WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom will travel to Asuncion, Paraguay, June 3-5 to lead the U.S. delegation to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Western Hemisphere’s premier multilateral organization.
The Deputy Secretary will meet with Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes and Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga, and will engage in discussions and consultations with regional counterparts on issues of shared interest.
The U.S. delegation will include Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: Thank you so much. Let me start off by saying – first of all, thanking the Foreign Press Center. They’re always gracious hosts and we’re grateful for this opportunity. It’s nice to be back with all of you, those we’ve seen so many times before. Ambassador Lomellin and I will talk a little bit about the goals and objectives and the way in which the OAS General Assembly fits into our overall policy, and then we’ll take your questions.
Next week, we will head off to Paraguay for the OAS General Assembly. The head of our delegation will be Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom. This year’s General Assembly has as its theme development with social inclusion, and you may know that the host of the General Assembly chooses the theme, so it was the Government of Paraguay that chose the theme. But I think that what’s really critically important for us to understand is it really is a very, very important theme, I think, for every country in the hemisphere. But for us, it highlights an aspect of our policy and a priority in our policy that, frankly, I don’t think gets nearly enough attention.
So for us, it is a very welcome theme for us to talk about in this year’s General Assembly, because it allows us to highlight something that we think goes under-reported and under-attended sometimes, and that is the fact that in the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve seen remarkable growth in this hemisphere, remarkable movement of those in poverty into the middle class, millions and millions of people.
But even as we’ve seen that growth in the middle class and we’ve seen significant movement towards economic integration and opening of markets and globalization in the hemisphere, we also have to recognize that new studies remind us that this is still the most unequal region in the world, having the highest levels of income inequality. There are still very high levels of both un- and under-employment, significant segments of the population still in the informal sector. Still a significant amount of economic exclusion, vulnerable populations, especially when we’re talking about Afro descendants, indigenous people, women, handicapped, LGBT, people who are not yet benefiting from that growth.
And so part of what we hope to do in this General Assembly is talk about ways all of us can work harder to make the growth that we’ve seen and the prosperity we’re all working so hard to bring to the region be so much more inclusive and affect and help so many more people. The growing middle class in this hemisphere demands of its government more. It demands more government services, it demands better education for its children, and it does so in the time-honored way of democracy through activism and organizing, and we’ve seen that in every country of the hemisphere, including our own. That is a sign of healthy democracy in many cases. But it also puts pressure on governments, as it’s intended to do, to respond to that growing middle class and the growing demands for better services, for better infrastructure, for greater accountability, for greater responsiveness to the needs of the population.
And so one of the things that this Administration has focused on is: How can we make the growth that we’re all striving for more inclusive? What kinds of programs can we as a federal government help to stimulate and encourage and support that will help achieve these outcomes? And so some of the things that we’ve done over the last five, six years have focused in this area. They are things like the Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality that we’ve launched with Brazil, and we’ve had a number of meetings with the Brazilian Government and with many NGOs in both countries on that issue; the Action Plan on Racial and Ethnic Equality with Colombia that we’ve worked on; an MOU on promoting gender equality, one with Mexico and one with Brazil; MOUs on women’s entrepreneurship with Peru, Colombia, and Mexico.
This month – some of you were there – we signed an MOU with Uruguay to promote racial and ethnic equality and social inclusion, exchanging best practices on equal access to employment, education, and credit. We launched the WEAmericas initiative – Secretary Clinton launched that in Cartagena in 2012 – which works to increase women’s economic participation by improving their access to training, mentoring, finance, and markets.
We have the Pathways to Prosperity initiative, which works with partners in the region to share best practices and spread the benefits of trade more broadly – the kind of thing I was talking about, trade and growth being very good things, but not always in themself reaching all of the segments of population; working on small business empowerment, financial inclusion, trade facilitation, workforce development, environmental protection, and sustainable development.
We have the Small Business Network of the Americas, which the President launched in Cartagena at the summit as well, expanding our small business development center model to provide training and resources, helping small business entrepreneurs succeed and create jobs, and connecting small businesses in the United States and in many countries in the region.
At the OAS, we funded the Inter-American Social Protection Network, which successfully brought together government and private sector members to create a partnership to develop financial inclusion programs. And having been at a conference – Carmen and I were both at a conference in New York just a couple of weeks ago on financial inclusion, because New York City is one of the most advanced cities in the world on expanding financial inclusion and enabling people to get access to credit, to become banked, and to get and start small businesses. It was a remarkable event with people from all over the hemisphere sharing stories and learning things about how to do better at getting people to enter the financial system and have access to the ability to control their own financial future and to be able to dream and explore ways that they could advance their own economic prosperity.
