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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2005 Secretary Rice's Remarks > April 2005: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Interview by Amaro Gomez-Pablos of Television Nacional Chile

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Santiago, Chile
April 29, 2005

[8:24 a.m. EDT]

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: I know that you are very straightforward. I'll try and be straightforward, too.


MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: If, in a last-minute move, Chile were to publicly drop its chief promoter and vote-getter, this is Hugo Chavez, would you then consider, perhaps, endorsing Insulza's candidacy?

SECRETARY RICE: I think we've been very clear that we feel the organization is lucky to have good candidates who want to be Secretary General. We have supported Foreign Minister Derbez. He is a really fine candidate. We've also said that we know Minister Insulza and could work with him, should he win. This is not about Venezuela. This is about the future of the organization, finding a really good candidate, and what does the organization stand for.

It's going to stand for a Democratic Charter that says that people who are elected democratically have to govern democratically. It's going to stand for a desire, I am sure, to see a 35th seat. There are 34 that are filled at the OAS. There's one that cannot be and that's Cuba, because it is not a democracy. To see progress toward Cuba being able to return to the community of nations, that's the future of this organization, and helping fragile democracies like Ecuador, which is what is going on right now.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: But what is Insulza lacking?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's --

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: For you to endorse him.

SECRETARY RICE: It's not a matter of anyone lacking. It is a matter of having good candidates. And we have fine relations with Insulza. We have known him for many years when he was Foreign Minister of Chile. I don't think this ought to be thought of in terms of personalities. We will find a really fine Secretary General. We have excellent candidates. And what we need to do is to focus now on finding a way to unify the organization again, finding a way that it doesnít get read somehow as a North-South split, because I really don't think that that is good for the organization.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: A rift, a division?

SECRETARY RICE: A rift or a division, when really, you're looking at two very good candidates. Finally, I would just say we are having discussions here while Iím in Santiago with several of the countries involved and I think everybody wants to come to a good resolution.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: Okay. But it's a final statement, basically? I mean, you would not be leaving the country and endorsing finally Chile's (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, what we will do is we will work very hard toward a resolution. Hopefully, before May 2nd, we can have a resolution that brings everybody together and we're working toward that.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: Excellent. Chile's military have apologized and Colin Powell timidly did so in his last visit. I was wondering, would you regard the meeting of the Community of Democracies as a good opportunity for the United States to openly apologize for its active engagement in the destabilization of democracy in Chile in 1973?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think we have to recognize that there is a clouded history of the '70s and precisely what happened. That will come over time. We will know more about the history of what happened. But the United States --

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: But the archives have been publicly known--

SECRETARY RICE: The United States, I think, fully understands that we went through some difficult periods and difficult times when perhaps it was not the finest hour for relations between the United States and Latin America. I am not one who believes that you can always go back and judge, out of historical context, actions that were taken in a particular historical period. But I do think that the United States has said, in several cases, that this was not our finest hour. We recognize that. We recognize that our support for democracy has not always been as strong as it should be, either in Latin America or, for instance, in the Middle East, where there was no support for democracy at all until very recently, when the President talked about the need to support democracy.

So we are now in the 21st century, and in the 21st century American foreign policy is governed by what President Bush said in his Inaugural, which is that our relations will depend, to a large part, on how governments treat their people. And the United States understands that that means that we have to be steadfast and stalwart for human rights, for democracy, for freedom of the press, for freedom of assembly, and that we have to support those governments that believe in those values.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: Corruption is a major theme in your visit through the region. Riggs Bank was accused and fined illegally for concealing General Pinochet's assets. If the Chilean Government were to ask you, would your Administration further collaborate in the United States investigating Pinochet's embezzlement of state funds?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we have an active cooperation to deal with whatever legal issues are there. Now, we also have a separation between our legal branches, which take care of cases like this, and the executive branch. This is also a matter of FBI investigation and legal investigation and I don't want to get involved in the details there.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: But would there be political will by (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: We are always going to do what is needed to support a legal process. The United States will always support legal processes.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: Especially because the principle at stake is corruption?

