By Caribbean News Now contributor
WASHINGTON, USA -- All eyes turned to Latin America and the Caribbean as the 44th annual conference of the Council of the America’s took place at the US State Department on Wednesday, highlighting the theme ‘Looking to the Americas - The United States in 2014.
Secretary of State John Kerry
As one of the noted speakers at the conference, US Secretary of State John Kerry, emphasized the fact that “economic policy is foreign policy and that the world’s new energy map is no longer centered on the Middle East but on the western hemisphere.”
While Kerry reiterated that the United States fully supports Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)-sponsored dialogues with its Latin America and Caribbean counterparts, he also went on to say that corruption and fragile institutions in the region also drive away investor confidence, thus making economic growth impossible.
Independent journalist and syndicated columnist Rebecca Theodore attended the conference to draw attention to the need for more democratic debates on Latin America and the Caribbean and why civil society should now begin to play its part in further strengthening the rule of law and citizen security.
Theodore also drew attention to the ongoing efforts by Russia to establish a foothold in Latin American countries, typically termed North America’s backyard, and specifically in Venezuela, where clashes between the elected government of President Maduro and the opposition are continuing.
The Council of the Americas is the premiere international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law and democracy throughout the western hemisphere.
The conference was also attended by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and other top officials and experts.