So these are some of the things that we have launched to try and improve the benefits of growth and prosperity, and spread them more equally and more broadly throughout the hemisphere. And those are the kinds of things that we will want to talk about in Asuncion in this General Assembly, which we’re really looking forward to as a very positive experience.
So Ambassador Lomellin.
AMBASSADOR LOMELLIN: Thanks very much, Roberta, and good afternoon to all of you. I think the last time I saw all of you was at midnight at the OAS, so it’s nice to see you in the daylight. (Laughter.) We’re thrilled that you were able to come out.
I really want to echo Assistant Secretary Jacobson in commending the Government of Paraguay in selecting the theme “Development with Social Inclusion” for all the reasons that Roberta gave. There are still many vulnerable groups out there; there is a demand for more and more services. And really it dovetails very nicely with our foreign policy and with our objectives of promoting social inclusion in the Americas.
I can’t say how thrilled we are that Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom will lead our delegation. The top – one of the top diplomats I think underscores the U.S. commitment to our – not only to the region, but to the importance that we place in multilateral diplomacy and the importance that we place on the OAS. Our engagement with the OAS is really a critical part of our efforts to advance our commitments that we share with the region to democracy and human rights.
We are looking forward to a productive, to a constructive General Assembly, and really to engage with the other member-states in really positive discussions on the critical issues that we all face. I don’t think you can say that poverty is only in one region or the lack of inclusion is only in another region. I think all of us face similar problems with – at different levels, but we face them.
And we’re also really looking forward to continuing the discussion on how we can really advance some of the substantive reforms that we’ve been calling on the OAS to do. It’s important to note that the promotion of socially inclusive growth must include by building effective, democratic institutions that deliver results, provide economic and social opportunity, and to safeguard citizen security.
I mentioned the issue of reform. We have been working very closely with Mexico and Canada, who are pretty much leading the charge on the development of a very future-looking strategic plan and also on the modernization of the OAS. We’re – these reforms will be adopted at the – by the General Assembly. And of special importance is the strategic vision. Secretary Clinton in 2010 called for OAS reform and mandated our mission and the Department of State with making sure that we pursued the reforms necessary to get the OAS to refocus on its core values, its core principles. And I feel very positive that we’ve had momentum with the measures that we’ve set in motion.
It’s important that the OAS be focused and not scattered all over the place. The OAS cannot be everything for everyone. It has to go back to its fundamental basic core functions, among them the defense and promotion of human rights, preserving the autonomy and the independence of the Human Rights Commission, our commitment to strengthening the implementation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and also promoting cooperation in the areas of public-private partnerships.
Roberta just mentioned that fabulous seminar in New York a couple of weeks ago, where there were very frank and ample discussions on how we can bring in the most vulnerable of our groups and begin the process of making sure that they are included, especially in the very, very important areas of finance and economics.
And of course, I know all of you have been following over the past few years what had been going on with the Human Rights Commission. We are strongly committed to ensuring that the commission remains an independent body, an independent institute – institution of the Inter-American System. And we will be working with other member-states to make sure that this happens. I think we have many shared values and it’s important that we focus on the areas of cooperation and not on the things that may divide.
I’ll stop right there. We look forward to this General Assembly. I’m convinced it’s going to be very positive and we’ll have very good results to report after Asuncion. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Okay. We’re going to move into questions now. I do ask that you please identify yourself by name and outlet. Please also wait for the microphone. We are transcribing. And if you have a question directed at one of our briefers here, please do indicate who that question is directed towards.
All right. We’ll go with Claudia.
QUESTION: Hi, I’m Claudia Trevisan from the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paolo. One of the issues that kind of been present in the OAS discussion is the situation of Venezuela. I’d like to know how does division inside the organization affect its effectiveness, and how they approve yesterday by the House of the project that imposed sanctions against members of the Venezuelan Government will affect the meeting in Paraguay? And what is the position of the Administration and how the Administration will deal with this project when it reach the Senate? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR LOMELLIN: Well, on the issue of Venezuela at the OAS, I mean, it’s – you were all there – it was – on the margins. It was very, very complicated sessions. We did not support the final declaration because we felt that it was not strong enough. We support the dialogue among all stakeholders, not just one party. And the important thing is to consider and to think about is that it was a very, very robust discussion on the issues of democracy, what constitutes democracy, and especially of the need to strengthen democratic institutions within all of the member-states.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: Right. And as Ambassador Lomellin said at the beginning of her remarks, that’s a core function of the OAS, right? And so that was one of the reasons we felt that the OAS had such a natural role in talking about events in Venezuela at the beginning of the protests earlier this year.
