From Obama web site
Promote Democracy in
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Renewing
It is my privilege to join in this week's Independence Day celebration, and in honoring those who have stood up with courage and conviction for Cuban liberty. I'm going to take this opportunity to speak about
These bonds are built on a foundation of shared history in our hemisphere. Colonized by empires, we share stories of liberation. Confronted by our own imperfections, we are joined in a desire to build a more perfect union. Rich in resources, we have yet to vanquish poverty.
What all of us strive for is freedom as FDR described it. Political freedom. Religious freedom. But also freedom from want, and freedom from fear. At our best, the
When George Bush was elected, he held out the promise that this would change. He raised the hopes of the region that our engagement would be sustained instead of piecemeal. He called
Almost eight years later, those high hopes have been dashed.
Since the Bush Administration launched a misguided war in Iraq, its policy in the Americas has been negligent toward our friends, ineffective with our adversaries, disinterested in the challenges that matter in peoples' lives, and incapable of advancing our interests in the region.
No wonder, then, that demagogues like Hugo Chavez have stepped into this vacuum. His predictable yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy offers the same false promise as the tried and failed ideologies of the past. But the
That is the record – the Bush record in
The stakes could not be higher. It is time for us to recognize that the future security and prosperity of the
So we face a clear choice in this election. We can continue as a bystander, or we can lead the hemisphere into the 21st century. And when I am President of the
It's time for a new alliance of the
The first and most fundamental freedom that we must work for is political freedom. The
I grew up for a time in
Now I know what the easy thing is to do for American politicians. Every four years, they come down to
My policy toward
Now let me be clear. John McCain's been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I'm looking for a social gathering. That's never what I've said, and John McCain knows it. After eight years of the disastrous policies of George Bush, it is time to pursue direct diplomacy, with friend and foe alike, without preconditions. There will be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. And as President, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the
I will never, ever, compromise the cause of liberty. And unlike John McCain, I would never, ever, rule out a course of action that could advance the cause of liberty. We've heard enough empty promises from politicians like George Bush and John McCain. I will turn the page.
I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That's the way to bring about real change in
And we know that freedom across our hemisphere must go beyond elections. In
We've heard plenty of talk about democracy from George Bush, but we need steady action. We must put forward a vision of democracy that goes beyond the ballot box. We should increase our support for strong legislatures, independent judiciaries, free press, vibrant civil society, honest police forces, religious freedom, and the rule of law. That is how we can support democracy that is strong and sustainable not just on an election day, but in the day to day lives of the people of the
That is what is so badly needed – not just in
For too many people in our hemisphere, security is absent from their daily lives. And for far too long,
The person living in fear of violence doesn't care if they're threatened by a right-wing paramilitary or a left-wing terrorist; they don't care if they're being threatened by a drug cartel or a corrupt police force. They just care that they're being threatened, and that their families can't live and work in peace. That is why there will never be true security unless we focus our efforts on targeting every source of fear in the
For the people of
We must also make clear our support for labor rights, and human rights, and that means meaningful support for
Because if we've learned anything in our history in the
This nexus is a danger to every country in the region – including our own. Thousands of Central American gang members have been arrested across the
We have to do our part. And that is why a core part of this effort will be a northbound-southbound strategy. We need tougher border security, and a renewed focus on busting up gangs and traffickers crossing our border. But we must address the material heading south as well. As President, I'll make it clear that we're coming after the guns, we're coming after the money laundering, and we're coming after the vehicles that enable this crime. And we'll crack down on the demand for drugs in our own communities, and restore funding for drug task forces and the COPS program. We must win the fights on our own streets if we're going to secure the region.
The third part of my agenda is advancing freedom from want, because there is much that we can do to advance opportunity for the people of the
That begins with understanding what's changed in
That is why the
For two hundred years, the
We cannot ignore suffering to our south, nor stand for the globalization of the empty stomach. Responsibility rests with governments in the region, but we must do our part. I will substantially increase our aid to the
Trade must be part of this solution. But I strongly reject the Bush-McCain view that any trade deal is a good deal. We cannot accept trade that enriches those at the top of the ladder while cutting out the rungs at the bottom. It's time to understand that the goal of our trade policy must be trade that works for all people in all countries. Like
And we have to look for ways to grow our economies and deepen integration beyond trade deals. That's what
While we share this risk, we also share the resources to do something about it. That's why I'll bring together the countries of the region in a new Energy Partnership for the
Leadership must begin at home. That's why I've proposed a cap and trade system to limit our carbon emissions and to invest in alternative sources of energy. We'll allow industrial emitters to offset a portion of this cost by investing in low carbon energy projects in Latin America and the
We'll enlist the World Bank, the Organization of American States, and the Inter-American Development Bank to support these investments, and ensure that these projects enhance natural resources like land, wildlife, and rain forests. We'll finally enforce environmental standards in our trade deals. We'll establish a program for the Department of Energy and our laboratories to share technology with countries across the region. We'll assess the opportunities and risks of nuclear power in the hemisphere by sitting down with
This is the unique role that the
This is the promise of FDR's Four Freedoms that we must realize. But only if we recognize that in the 21st century, we cannot treat Latin America and the
To fulfill this promise, my Administration won't wait six years to proclaim a "year of engagement." We will pursue aggressive, principled, and sustained diplomacy in the
And we must tap the vast resource of our own immigrant population to advance each part of our agenda. One of the troubling aspects of our recent politics has been the anti-immigrant sentiment that has flared up, and been exploited by politicians come election time. We need to understand that immigration – when done legally – is a source of strength for this country. Our diversity is a source of strength for this country. When we join together – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and native American – there is nothing that we can't accomplish. Todos somos Americanos!
Together, we can choose the future over the past.
At a time when our leadership has suffered, I have no doubts about whether we can succeed. If the United States makes its case; if we meet those who doubt us or deride us head-on; if we draw on our best tradition of standing up for those Four Freedoms – then we can shape our future instead of being shaped by it. We can renew our leadership in the hemisphere. We can win the support not just of governments, but of the people of the
Every moment is critical. And this must be our moment. Freedom.
That legacy is our inheritance. That must be our cause. And now must be the time that we turn the page to a new chapter in the story of the