March 10, 2008
With Castro Stepping Down, What’s Next for Cuba and the Western Hemisphere?
Thomas A. Shannon, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, USDOS
· Statement Before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere of House of Representatives
Chairman and Members of the Committee:
you for the opportunity to provide an overview of U.S. policy in the Americas. This is an important opportunity to discuss
bipartisan achievements in a region important to the United States and the well-being of our people.
in a hemisphere characterized by dynamic, positive change. Democracy, free markets, and economic integration have unleashed
powerful popular forces. The elected governments of the Americas are working to translate these forces into tangible benefits
for its people - such as expanding economic opportunity and reducing poverty; connecting national infrastructures, integrating
electricity grids and energy markets; and collaborating on alternative energy sources. This story of positive change has an
underlying theme: dialogue and engagement between countries, and broad recognition that we must address our differences but
also appreciate the commonalities that bind us together. So it is no coincidence that the success stories of our region are
increasingly products of cooperation and collaboration, and vibrant multilateralism.
the Americas on the cutting edge of transformational political and economic change in the world. This is a region that has
completed the first and most dramatic stage of political change. It has moved largely from authoritarian governments to democratically-elected
governments. It has moved from closed economies to open economies that rely on trade to link to globalized markets. It is
a region that now faces the next generation of transformational challenges, which are in some ways more persistent and more
difficult to overcome. The key is finding a way to enable democracy to address the dramatic social obstacles this region faces,
especially poverty, inequality, and marginalization. Our community calls for a renewed and sustainable strategy of engagement,
which our policy is designed to achieve.
policy in the Americas is designed to help our partners meet the next generation of transformational challenges and show that,
at the end of the day, democracy can deliver the goods. The focus of our policy is fourfold:
· First, to consolidate democracy and the democratic gains
of the past. This includes broadening participation in the democratic system to assure that ordinary citizens have a role
in the political process;
· Second, to promote prosperity and economic opportunity in
· Third, to invest in people, because we recognize that economic
opportunity without individual capacity to take advantage of that opportunity is meaningless to the vast numbers of the poor
and vulnerable in Latin America and the Caribbean; and
· Finally, to protect the security of democratic states.
taken a bipartisan approach to implementing our strategy, and with the help of the U.S. Congress have made considerable progress
in the right direction. We have renewed bilateral and multilateral engagement and have re-focused assets for greatest impact.
We continue to seek a balanced approach to our foreign assistance programs to advance democratic, economic, social, and security
goals. Since 2001, we have spent over $7.5 billion in development programs, including alternative development funded out of
ACI (now ACP), and about $4.5 billion in security programs, including remaining ACI programs. If our FY 2009 request is approved,
development programs since 2001 will top $8.5 billion and security programs will reach approximately $6.7 billion, including
$1.1 billion for Merida, for a total of over $14 billion
United States is committed to fostering democratic governance and protecting fundamental rights and liberties in the Americas.
Working multilaterally through the Organization of American States (OAS) and other institutions in the Inter-American System,
we are helping our partners in the Americas respond to poverty, inequality, and marginalization. With our support and funding,
the OAS is working to strengthen its capacity to help the Americas’ elected governments respond to the challenges of
democratic governance and honor the region’s shared commitments under the Inter-American Democratic Charter. We are
supporting the work of those building broader based political parties that incorporate communities which have traditionally
been marginalized. We also continue our support to OAS’ Electoral Observation Missions and our efforts to deepen inter-regional
pro-democracy cooperation between the OAS and the African Union.
bilaterally, we support all sectors to strengthen Haiti’s democracy and promote long-term development. The United States
remains Haiti’s largest bilateral donor, with a foreign assistance request of more than $245 million in FY 2009. Programmed
in close coordination with the Government of Haiti and other international donors, our aid focuses on governance and the rule
of law, elections, security, economic growth, and critical humanitarian needs. With reduced inflation, increased GDP, and
a shift from peace building to peace keeping, it is clear that the benefits of democracy are taking hold.