The issue of Venezuela is not currently on the formal agenda for the OAS General Assembly, but as in any other general assembly, things that are happening in the region at the time may very well be the subjects of conversation at the General Assembly, and I would not expect that to be unusual. It’s obviously something that all of the countries of the hemisphere are concerned about. And obviously, we also have seen the UNASUR countries continue with their efforts to try and move the dialogue forward. We certainly continue to hope that that dialogue can produce results, because dialogue is a good thing but it has to lead to results. And I think that so far that has not been the case yet.
Let me say that on the question of the sanctions legislation that’s moving through the U.S. Congress, we’ve been fairly clear, and I think the Secretary was clear about this recently as well. We believe we have the authority and the mechanisms to impose sanctions of any kind, either visa or assets, at the current time. The Executive Branch has sufficient authority now. We don’t feel new legislation is necessary.
The question of timing as to whether we would consider implementation of sanctions, we do not feel now is the right time. So therefore, we do not feel that now is the moment for implementation of those sanctions. But remember that that bill that passed the House is only through one of the houses of a bicameral legislature, so we’ll have to see what happens as we look towards the Senate.
And I would say that the fact of the matter is sanctions in any situation, whether one is talking about Ukraine, whether one is talking about Burma, as had been the case for years previously, sanctions are a tool. They are a tool to try and move actors in a dispute towards a resolution, towards actions that resolve a difficult situation. Venezuelans need to be talking and resolving problems within Venezuela. So in the end, the sanctions are not the main issue here. The main issue is: How do Venezuelans resolve what are legitimate concerns about the state of their democracy and the need to move forward on those concerns?
QUESTION: A follow-up? Thank you. Ruben Barrera with Notimex. On the issue of the sanctions of Venezuela, Roberta, I didn’t mean to interpreted your words, but the fact that you were saying that you don’t feel – I mean, when you’re saying “we,” I suppose you’re talking about the Administration doesn’t feel – the necessity to have a new legislation on sanctions. Does that mean – and I don’t – I know that you can’t spoke for the White House, but is the sense in that position that the – if the Senate approve this sanctions, the White House – I mean, President Obama will veto that legislation?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: No, no. That’s not what I said. Let’s be clear: As is frequently the case, the Executive Branch in this case does not believe we need new legislation to move on sanctions. That’s what I’m saying. In other words, were we to decide that sanctions were the right policy right now, we could do them right now. We would not need to wait for legislative action; there are sanctions authorities under current law. So my point is legislation is not needed, right?
We do not believe it is the right time to take that action. But whether or not this legislation passes – and I don’t know whether it will pass and I could not speak for the President in terms of what his actions would eventually be. I could not begin to tell you what the President would do. The fact of the matter is, as we’ve said from the beginning, all actions are on the table and it is possible that we would believe at a certain point that sanctions actions might be the right thing to do at a particular time to move the parties towards resolution and action. Again, sanctions are a tool; they are not an end point.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MODERATOR: We’re moving off topic now. Do you have another question?
QUESTION: On Venezuela also.
MODERATOR: Do we have another topic that we want to move to first? Then we can come back to that. I want to make sure we get to all the topics on the table. So, in the --
MODERATOR: In the back.
QUESTION: Hi. I’m Manuel Vial from La Tercera, Chile. And all the things you talked about – the commendable good intentions that the OAS meeting will have – they have to do about inequality basically. And I’m asking we are now in Chile running the tax reform, and my question would be to the Administration, because the tax reform is basically how you do things, the good become a reality? Chile is the most unequal – inequal country in the OECD, and it’s a quite necessary thing to do, but is it something – is it a backing from the Administration that President Bachelet is going to be here in a month? She just assumed as the president in March. So is it a backing from the Administration about the tax reform as a recommendable thing to do against the inequality?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: I think it’s a fair question, although I guess I would disaggregate your question just a little bit. President Bachelet – we expect the relationship with President Bachelet in her second administration to be just as positive and just as productive as it was in her first administration. And honestly the invitation for her to visit was in some ways not a question of any individual – was in every way not a question of any individual policy. It’s a question of an overall relationship that I think is expected and is already proving to be a very, very positive one.
