A Renewed Commitment to Hemispheric Solidarity

Assistant Secretary of State Lauds Hemispheric Solidarity After 9/11 - Cites "our common battle" in defense of democracy and civilization

September 10, 2002

On September 11, Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Lima, Peru, with his counterparts from throughout the hemisphere, preparing to sign the Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States, when the news of the horrific attacks on New York and Washington arrived. The immediate outpouring of support from our colleagues in the hemisphere, and indeed from all the peoples of the Americas, was touching and uplifting.

Our Canadian and Caribbean neighbors opened their homes and their hearts to so many of our citizens whose planes were diverted and grounded.

The Brazilian government led the invocation of the Rio Treaty, declaring that an attack on one American state is an attack on all. Canada has sent its sons and daughters to stand beside ours in the war against terror. The OAS Foreign Ministers called for an Inter-American Convention Against Terror, with Colombia, El Salvador and Peru providing working-group leadership.

Schoolchildren around the hemisphere gave their support, raising thousands of dollars for the families of the victims.

The U.S. government and the American people are eternally grateful for the unwavering support we have received from our neighbors in this hemisphere and for the solidarity in which we have stood together this past year to confront this challenge to our way of life.

This is not the first time that nations of our hemisphere have suffered at terrorists' hands. Our neighbors in Colombia have been terrorized and murdered by narco-terrorists for over 30 years. Argentina is still trying to bring to justice the terrorists who attacked Buenos Aires in the mid-1990s. Peru is emerging from a period of deadly strife. The government of Trinidad and Tobago was held hostage by terrorists in 1990. And last September 11, the hemisphere suffered with us -- 353 citizens of 28 other hemisphere nations perished in the World Trade Center.

As Secretary Powell said at the OAS on September 21, "The United States has stood with you, and now you stand with us, partners in resolve as well as in grief, free peoples committed to the collective defense of our security and of the democratic ideals we hold so dear."

The terrorist attacks hurt all of the nations of this hemisphere. The U.S. economy suffered a sharp decline following the attacks, which reverberated throughout the region. Our neighbors in the Caribbean were particularly devastated when so many others were unable or afraid to travel. Yet the people of the Eastern Caribbean opened their hearts to New York firefighters and their families and generously offered them free vacations.

The events of September 11 also helped us to recognize the connection between terrorism and other transnational crimes, such as drug trafficking, money laundering and illegal migration. These crimes enable terrorists to finance and carry out their activities. Every step that any country takes to stem this unholy alliance is a step toward keeping its citizens and those in neighboring countries safer from terrorism.

Since last September, we have worked together to confront this evil and make our hemisphere safer for all of us. More than 90 nations have arrested or detained more than 2,400 terrorists. More than $100 million in terrorist assets has been frozen in more than 160 countries. The countries of the Americas have improved financial and border controls and improved intelligence-sharing. We have all stood shoulder-to-shoulder and counted ourselves among the defenders of civilization.

In June of this year, 30 of the 34 nations of the OAS signed the first international treaty since September 11, targeted at improving our ability to combat terrorism. This Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism binds us even closer in our common battle against those who seek to destroy the values of democracy and tolerance that we cherish.

Together we have made impressive progress over this past year and together we will succeed in protecting our shared values. Again, to quote Secretary Powell: "More than ever before, the Americas stand together against terrorism and for democracy. There can be no doubt of our resolve." As we remember those who lost their lives in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania a year ago today, we will not allow fear to stop us. We will honor their sacrifice by looking forward to a brighter future, where the Americas continue to grow together in prosperity and security.

Read more: "Ass’t. Secretary of State Lauds Hemispheric Solidarity After 9/11" - http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2002/September/[email protected]#ixzz0AGIlQ2Ol


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