September 1, 2000


Presentation by Ambassador Valter Pecly Moreira
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the OAS

Mr. Chairman,

As representative of Brazil, I would like to take this opportunity to refer to the Meeting of Presidents of South America, which was held in Brasilia on August 31 and September 1, Thursday and Friday of last week.

I believe this is an issue of great importance for the Hemisphere, and not only for the South American continent, and for this reason I feel that the Organization of American States should be duly informed about the event.

I would also like, with this statement, to underline the Permanent Council's policy of considering issues that, because of their importance, are brought before it for information and possible discussion.

The Brazilian delegation has asked the Secretariat to distribute to all delegations the following documents relating to the Meeting of Presidents of South America.

  1. Communiqu� of Brasilia, released at the end of the meeting.
  2. Declaration on the Malvinas Islands.
  3. Declaration of support for the peace process in Colombia.
  4. Statement by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso at the opening session on August 31.
  5. Statement by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso at the luncheon for Presidents on August 31.
  6. Article written by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, published in the Brazilian newspaper "Valor", on August 30.

As the representatives here assembled will note, the documents distributed are of two categories: some were approved by the Presidents and form part of the official proceedings released at the end of the meeting, while others reflect the understanding and position of the Brazilian government. My purpose in distributing to you the statements and speeches of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso is to make you directly aware of the ideas and motives that lay behind the convening of the Brasilia meeting.

I would beg your indulgence for not being able to submit these documents in the four official languages of the OAS.

I would now like to offer you a few succinct comments on the meeting, and to summarize its principal decisions.

The idea of bringing together the 12 Presidents of the South American countries-Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela, and Uruguay, as well as Brazil-came from the Brazilian President himself, and is one that had been maturing for several years during his presidency.

The initiative is based on a few basic premises, among which I would highlight the following four:

  1. South America is a region with specific characteristics that distinguish it on the international scene.
  2. The geographic peculiarities of South America create a common agenda of challenges and opportunities. There are many issues on which a specifically South American focus is called for.
  3. The region has a common history, dating back to its colonization. Today, democracy--however imperfect it may be--is a value shared by all, and overcoming the challenges of economic and social development is a common objective.
  4. It is South America's destiny to be an integrated economic space, united and ready to face the challenges of the new century now beginning, while reaffirming its calling as a force for international peace, stability and progress.

The "Brasilia Communiqu�," released at the end of the meeting, reflects the opinion of the 12 Presidents on the various items on the agendas of South America, Latin America, the Hemisphere and the world. The preamble to the document makes the following points:

  • The consolidation of democracy, respect for human rights, protection of the environment, overcoming social injustice, and promoting economic development are all common values and objectives that characterize the countries of South America (paragraph 3).
  • The creation of a South American Zone of Peace and the deepening of the dialog on security are essential objectives to be pursued (paragraph 5).
  • Reinforcing South American cooperation is a constructive element for the process of integration in Latin America and in the Caribbean, as well as for establishing a free trade area for the Americas as a whole (paragraph 8 to 10), and it is an essential element for integrating the region into the world economy (paragraph 8 to 12).

The presidents went on to examine five issues that were considered to be priorities: 1) democracy, 2) trade, 3) integration infrastructure, 4) illegal drugs and related crimes, and 5) information, knowledge, and technology.

On the issue of democracy, which is covered in paragraphs 22 to 28 of the communiqu�, I would like to point out the following ideas:

  1. The consolidation of democracy and peace in the region is an essential element for integration.
  2. Maintaining the rule of law and full respect for the democratic regime is a condition for participation in future South American meetings.
  3. Perfecting democratic institutions is intimately linked to economic and social development, and for this reason existing shortcomings in nutrition, health, education, housing, and employment must be combated throughout the region.
  4. The Inter-American System for the Protection and Promotion Human Rights should be supported and strengthened.

