Francisco O. Mora
January 13, 2023
I’m so grateful and honored to see all of you here today. You all had a part in this journey that culminated in the oath I took a few moments ago. I look forward to thanking each of you in person and hope to continue counting on your support as I take on this important task.
I’m deeply grateful and humbled by the confidence President Biden and Secretary Blinken have placed on me at such a critical juncture, not only for the OAS but for U.S. relations with the Western Hemisphere. I promise to fulfill your pledge/commitment to bringing values-based multilateralism and diplomacy back to US foreign policy. I also want to thank the Senate for giving me this opportunity to serve my country. I make a promise to the Congress that I will work closely and consult with members and their staffs on issues of mutual interest/concern, such as regional inter-parliamentary engagement and OAS reform.
I want to take a few moments to recognize and express my gratitude to members of my family that are here today: my wife of twenty-nine years Ivette and children, Daniella and Frankie, without whose love and constant support I likely would not be here today. Ivette, all these years you and our wonderful kids have been a font of inspiration and devotion that has guided me through these many marvelous years. Thank you.
To my parents (so happy that you are here) – Nivardo and Mirka – (who have been married for 60 years) thank you for your unwavering love and support and for the many sacrifices you made after fleeing Communist Cuba, so that my brother Jorge and I could have the opportunity to fulfill our dreams and give back to a country that so generously provided opportunities to our family. Their hard work and example inspired my brother and I to not only fulfill our goals but to live a life with integrity, purpose and service. One can only aspire to be half the spouse, parent, person you have been. Mom/Dad, thank you.
My brother Jorge is here today with his wife Kelly and daughter Alexa – my other niece Karina was not able to be with us as she is immersed (we hope) in her studies in Spain. Thank you so much for being here and for your steadfast support and love. It means so much that we can share this moment together.
I also would like to thank all those that helped me to prepare for this unique experience. What makes dealing with the important topics before the Inter American System so interesting is the dedicated people with whom I have the honor of serving. From the National Security Council at the White House to the State Department, USAID, the Defense Department, the Congress and beyond, I welcome and thank all of you. And of course, a very special thanks to the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and to my terrific, talented and committed team of dedicated public servants at the U.S. Mission to the OAS.
Upon taking office, President Biden rededicated the United States to multilateral cooperation and to a renewed focus on human rights and democracy. The OAS and the Inter-American system stand at the center of making that commitment to cooperation and renewal a reality.
The OAS has a unique role and mandate in the Americas to promote a hemispheric commitment to the values of representative democracy, human rights, diversity and tolerance, inclusive development, and security. Fighting discrimination and inequality stands as an additional core value of the OAS.
It is a vital forum in which democratic nations, with an unequivocal commitment to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, can discuss and address key regional issues, such as democratic backsliding, and challenges that threaten the well-being of citizens of the Americas, such as climate change and health care challenges, including future pandemics.
It is worth emphasizing – our concerted efforts to stand up for democracy and human rights in our region – guided by the Inter-American Democratic Charter – are central to the work of the OAS in securing for all our citizens a hemisphere of liberty and prosperity. President Biden spoke to these efforts when he underscored at the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles that, “There is no reason why the Western Hemisphere can’t be the most forward-looking, most democratic, most prosperous, most peaceful, secure region in the world. We have unlimited potential. We have enormous resources and a democratic spirit that stands for freedom and opportunity for everybody.”
At the same time, the complex challenges of today also “require governments to cooperate if they are to solve them.” As a result, our hemisphere cannot do without the Inter-American system and its many instruments, bodies and spaces for dialogue and solution-based mechanisms. In short, a capable, effective and responsive OAS is indispensable for the future of the Americas.
As President John F. Kennedy noted in a speech before the Permanent Council not long after his inauguration in 1961,
“The Organization of American States represents a great dream of those who believe that the people of this hemisphere must be bound more clearly together. It seems to me it is our function and our responsibility, in our day, to make this organization alive, to make it fulfill its function, to make it meets its responsibilities, and not divert ourselves always with developing new institutions, when we have one which was nurtured in time, which has served well in the past and which can, if we give it our lasting support, serve us well in the future.” (14 April 1961).
President Kennedy’s clarion call is as true today as it was over 60 years ago. We have no choice but to commit ourselves to this indispensable institution that has contributed so much in the last three quarters of a century to peace, inclusive development, democratic governance, respect for human rights and to solving intractable problems through collaboration/coordination since the adoption of the OAS Charter in 1948. We owe it to this legacy to ensure the OAS remains faithful to the promise and commitment of its founders to have an institution that, as President Kennedy said, “represents the great dream of those who believe that the people of the hemisphere be bound more closely together” in pursuit of its values and a peaceful and prosperous Americas.
Thank you for being with me this afternoon. I look forward to working with each and every one of you to ensure that democracy delivers results for all the peoples of the Americas