Monday, June 01, 2009

Travel: Hillary Clinton, Day two in El Salvador

Secretary Clinton attended the inauguration of newly elected President Mauricio Funes today.

She joined officials from about 75 countries at the inauguration. "It's a real testament to the strength and durability of democracy in the Americas," Clinton said of the inauguration as she arrived in El Salvador on Sunday for a three-day visit to Latin America.

Funes is a former TV journalist who hosted local news programs critical of past governments. He won El Salvador's presidential election in March. It was a momentous victory for the left in a nation where memories of a civil war that killed 75,000 people, many by right-wing death squads, hang heavy over politics.

The inauguration of Funes ends two decades of rule by the conservative and pro-U.S. ARENA party. Clinton said today that the peaceful transfer of power between two formerly warring parties was indicative of changes in the region.

"Elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere, democratic elections and free market economies have become the norm over the past 15 years," she said.

"Today in El Salvador, I am joining other leaders from around the world in celebrating the historic inauguration of President-elect Funes and the promise of democracy to transform people's lives."
He has said he will have his own style of leftist government and has no reason to model himself after Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez or Nicaragua's staunch leftist Daniel Ortega -- neither of whom attended the inauguration.

But Funes also repeated in his inauguration address his pledge to restore diplomatic and cultural ties with Cuba, leaving the United States as the last country in the region without ties with the communist nation.

Hillary reinforced a good relationship between the U.S. and El Salvador. "The United States, under President Obama, is taking a new approach to this region... We are going to work together with the incoming government of El Salvador, as we have with the outgoing government."

After the inauguration, the Secretary held a bilateral meeting and joint press availability with the new President later in the day.

After that, it was wheels up for Honduras for the meeting of the General Assembly of the OAS. The Secretary plans to be at a top-level meeting of the Organization of American States that will test the Obama administration's new openness toward Cuba.

"We have said that we look forward to the day when Cuba, if it so wishes, can rejoin the OAS," she said, adding, however, that "we believe that membership in the OAS comes with responsibilities and that the we must all hold each other accountable."

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Hillary looks great in those vibrant colors.

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