On the issue of trade, dealt with in paragraphs 29 to 35, I would highlight the following points:

  1. Participation by the private sector and the support of society as a whole are essential to the success and continuity of the integration processes now under way in South America;
  2. The decision to establish, as quickly as possible and in any case before January 2002, a free trade area between MERCOSUR and the Andean Community, with a view to creating a broader economic and commercial space in South America, with the participation of Chile, Guyana and Suriname, under the principle of "open regionalism"; and
  3. The creation of this space will strengthen the position of countries of the region in important upcoming negotiations, such as those for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, those involving the European Union, and those involving the World Trade Organization as a whole.

In paragraphs 36 to 43, the Presidents referred to the question of infrastructure for integration, and in general terms agreed on the following:

  1. South America's frontiers should become corridors for the circulation of goods and people, through the integration and development of physical infrastructure, designed in accordance with the principles of social and environmental sustainability.
  2. The identification of civil works of a bilateral or subregional interest is a priority element, with financing to be shared by governments, the private sector, and multilateral financial institutions.
  3. The Plan of Action for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America, prepared by the IDB, is attached to the communiqu� as an annex, and focuses essentially on the areas of energy, transportation, and communication, which will represent the very backbone of integration and of the economic and social development of the region.
  4. A ministerial meeting will be held towards the end of the year in Uruguay, in order to establish lines of action for expanding and modernizing South America's infrastructure.

On the issue of illegal drugs and related crimes, examined in paragraphs 47 to 52 of the communiqu�, the following points stand out:

  1. The drug problem poses risks for the integrity of our political, economic, and social structures in South America.
  2. The OAS has an essential role in leading the struggle against drugs in the Hemisphere, as demonstrated by the approval within CICAD of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism, which uses transparent and multilaterally agreed parameters for assessing this issue.
  3. In this area, relations between our own states as well as broader international cooperation must both be governed by the principles of shared responsibility on the part of producing, transit, and consumer countries, and they must reflect balanced treatment that will place equal emphasis on controlling supply, reducing demand, and treating addictions.

The chapter devoted to information, knowledge and technology, in paragraphs 53 to 59, contains the following main points:

  1. Scientific and technological knowledge is the basis for producing national wealth in the world of today.
  2. Education is the principal element for ensuring unrestricted access to knowledge and information.
  3. South America must be a full participant in the process of scientific discovery and technological innovation, and not simply a place where these are reproduced.
  4. It has been decided to speed up the creation of a South American Science and Technology Fund.

Mr. Chairman,

I hope that the summary I have just given of the objectives and results of the Meeting of Presidents of South America, held in Brasilia, has helped to inform and enlighten the Permanent Council about this important initiative of the countries of South America.

Just as, in the case of Europe, integration in the field of coal and steel was the point of departure for what was eventually to become the European Union, so greater integration in the area of infrastructure could well be the touchstone of this process in South America, on which discussion began in the Brazilian capital.

South American integration, as conceived by President Cardoso and now approved, encouraged and adopted by the other Presidents of the region, addresses the particular features of South America, but it is also intended to provide a stimulus to Latin American and Caribbean integration. In fact, it is based on the understanding that subregional initiatives, or those among specific groups of countries, have been the most dynamic force in promoting Latin American and Caribbean integration, as shown in the examples of MERCOSUR, the Andean Community, the Central American Common Market, CARICOM, ALADI, and many others.

Thus, consolidating the notion of South America means making progress with Latin American and Caribbean integration, since the strengthening of cooperative structures in each of the subregions of Latin America and the Caribbean will bring benefits as well for the region as a whole.

I would like to conclude this statement with some observations that President Fernando Henrique Cardoso offered at the closing ceremony of the Brasilia meeting.

The President said that, as with anything that is new, the Meeting of Presidents of South America has aroused considerable speculation and even some suspicions.

The two days of discussion and debate in Brasilia, however, revealed something very simple. Twelve countries-neighbors, friends, fraternal republics-have identified an agenda of common concerns, common problems, and common aspirations and have decided to do what is natural: to meet to discuss them. You will note that this was the first time that all the Presidents of South America have met together.

It was clear in Brasilia how much one country can learn from another, and how much we can do to help each other. It was also clear how much needs to be done together to respond to the challenges facing our region.

In truth, what really seems strange is that this was not done long before.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

[This is a mobile copy of Summary of the Communique of Brasilia]