<!-- IMAGE -->
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the ideal of freedom is what binds together the nations of the Americas:
"This is the original promise of the Americas, and the modern history of the region has been the quest -- imperfect, to be sure -- to fulfill it. The people of our hemisphere have had to overcome colonialism, and slavery, and tyranny, and together we have built a pan-American consensus that free economies and democratic governments are the right of every one of our citizens. There is only one country, tragically, whose people do not live under a government of their choosing, and that is the nation of the great people of Cuba."
Despite progress, said Secretary of State Rice, too many men, women, and children in Latin America are still excluded from its opportunities. The region's governments, she said, must show that democracy can deliver lasting development and social justice -- not just to elites, but to ordinary citizens:
"Democracy, at its best, is not a status quo idea. It is a radical idea, capable of sparking individual revolutions in the human condition - of transforming people's lives through self-improvement and social mobility. But to do so, democratic leaders must govern justly, they must fight corruption, and they must invest in their people. They must reform their state institutions to be more transparent, and inclusive, and accountable. And they must build dynamic, resilient economies that adapt to change, that harness the opportunities of regional and global trade, and that hold out hope to the poorest and weakest among us. That is how democracy leads to social justice."
The United States, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is committed to helping advance social justice in the Americas.