As you probably know, Vice President Biden attended the inauguration. I was with him. He was delighted to be able to bring our ambassador to Santiago with him – Ambassador Hammer who’s there now – it really was an opportunity to kind of relaunch the relationship with Chile, which was a very productive one under President Pinera.
And so we anticipate a very positive relationship with President Bachelet, with Foreign Minister Munoz, and that really does not hinge on one particular policy or another. So I would not say that it’s an endorsement of tax policy.
You’re right, though. The issue of income inequality is one that I think most countries in the hemisphere are wrestling with, including the United States. And what each country decides do to overcome that problem, I think, is up to an individual country and their legislature, and their legislatures and their citizens. It isn’t an easy one though.
QUESTION: More Venezuela. (Laughter.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: That’s the way to go to the top of the list.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Venezuela. Hi, I’m Luis Alonso with AP. I understand that you’ll be visiting Ecuador in your way back or your way to Paraguay. And while it has been a rocky past month, President Correa has invited out the military office, the anti-narcotics. I understand USAID has to leave by September. Could you please talk us about your agenda there? Are there any other Departments that need to leave Ecuador soon? Is the U.S. – does reciprocate in any way? Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: Well, let me just say a couple things. I think Secretary Kerry and I feel pretty strongly that we’re going to do everything that we can to work towards, with Ambassador Namm in Quito, to work towards moving ahead in areas of our agenda that we see as mutually beneficial, ourselves and the Ecuadorian Government, areas that are pragmatic and that are positive. And there are areas in our agenda that clearly we can make progress on. There are disagreements between the two governments – there probably will continue to be – but it does not mean that there are not areas we can actually move forward on. And I look forward to having conversations in which we can advance the agenda items that we have mutual agreement on.
I think, for example, the President’s initiatives on education, including 100,000 Strong, square really well with the Correa administration’s focus on education and social inclusion. I think there are so many commonalities that there is a great deal of room for us to be working together on certain areas.
I should mention that it is possible I will have to postpone the trip because of some requirements to be back in Washington on the agenda. We’re discussing that now with the Ecuadorian Government, and the possibility exists that we’ll just have to move it by a short time. But it’s not a cancellation; it’s a possible postponement for schedules. But we feel really strongly that there are areas in which we can cooperate, and we want to try and move to a point where that relationship focuses on the areas we agree on and that we can move forward on. And we think we can get there, and so it’s worth investing some time in doing that.
MODERATOR: Okay. I’m going to go to the back, then I’m going to come here.
QUESTION: Hi, good afternoon. Flavia Barbosa, O Globo, Brazil. About the Human Rights Commission – I don’t know if you talked about it. I was not here. I’m sorry, I was late. Just after that Friday of 12 hours at the OAS, things got less crazy in terms of pushing for reforming the commission. Is there any particular concern right now after a year that – a new kind of a strike on the commission? And is there something that can happen during the General Assembly?
And my second question would be: You’re probably following the elections for the special rapporteur of freedom of expression. How – I would like to know how you’re evaluating the process and if – is there any kind of concern with the candidates, one of the six candidates.
AMBASSADOR LOMELLIN: Well, I’ll answer your last question first, on the issue of the special rapporteur. I understand that many resumes – close to 40, I believe somebody told me – of very, very qualified individuals have been received. The commissioners themselves will go through a really extensive process of reviewing every single application and then in making a decision on the naming of the rapporteur. We’re very confident that whoever the next rapporteur will be will just continue doing the excellent work that Catalina Botero has been doing.
As far as the issue of the Human Rights Commission, I mean, so much has already been done on the issue of strengthening the Human Rights Commission. Of course, there are some differences of opinion, but I think that most of what needed to be said has already been said. It won’t stop anybody from making additional comments, but I think that for right now, things are fine with the commission.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: And I think one of the things that gets lost in – how did you put it, Flavia? I think you said a little less crazy or a little – you didn’t say things were getting better; you said they were getting less worse or something, less crazy.
QUESTION: That’s what I said. Less crazy.
PARTICIPANT: She said less crazy.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: It’s just – it’s great, isn’t it? That’s a great phrase, right? But I think one of the things that gets lost in the less craziness or the more craziness – one of the things that gets lost is – part of the process – and God bless her, Carmen was really instrumental in all of this – part of the process that stirred up a lot of this conversation over the last two years was a process of reform in the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, which brought about some changes that have been really beneficial, right.
