The U.S. can make another valuable contribution to improve the climate for democratic
change by paying more attention to environmental issues. The Amazon tellingly illustrates
the new ties that the U. S. and Latin America can
forge. Latin Americans are aware of the Amazon region’s importance to the sustainability of
the planet and as a driver of development. However, the perception that the countries holding
the Amazon within their territories are unable
to ensure its sustainability continues to cast a
shadow on the debate about the future of the
rainforest. This doubt is a relic from the vision of
Latin America as a problem and not an asset.
Brazil understands its responsibility. The
government, the scientific community, the
private sector, and civil society organizations
are engaged in the search for a new balance
between preservation and utilization, investing in knowledge and innovation to achieve
the sustainable management of environmental
resources for the well-being of those who live
off the land. Other Amazon region countries
have a similar understanding.
Striking a balance between preservation
de Oliveira is a
Center in Rio de
and exploitation raises huge economic and
technological challenges. Latin American countries have a long way to go to enhance their
capacities in fields where the U.S. is far more
advanced. That’s why scientific and technological partnerships, involving both the U. S. private
sector and local governments, to preserve and
manage the region’s resources, would be the
best way to fight poverty and improve the quality of life throughout the region.
The challenge of preserving the environment and of preserving democratic gains by
encouraging social innovation in the region
are closely linked. Democracy is always a work
in progress, an unfinished journey, constantly
reinvigorated by emerging demands and conflicts, such as the call for new relations of gender, ethnicity and sexual preference.
The forms taken by these demands, however, cannot be copies of the North American
experience. They take different shapes in different societies and cultures, even though sharing
democracy is a common value and the expansion of human freedom is the ultimate goal
for all. Latin America has entered a new historical phase of crisis, renewal, reflection, and
political change. The way forward is through
the strengthening of creative, informed and
empowered citizens—not in the reimposition
of state controls on society.
Democracy—as a process rooted in the history and culture of each society—is the inescapable pathway for dialogue and collaboration
between Latin America and the United States.
This notion is valid both at the macrosphere of
global management—as expressed in the debate
about the future of the Amazon region—and at
the microsphere in which women are leading
the way towards redefining work.
A new age is surely a challenge, but also a
time of great opportunity. Our goal should be to
turn the geographical imperative that makes us
neighbors into an opportunity to build a fresh
vision of our contemporary problems, ranging
from preserving the Amazon and managing
our resources to tackling today’s social chal-
a.new U.S. president who shares that goal, our hemisphere can be safer, fairer and happier.