SECRETARY RICE: Obviously, we have also been very focused on the need to fight corruption, but when there is a legal process underway the United States supports to the fullest that legal process.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: And across Latin America, seven constitutionally elected presidents have left government prematurely in as many years. For many, the Ecuadorian crisis is actually a reminder of this broader institutional crisis throughout the region. Do you find Latin American democracy is in a healthy state or rather at risk, as many think?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, I think most Latin American democracies are quite healthy and some of the largest are very healthy. Places like Brazil, a very healthy democracy. I think that Chile is clearly a very healthy democracy here, a small but important state in the southern cone.

There are some fragile cases. There is no doubt about that. And that's perhaps not surprising given where the continent was 20 years ago that these institutions are not so strong. And you're right; there is reason to be concerned about the kinds of events that we've seen in a number of countries over the last couple of years. But that is all the more reason for the hemisphere to unite behind a program of supporting democratic institutional development.

Democracy is not just having a set of elections and then leaving it to people to sort of fend for themselves. Democracy and democratic development means the creation of stable institutions and that can be done through technical assistance, through help from the Organization of American States. That's the kind of thing that we're going to have to concentrate on.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: Is Hugo Chavez -- if you were to single out the greatest menace for the region, considering the purchase of weapons and his engagement with the FARC, et cetera, would you single out Hugo Chavez as the greatest menace today for the region?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I certainly think -- and we have said -- that we have serious concerns about the Venezuelan Government, about its behavior internally in terms of its own democratic government and in democratic institutions and its behavior in the region. The real threat, though, the real question, is: What kind of hemisphere are we going to be? Are we going to be a hemisphere in which people who are democratically elected govern democratically, in which there is transparency and accountability, in which democratic institutions are allowed to grow, in which there is a separation of powers between legislative branches and executive branches, in which there's a free press?

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: So you see what? You see Venezuela as Cuba, but with oil that's potentially at risk here?

SECRETARY RICE: There is one country that cannot fit at the OAS. That's Cuba and that's because it has not been democratically elected. We do have to have high standards for those who have been democratically elected, that they continue to rule and govern democratically. But the Venezuelan people and the American people have had longstanding, good and excellent ties and we would hope that that would be the case in the future. But this is really an issue not of U.S.-Venezuelan relations; this is an issue of what kind of hemisphere are we going to be.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: Regarding Cuba and Guantanamo Bay, when will the legal limbo of the people that are detained there be sorted out? When will they know, basically, what they're being charged for and tried?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, indeed, there is a process now that will review these cases regularly for continued issues of access, intelligence value, whether there is -- continues to be --

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: It's been for years (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Well, but we are still in a very tough war against terrorism. We look at what Zarqawi is doing in Iraq, but we also look at the fact that we see, every day, warnings of terrorist attacks that these -- that al-Qaida and their associates are trying to carry out around the world.

And I would just make one point about Guantanamo. We do not want to keep anybody in Guantanamo longer than necessary, but we have let some people out of Guantanamo who we have ended up meeting on the battlefield again. And we have to remember that the people who are at Guantanamo were picked up on the battlefields in Afghanistan fighting American and coalition forces. These are people who were part of the jihad, many of the professed parts of the jihad, and it's an extremely important security matter that we try not to release anybody so that they can decide to go and kill Americans or Spaniards or whoever else they'd like to kill again.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: Shortly, just what we talked at the beginning, the system of pensions. Are you looking in any way at the pension system in Chile?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, as you know, I donít have direct responsibility for this, but it's, of course, a major debate in the United States and a major goal of the President to modernize Social Security so that it can be available for our children. And I know the people who work on these kinds of issues and I know that they're interested in models from all over the world and, of course, everybody talks about the Chilean model as a very interesting example. So I'm quite certain that they are looking around the world for examples so I'm sure they know a great deal about what happened here in Chile.

MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: Excellent. Thank you for this interview.


MR. GOMEZ-PABLOS: A pleasure.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, everybody.


Released on April 29, 2005

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