The Americas are in the midst of dynamic, positive change, said Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Driving that change, he said, has been the spread of democracy, free markets, and economic integration. This is a region that has completed the first and most dramatic stage of political change, Mr. Shannon noted. It has moved largely from authoritarian governments to democratically elected governments. It has moved from closed economies to open economies that rely on trade to link to globalized markets.
The goal of U.S. policy in the region is to help democracies address the dramatic social obstacles this region faces, especially poverty, inequality, and marginalization.
To further that goal, the United States will focus on four major objectives. The first is to consolidate democracy and the democratic gains of the past, said Mr. Shannon. Second, the U.S. will work to promote prosperity and economic opportunity in the region. But opportunity doesn't mean much if people don't have the skills or means to take advantage of the opportunities. And so a third focus of U.S. policy will be to invest in people.
Supporting all of the efforts will be a fourth focus: contributing to the security of Latin America. Assistant Secretary of State Shannon observed that there is a vital link between security and prosperity. "By protecting the people of the Americas, we strengthen democracy, promote social justice, and create a secure space for citizens and states to pursue economic prosperity," he said.
Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon says the United States is committed to furthering political, economic, and social advancement in the Americas. The U.S., he said, will link democracy with development generate broad-based growth through freer trade and sound economic policies, invest in the well-being of people from all walks of life, and make democracy serve every citizen more effectively and justly."