Latin America contributing to global prosperity: Obama

"Increasingly, Latin America is contributing to global prosperity and security. As longtime contributors to UN peacekeeping missions, Latin American nations have helped to prevent conflicts from Africa to Asia. At the G20, nations like Mexico, Brazil, Argentina now have a greater voice in global economic decision-making," Obama said in his major foreign policy speech on Latin America in Santiago, Chile.

"Under Mexican leadership, the world made progress at Cancun in our efforts to combat climate change. Nations like Chile have played a leading role in strengthening civil society groups around the world," he said.

Obama said Latin America is not the old stereotype of a region in perpetual conflict or trapped in endless cycles of poverty.

The world must now recognize Latin America for the dynamic and growing region that it truly is, Obama said.

"Latin America is at peace. Civil wars have ended. Insurgencies have been pushed back. Old border disputes have been resolved. In Colombia, great sacrifices by citizens and security forces have restored a level of security not seen in decades," he said.

"Just as old conflicts have receded, so too have the ideological battles that often fueled them -- the old stale debates between state-run economies and unbridled capitalism; between the abuses of right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing insurgents; between those who believe that the United States causes all the region’s problems and those who believe that the US ignores all the problems.

Those are false choices, and they don’t reflect today’s realities," he said.
"Today, Latin America is democratic. Virtually all the people of Latin America have gone from living under dictatorships to living in democracies. Across the region, we see vibrant democracies, from Mexico to Chile to Costa Rica.

We've seen historic peaceful transfers of power, from El Salvador to Uruguay to Paraguay. The work of perfecting our democracies, of course, is never truly done, but this is the outstanding progress that's been made here in the Americas," he said.

Today, Latin America is growing. Having made tough but necessary reforms, nations like Peru and Brazil are seeing impressive growth. As a result, Latin America weathered the global economic downturn better than other regions. Latin America is coming together to address shared challenges, he said.

Chile, Colombia and Mexico are sharing their expertise in security with nations in Central America.

When a coup in Honduras threatened democratic progress, the nations of the hemisphere unanimously invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter, helping to lay the foundation for the return to the rule of law.

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