FY 2009 foreign assistance request of $20 million for Cuba is consistent with recommendations in the second Commission for
Assistance to a Free Cuba (CAFC) report. Since the formation of CAFC, Economic Support Funds to Cuba jumped to over $21 million
in FY 2004 and an estimated $45 million in FY 2008. This assistance is key to helping the democratic opposition and civil
society promote the dialogue needed for a successful transition to democracy. The United States reaffirms the belief that
the Cuban people have an inalienable right to participate in an open and comprehensive dialogue about their country’s
future, free of fear and repression, and to choose their leaders in democratic elections. We reiterate Secretary Rice’s
February 24, 2008 message regarding our support of the Cuban people in their efforts to obtain “the fundamental rights
and liberties expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”
We continue to urge the Cuban Government to begin a peaceful transition to democracy and encourage international partners
to help the Cuban people bring about positive change.
of the biggest challenges facing democracies in the Americas is delivering the benefits of free markets, trade, and economic
integration. With total GDP on the rise in Latin America and the Caribbean from $1.7 trillion in 2002 to $3.4 trillion in
2007, and the number of people living in poverty decreasing from 44 percent in 2002 to approximately 35 percent in 2007, we
are seeing improvements. With the successful reduction in the cost of sending money to the region, remittances have nearly
doubled since 2002 to more than $60 billion per year, with more than 75 percent coming from the United States.
sustain these gains over the long term, the United States is helping create economic opportunity in the Americas through our
free trade agenda, which now includes countries accounting for two-thirds of the gross domestic product of the hemisphere.
With the conclusion of ten free trade agreements, we have built a chain that stretches along the Pacific coast of the Americas
from Canada to Chile. We strongly urge Congress to approve the pending free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama to bring
two strategically and economically significant allies into the network of U.S. FTAs.
Central America and the Dominican Republic reap the benefits of their Free Trade Agreement remains an important priority and
is reflected in our FY 2009 request for bilateral programs and $40 million in regional labor and environment programs. The
participation of four hemisphere partners who emphasize free trade, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Peru, in the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) Summit is another positive demonstration of the economic importance of the Americas in the world market.
We expect the Americas’ participation in APEC to continue to expand, as Colombia and Ecuador are also seeking membership.
Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) helps reinforce our efforts in eliminating corruption, promoting transparency, improving
healthcare and education, and connecting people to markets through complementary programs. MCC has signed compacts totaling
more than $850 million with El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. It has also signed more than $77 million in threshold agreements
with Guyana, Paraguay, and Peru. We continue to target our foreign assistance to supplement and leverage MCC efforts.
United States is also addressing the challenges of energy cost, diversity, and availability in the hemisphere through the
development of global and regional markets for ethanol and bio-diesel. The goal is to develop a promising new source of local
fuels that will promote energy security and sustainable development, especially in Central America and the Caribbean.
Investing in People
United States is helping to unlock the vast potential of the peoples of the Americas by working with our partners to invest
in people through improved education and training, health care, access to capital, economic infrastructure, and security for
their families and property. We are making progress in this area through combined efforts.
2001, we have funded more than 7,000 professional exchanges, including citizen exchanges, International Visitor Leadership
Program (IVLP) and the Voluntary Visitor program; and over 700 youth program participants, including College Horizons, the
Martin Luther King Fellows program, and Youth Ambassadors. During the same period, we funded more than 7,500 Fulbright students,
teachers and scholars from the region to study and research in the U.S. The United States also committed to provide $75 million
for the President's Partnership for Latin American Youth. The Partnership will help provide thousands of students in the hemisphere
with new opportunities for English language training, home country and U.S.-based study, scholarships, and skills development
to improve students' ability to gain employment.
we have spent more than $1.5 billion in foreign assistance on health programs [Child Survival and Health (CSH) and Global
HIV/AIDS Initiative (GHAI)] since 2001. We also witnessed the USNS COMFORT contribute to improving healthcare in the region
during a four-month deployment during which it visited 12 countries and treated nearly 100,000 patients.
2001, Peace Corps has spent an average of $44 million per year in the region and provided an average of more than 2,200 volunteers
to the hemisphere to advance world peace and friendship.
Protecting the Democratic State
years, we have worked with our partners in the hemisphere to transform the security agenda for the region and forge a consensus
on the vital link between security and prosperity. We are confronting nontraditional threats such as organized crime, terrorism,
drug trafficking, gangs, natural disasters, and pandemics. By protecting the people of the Americas, we strengthen democracy,
promote social justice, and create a secure space for citizens and states to pursue economic prosperity.