And another thing that happened over the last couple of years was commissioners who kind of made the circuit around the hemisphere going to visit different countries, talking with governments – and frankly, I think, clearing the air in some ways about some of the things that governments were concerned about – and there are some new ideas about ways in which civil society and the commission and governments can work together, all of which was, frankly, necessary. So there were real, practical benefits that came out of that process even though, yes, there was also quite a bit of controversy.
MODERATOR: We’re going to come up here to the front, second row.
QUESTION: Thank you. Hi, Julio Marenco with NTN24. Going back to the OAS meeting, are you planning on having a bilateral with the Venezuelans down there since you have stressed before the importance of talking face to face and not only through the media? And there’s obviously been a lot of back and forth in the media in the past few days.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: We’ve also said – since you’re going to quote myself back to me and my secretary back to me – which is always good, I appreciate that, people have been paying attention – but we’ve also said something else, which is that in the end, what’s taking place in Venezuela right now is not about the bilateral relationship. It’s really not about us. It’s about Venezuela and Venezuelans. And the conversation has got to be among Venezuelans. So the fact is I don’t really anticipate having a bilateral with the Venezuelan Government because we had a bilateral at a very high level between foreign ministers at the last General Assembly, and I think it was a fairly optimistic conversation. And we’re not in the same place this year. And we’ve said for quite a while now since the protests began in February that we needed to see movement towards – again, going back to this word, towards results of the dialogue before we felt we could go back to having a more direct dialogue on our own bilateral relationship with Venezuela, and we haven’t seen those results in the dialogue in Venezuela yet.
QUESTION: Thank you. Silvia Ayuso from the German Press Agency. As we – you’ve mentioned before the issue on – the protest in Venezuela has been a very tricky issue. Inside the OAS, there was this discussions you weren’t – I mean, this declaration you weren’t – didn’t totally agree with, and there was the issue with the Congresswoman Machado and that she couldn’t talk.
So in the end, the – so far as I understand, the international community, the Americas decided to let – try the UNASUR to broker a dialogue. Right now, apparently this dialogue is not going nowhere – anywhere, or it’s not producing the expected results. So you’re going to meet again in next week all the countries. Is there any chance that if there is no progress in the UNASUR-brokered dialogue that you might – I mean, that the OAS might try a new push somehow – that the OAS will retake the issue of the dialogue, given that the UNASUR that was the first (inaudible) – what the countries said that they wanted to prioritize is not really working. And we’ve given them – or they’ve given them a lot of time to try that one.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: I think one of the most important things to remember is that the OAS is made up of the member states. And the member states in this case – a pretty big chunk of the member states are, in fact, UNASUR. And UNASUR reflects the member states who in many ways have the greatest interest and the greatest connection to what’s going on on the ground in Venezuela.
So that does not mean that it could not be discussed within the OAS. It does not mean that, frankly, our position still would not be – we would welcome action by the OAS. That has been the case from the start. But I don’t know whether at this stage member states within the OAS would make a move to attempt something new or different from the UNASUR/Vatican effort within the OAS.
I think all doors need to be kept open because it’s a serious situation. I think everyone is concerned about it. That is clearly reflected in the UNASUR effort – that member states are concerned about this; that people and countries want to try and help in some way. So I suppose that it’s always a possibility. But again, the OAS as an institution – and the Secretary General reminds us of this all the time – is a reflection of the member states and the willingness and desire of the member states to move ahead.
MODERATOR: I think we can take one more question on this topic before we move off with – for probably what will be our last question. So I’ll come up here to the front.
QUESTION: Hi. Daniel Pacheco with Caracol Television. You seem to frame the question of sanctions in a matter of timing, but you’ve also made great arguments against sanctions. And I think you said in the Senate hearing that sanctions would galvanize the Venezuelan Government. And looking into what’s happening in Venezuela, things don’t seem to be getting better. There were some very outrageous accusations against someone who worked, like, very closely to you – the actual – the ambassador in Bogota, Kevin Whitaker. So my question is: Is it a question of timing, or what else in that toolkit, which you mentioned, is there other than sanctions?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: I think it’s a great question. I appreciate that. It is, in fact, more than a question of timing, and I appreciate the ability to expand the aperture a little bit. In the end, what always has to be decided in cases of conflict like this, right – a situation in which a very significant portion of citizens in Venezuela have real concerns, legitimate concerns about the way in which their government is operating. And the concerns cannot seem to be expressed within the normal democratic framework, right? There is not much space for them necessarily in the media. There is decreasing space for them in the judiciary or in normal political life. These are some of the concerns that they have, and therefore this was part of the reason that the dialogue was begun, because Venezuela was so polarized. And obviously, there were protests that were taking place that brought some of this to a head, and I think the intervention or mediation of the UNASUR countries was a desire to reduce that polarization and get everybody talking to each other, for the first time in quite a while, on national television at the beginning.
