- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Democracys promise
Democracy reigns in all countries in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba, but "the stark contrasts between rich and poor are creating growing political problems," a top U.S. diplomat said yesterday.
Peter Romero, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said democracy brings the promise of prosperity that governments have a responsibility to fulfill.
"The biggest gap between expectations and reality is (the) continuing widespread poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean," he told the Council of the Americas at a State Department conference.
More than 150 million people still live on $2 a day or less, roughly the same income as 20 years ago, he said.
"The stubborn persistence of poverty is exacerbated by the highly unequal distribution of wealth and income in the region, the most skewed among the major regions of the world," he said.
"At a time when instant communications between village and city are increasingly common, the stark contrasts between rich and poor are creating growing political problems."
Mr. Romero noted that democracy has brought some improvements throughout the region, especially by promoting the rule of law and human rights.
"People expect democracy to bring good government, in contrast to corruption, inefficiency and arbitrariness of the past in some of the hemispheres states," he said.
Mr. Romero cited Mexico as an example of a country that has achieved democratic benefits from an open market under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"Courts and police systems are improving. Bureaucracies are becoming more efficient. Human rights abuses have declined. Women have increased access to leadership positions. And beyond trade, this is the promise of NAFTA. But the rates of change are too slow in many countries," he said.
"The countries of the region must work together to assure that democratic institutions win the trust of citizens by providing equity, demonstrating an ability to deliver services that people want and need."
Mr. Romero said he is hopeful that even Cuba cannot resist democratic change.
"Fidel Castros outmoded Marxist state has been able to withstand a variety of challenges during its 40 years of existence," he said. "I am convinced, however, that democratic and increasingly prosperous neighbors are an inexorable force for change within Cuba, which Castro and his successors will not be able to resist."
Secretary of State Colin Powell, who also addressed the conference, urged governments in the hemisphere to create conditions that will encourage investment.
Remember, he said, "money is a coward."
"It will not go where it does not feel safe," he said. "It will not go where there is not a legal basis for the government, where there is not a legal basis for contracts. It will not go where there is the danger of democracy slipping away. It will not go to those places where it cannot earn a profit and return that profit to investors.
"Its as simple as that. So democracy and trade and free enterprise all go together. Its as simple as this. Free people — free people to pursue their dream."

Wheres Jamie?
Looking for James Rubin? The former State Department spokesman who married a star CNN reporter and moved to London has a new job.
Mr. Rubin, known to reporters as "Jamie," has joined the Brunswick Group, a global communications firm based in London, with offices in New York, Paris, Germany and South Africa.
"I will be a partner, focusing on building business in continental Europe and the United States," Mr. Rubin told us yesterday in an e-mail message.
He will continue to teach a course on American foreign policy at the London School of Economics and comment on foreign affairs in newspapers and on television.
Mr. Rubin, who held the rank of assistant secretary of state, moved to London after marrying CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour.
The Times of London said Brunswick partners earn around $143,300 with potential bonuses of up to double that amount. The paper also said that Mr. Rubin turned down offers from investment banks like Goldman Sachs.
Mr. Rubin can be reached at the Brunswick Group, 16 Lincolns Inn Fields London WC2A 3 ED, UK.


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