Merida Initiative will establish a new paradigm for regional security cooperation with Mexico and Central America. The goal
of the Merida Initiative is to strengthen state institutions in the region and to reinforce regional cooperation to break
the power and impunity of criminal organizations that intimidate state institutions, threaten Mexican and Central American
governments’ abilities to maintain public security and the rule of law, and pose a hazard to the safety and security
of the United States. Funds are divided among three “pillars” of activities: 1) counternarcotics, counterterrorism,
and border security; 2) public security and law enforcement; and 3) institution building and rule of law. The Central America
portion of the Initiative seeks to directly respond to needs identified by Central American governments at the inaugural U.S.-SICA
(Central American Integration System) Dialogue on Security last year. The Merida Initiative is a vital extension of our regional
approach to combating the threats of drug trafficking, transnational crime, and terrorism that undermine security and builds
upon successes gained to date.
Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) with Canada and Mexico has been a key component to our regional security strategy.
The SPP includes provisions to coordinate border policies, promote trade facilitation, encourage regulatory cooperation and
prepare for possible pandemics in North America.
also made great advances in our efforts to combat illicit narcotics cultivation and trafficking and to promote licit economic
and social development in Colombia. We have included a FY 2009 request of just under $543 million to continue our support
in Colombia and build upon progress made so far. Colombia’s USG-supported aerial and manual eradication programs continue
to halt the rapid growth in coca cultivation with a decline of over seven percent between 2001 and 2006 (from 169,800 to 157,200
hectares). The estimated potential cocaine production over the same period declined 35 percent, from 839 MT to 545 MT, reflecting
the impact of eradication programs on crop yield rates. Additionally, the Government of Colombia estimates that over 45,000
people have demobilized since 2002 (14,000 under the individual desertion program and over 31,000 paramilitary under the collective
program), and Colombia’s justice system officially completed its conversion to an oral accusatorial system similar to
that of the U.S. in January 2008. This new system has allowed new criminal cases to be resolved in months instead of years,
and conviction rates have risen from less than three percent to over sixty percent. We will also continue support for refugees
and internally displaced persons.
has also made significant progress in reducing the level of violence in recent years, including violence against trade unionists.
Since 2002, kidnappings are down 83 percent, homicides are down 40 percent, and terrorist attacks are down 76 percent. Homicides
of trade unionists declined by 79 percent between 2002 and 2007, and as of 2007 the homicide rate for trade unionists is less
than one-quarter the rate for the general population. The number of homicides of trade unionists has declined over the same
period that the number of trade unionists enrolled in the Ministry of Interior and Justice’s (MOIJ) protection program
has increased. Already, more than 9,400 individuals, nearly one-fifth of whom are trade unionists, are taking advantage of
this protection. Last year, the program successfully protected every union member who chose to enroll.
Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) (expanded from the Andean Trade Preference Act in 2002) has also
contributed significantly to export diversification in beneficiary countries and strengthened the legitimate economies of
the region as an alternative to narcotics production. We are working with Congress to approve the Colombia FTA and join the
Peru FTA in establishing permanent reciprocal trade relations with two ATPDEA beneficiaries. We have concerns about the actions
of the other two beneficiaries, Bolivia and Ecuador, including with respect to the treatment of U.S. investors. We will use
the short-term extension of ATPDEA that the President signed into law last week to engage Congress and these governments in
discussions regarding their continued eligibility under this program.
United States’ bipartisan commitment to our partnership with the Americas has been reinforced through the Summit of
the Americas process. Summits have helped lay the groundwork of the pillars of U.S. policy toward the region—consolidating
democracy, promoting prosperity, investing in people to advance social justice, and protecting the democratic state—through
concrete programs in these areas. The United States looks forward to building upon these commitments with our hemispheric
partners as we begin negotiations for the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago in early 2009. Looking forward
to the Fifth Summit, we must develop together concrete, measurable goals and demonstrate to the people of our countries how
the Summit process positively affects their lives.
President has reaffirmed his commitment to furthering political, economic, and social advancement in the Americas through
12 trips to the region – more than any other U.S. President. Cabinet level visits have totaled more than 70 in the last
two years and there have been more than 100 Congressional delegations since 2001. Together, through our bipartisan efforts,
we will link democracy with development, generate broad-based growth through freer trade and sound economic policies, invest
in the well-being of people from all walks of life, and make democracy serve every citizen more effectively and justly.
you again for inviting me to testify today. I would be happy to answer any questions that you have.
(Thomas A. Shannon is Assistant
Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
He made this statement before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House of Representatives on March