone, without help from other countries, that’s why we are developing new tools and programs to improve the capacity of governments, investigative journalists, anti-corruption activists,” he said.
The second challenge he alluded to was that of civilian security and conceded that his country has invested for decades to combat transnational crime through equipment and training for security forces, because “Latin America and the Caribbean is the most violent region in the world”.
However, he assured that the US has focused “too much on the symptoms and not enough on the reasons”, something on which it is working “to correct that imbalance” and to ensure that populations that think that there are no other options but to resort to illicit activities have greater possibilities.
EMPHASIS ON THE CAUSES
In this new approach, he placed the investments made in drug abuse prevention and treatment, as well as mechanisms to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States. He also stressed the importance of “repairing the social fabric and investing in the rule of law” in the countries of origin of illicit substances.
“This emphasis on root causes is at the heart of a series of high-level dialogues on insecurity in recent weeks with the Government of Mexico,” he said, and of ongoing dialogues with Colombia and Ecuador, where a holistic approach to combating drug trafficking has been announced in parallel to citizen insecurity.
The last challenge he highlighted for democracies is in the economic and social field, in which he advocated for the greater defense of political rights, free elections, the rule of law, freedoms such as freedom of assembly, and inclusive opportunities.
As an example, he announced that an investment of US$150 million is being analyzed through the Production Bank of Ecuador to promote small businesses.
Blinken concludes his trip to Ecuador today and travels to Colombia, where he will analyze with regional authorities the phenomenon of migration from a joint perspective.