But the fact is when you look at a situation that’s very, very tense like that and where you’d like to try and help open democratic spaces for all Venezuelans, there are a number of different tools, right, one of which is working with other countries throughout the Hemisphere to try and be unified in a message of dialogue and results and opening of democratic space and reducing violence and reducing the reaction of government or quasi-government forces to peaceful protests. All of those things are much more effective if they’re done in concert with your neighbors, preferably in concert with 33 neighbors in the OAS. But certainly, the more we can work with the countries of UNASUR, of the Caribbean, of Central America, with Mexico, with Canada, the more effective any actions we take will be, whether it is to try and influence the Government of Venezuela or opposition parties, leaders, et cetera.
And so it isn’t just a question of saying, “Will we take action on sanctions,” be they these irrevocations, be they asset freezing, which – there are different kinds of sanctions as well. It’s also a question of what else you do. And the more you work with allies – and those allies can be European, they can be regional, they can be sub-regional – the more you work with allies, the more effective whatever it is you’re doing will be.
The fact is that we have already seen the way in which sanctions can be counterproductive, because the sheer publication of the Senate passing sanctions legislation through committee – that’s not through the whole Senate; that’s one committee of one house of the U.S. legislature – resulted in an action of rejection by UNASUR at a meeting last weekend, and I think really stimulated the Venezuelan Government to frame this problem again as one of the U.S. Government trying to overthrow the Venezuelan Government, which is complete nonsense. So I think it is – it was not exaggerated, the concern we had that sanctions could be used as a distraction from the real problem, which is Venezuelans needing to talk to each other in an inclusive dialogue with results.
But everybody has to be aware that as you look at the tools you use and you see whether or not they work, you have to keep looking, right, for things that are effective. And I think each of us in the region may have different perceptions of how long our timeline is, how much patience each of us might have for a solution. I’m quite certain and legitimately convinced that we should not have some people unable to peacefully protest and have a tolerance for that, and there are people who feel that we should be doing more sooner, because that right is not being respected. We all want to try and ensure that those rights upheld in the Inter-American Democratic Charter and other documents to which we’ve all subscribed will be upheld. The way in which we try and bring that about most effectively is really the question. I think the goals are the same.
And so this is a judgment call in diplomacy that is always difficult. But the greater grouping we have of countries that we work with and who do the same thing at the same time, the much greater chance we have of success. And success looks like Venezuelans implementing change towards greater respect for human rights and democracy within Venezuela. It isn’t a victory for the United States or Brazil or UNASUR or the OAS; it’s a victory for Venezuelans. But that success will be much more quickly achieved if we actually all work together. So I appreciate the opportunity to talk about other things that we may be able to do, whether it’s recourse to international institutions; whether it’s sanctions; whether it’s more dialogue, other actors being part of it. There are always things you can talk about with allies to try and make that desire for greater effectiveness work better.
QUESTION: And if I understood you correctly, you are – even though things in Venezuela and the dialogue don’t seem great right now, the presence of the UNASUR players and other external players like the Vatican – their presence there right now is okay with you and it looks good that they’re there, and that is why you feel that this is something that should be given more time?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JACOBSON: Well, I certainly don’t think – I certainly don’t think that we should – I don’t think it’s for the United States to say whether their presence there is good or bad, but I think everything that we’ve seen from those who are attempting to mediate in Venezuela, it seems to me is an effort to move things ahead in a positive way. So far, they haven’t achieved what they’ve sought. But – and at some point there may be an acknowledgement that it hasn’t worked, whether that’s by them, by us, by the government, by the opposition. I’m not – I don’t know who pronounces that, or who’s legitimate to pronounce that, other than them.
But the truth is right now, as they are still trying, we want to still support them if there is still any chance that things might move ahead. But we would certainly urge them to do all that they can to move the government to results of those conversations.