Excerpt from U.S. President Barack Obama's remarks today at the Palacio de la Moneda in Santiago, Chile:
More than 60 years ago, our nations came together in an Organization of American States and declared -- and I quote -- that “representative democracy is an indispensable condition for the stability, peace and development of the region.” A decade ago, we reaffirmed this principle, with an Inter-American Democratic Charter that stated -- and I quote -- “the people of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.”
Across the Americas, generations, including generations of Chileans, have struggled and sacrificed to give meaning to these words -- ordinary men and women who dared to speak their mind; activists who organized new movements; faith leaders who preached social justice; the mothers of the disappeared who demanded the truth; political prisoners who rose to become presidents; and, even now, Las Damas de Blanco, who march in quiet dignity [...]
[J]ust as we defend democracy and human rights within our borders, let's recommit to defending them across our hemisphere. Every nation will follow its own path, and no nation should ever impose its will on another. But surely we can agree that democracy is about more than majority rule; that simply holding power does not give a leader the right to suppress the rights of others; and that leaders must maintain power through consent, not coercion.
Let's never waver in our support for the right of people to determine their own future, and that includes the people of Cuba. Since taking office, I've announced the most significant changes to my nation's policy toward Cuba in decades. We've made it possible for Cuban-Americans to visit and support their families in Cuba. We're allowing Americans to send remittances that bring some economic hope for people across Cuba, as well as more independence from Cuban authorities.
Going forward, we'll continue to seek ways to increase the independence of the Cuba people, who are entitled to the same freedom and liberty as everyone else in this hemisphere. At the same time, Cuban authorities must take meaningful actions to respect the basic rights of the Cuban people—not because the United States insists on it, but because the people of Cuba deserve it.
Finally, the lessons of Latin America can be a guide for people around the world who are beginning their own journeys toward democracy. There is no one model for democratic transitions. But as this region knows, successful transitions do have certain ingredients. The moral force of nonviolence. Dialogue that is open and inclusive. The protection of basic rights, such as peaceful expression and assembly. Accountability for past wrongs. And matching political reform with economic reform, because democracy must meet the basic needs and aspirations of people.
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- In My Humble Opinion, Pt. 26
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- Obama on Cuba (from Chile)
- Youth Going Wild (for Freedom)
- Keep an Eye on the Castros
- Message to Tyrants
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