• Heritage Action
  • More

Summits of the Americas and the OAS: Making the Inter-American System Work for U.S. Interests and the Interests of the Americas

Recorded on October 3, 2008

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

On September 11, 2001, all active members of the Organization of the American States approved the Inter-American Democratic Charter, recognizing a citizen's right to democratic governance.  Seven years later, the OAS and the Western Hemisphere face a range of divisive challenges that involve defining democracy, meeting criminal, drug and other transnational challenges, and overcoming persistent poverty and exclusion.  New regional groupings such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) seek to resolve political disputes, promote economic integration, and build security arrangements without the participation of the United States.  Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua seek to realign Latin America with non-hemispheric players such as China, Russia, and Iran to counter U.S. influence.  In April 2009, the Fifth Summit of the Americas will take place in Trinidad-Tobago.  It will bring the next U.S. President face to face with Western Hemisphere leaders and these new realities.  With the Summit also comes the challenge of making the OAS and the inter-American regional system work effectively for U.S. interests as well as for the broader interests of all the Americas. 

Ambassador Morales presented his credentials to serve as the United States' Permanent Representative to the OAS in March 2008.  He is also U.S. National Coordinator for the Summit of the Americas.  Previously Amb. Morales served as the United States' Executive Director at the Inter-American Development Bank and he has more than fifteen years of experience as a businessman and lawyer in the United States and Latin America.  He received his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law and his Bachelor's of History degree from Columbia College in New York.