U.S. State Department Geographic Bureaus: Latin America Bureau

NOVEMBER 30, 1994

FACT SHEET: Summit of the Americas

President Clinton has invited the 33 democratically elected leaders of the Western Hemisphere to a Summit of the Americas in Miami, Florida, December 9-11, 1994. This is a unique opportunity:

-- The summit is the first meeting of the leaders of the nations of North America, the Caribbean, and Central and South America in more than a generation. Two earlier hemispheric summits--Panama in 1956 and Punta del Este, Uruguay, in 1967--did not include Canada and portions of the Caribbean.

-- It is the first-ever hemispheric summit of solely democratically elected leaders.

-- It is the first hemispheric summit hosted by the United States, the largest summit ever held in the United States, and the largest gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders in history.

A New Set of Relationships

Democracy is a rising tide in the Americas. All governments in the Western Hemisphere--except Cuba--are democratic and have declared, through the Organization of American States, that democracy must remain the norm throughout the hemisphere. This shared dedication to democracy is a strong foundation for creating a hemispheric partnership aimed at improving the well-being of people throughout the region. Ensuring effective democratic governance will strengthen that foundation.

This partnership also aims to promote prosperity by increasing trade and investment. By the year 2000, the hemisphere's total population will approach 800 million, with a total gross national product expected to exceed $9 trillion. The hemisphere is a large and growing market.

-- U.S. exports to Latin America--mostly of manufactured goods--more than doubled between 1985 and 1993, rising from $30 billion to $79 billion.

-- This expansion of inter-American trade has created up to 900,000 new U.S. jobs.

-- Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing sustained economic expansion and generally declining inflation.

-- Foreign direct investment to Latin America has doubled since 1990, reaching almost $15 billion in 1993.

This partnership will face many other challenges through the 21st century, which include:

-- Competing economically;
-- Providing access to education and health care; and
-- Protecting the environment.

The nations of the hemisphere also will need to continue working together on problems that do not recognize national borders, such as illicit narcotics trafficking and terrorism, which threaten not only the health and safety of people but the survival of democratic institutions themselves. Most important, these efforts need to be sustainable to ensure that achievements will be enjoyed by future generations.

Summit Themes

In consultations with the countries of the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico, and Canada, three broad themes have emerged as the basis for the summit agenda.

Making Democracy Work: Reinventing Government. Institutionalize representative, transparent, and responsive democratic government and encourage the development of a civil society and the forging of a dynamic and constructive new partnership with government; strengthen democracies to counter threats such as corruption, narcotics trafficking, and money laundering.

Making Democracy Prosper: Hemispheric Economic Integration. Integrate further the economies of the hemisphere to maximize their potential, promoting greater openness in markets and movement of capital to sustain and broadly extend the benefits of growth.

Making Democracy Endure: Sustainable Development. Improve the well-being of the people of the Americas by alleviating poverty and raising standards of health and education, helping to create citizenry and societies that recognize the value of protecting and renewing environmental resources for future generations.

The summit will generate a plan of action to give life to these three themes, taking advantage of expanding, active relationships in the hemisphere among private citizens, non- governmental organizations, regional institutions, and governments. The participating heads of state and government have expressed interest in issuing at the summit a Declaration of Principles and an associated plan of action to transform principles into concrete activities with measurable impact. This common plan of action will set in motion a process that will, ultimately, transform the quality of life of people throughout the hemisphere.

Miami, Florida

Miami, the communications crossroads of the hemisphere, is the ideal site for the summit. Florida's economy is increasingly integrated with the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean and plays an important role in their development. The community's rich cultural and ethnic diversity places it at the vanguard of relationships in the Americas as the 21st century approaches.

--President Clinton announcing the Summit of the Americas, March 11, 1994

We have arrived at a moment of very great promise and great hope for the Western Hemisphere. Democratic values are ascendant. Our economies are growing and becoming more intertwined every day through trade and investment. Now we have a unique opportunity to build a community of free nations, diverse in culture and history, but bound together by a commitment to responsive and free government, vibrant civil societies, open economies, and rising living standards for all our people.


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