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Financing Democracy in the Americas: Summit Set for March 17-19

ATLANTA....Bolivia Vice President Carlos Mesa, Chile Minister of the Interior Jose Insulza, Organization of American States Secretary General César Gaviria, U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, former Colombia President Andrés Pastrana, former Chile President Eduardo Frei, former Costa Rica President Miguel Angel Rodríguez, former Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez, and former Uruguay President Luis Alberto Lacalle are among the leaders who will join former U.S. President Jimmy Carter March 17-19 at The Carter Center to address the need to restore public confidence in government by enacting laws requiring full disclose of campaign finances.

The Carter Center's Americas Program and its Council of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Americas, in collaboration with the Organization of American States, are hosting Financing Democracy in the Americas: Political Parties, Campaigns, and Elections. The conference will address the growing disillusionment with political parties, perceptions of quid pro quos for campaign donations, and ways to finance parties and elections more honestly and legitimately. The Council selected the conference topic to express its concern about recent campaign finance scandals that have deeply damaged governments in the Western Hemisphere, such as the Samper government in Colombia and the Mahuad government in Ecuador. In North America, escalating campaign costs and concerns have led Canada and the United States to reform their campaign finance legislation, and in the Caribbean, traditionally stable party systems have suffered from corruption and increasing concerns of drug money going into party coffers.

"Money conscious voters across the hemisphere have begun to ask whether elections really allow them to hold governments accountable for enacting promised reforms, or whether politicians respond only to the special interest groups who, in large part, fund their campaigns," said Dr. Jennifer McCoy, director of the Center's Americas Program. "The problem is compounded where cash-strapped governments can ill afford to finance election campaigns and political parties out of public budgets."

The conference will culminate in a statement with concrete recommendations to be presented at a press conference during the final day of the conference, March 19 at 3 p.m.

Carter Center conference participants also include former Ecuador President Osvaldo Hurtado, former St. Lucia Prime Minister John Compton, former Barbados Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford, United Nations Development Programme Regional Director for Latin America Elena Martinez, OAS Unit for Democracy Promotion Unit Director Elizabeth Spehar, Inter-American Development Bank Division Chief Edmundo Jarquin, Corporación Andina de Fomento President Enrique García, and International IDEA Senior Executive Daniel Zovatto.

Based at the Americas Program, the Council includes more than 35 former leaders from the Western Hemisphere led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Once a pioneer in observing elections, the Council today works to deepen inter-American relations, foster democracy, and build governmental accountability. The Council uses its experience and voice to give visibility to pressing issues, search for cooperative solutions to problems, bring together divided countries, and promote policy reform and concrete action by multilateral organizations, governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations.

Financing Democracy in the Americas is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. Additional support is provided by Americas Gateway Strategy, the Consulate General of Germany, Delta Air Lines, King & Spalding, the Open Society Institute, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.


Editor's Note: Please consult the conference schedule below for a list of discussions open to the media. If you plan to attend the conference, you must register by calling Kay Torrance at 404-420-5129 by 4 p.m. EST March 12.


Monday, March 17, 2003
Location: The Carter Center, 453 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta.
Accredited press should enter through staff entrance (to the right of the executive offices' entrance) and check-in.

4:00 p.m. Opening remarks by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and OAS Secretary General César Gaviria. Press, in small groups, will be escorted to the state by Public Information staff for photographic opportunities.

4:30 - 6:15 p.m. First Plenary: The Broad Picture. Translation: Sessions will be conducted in English with simultaneous Spanish interpretation. Separate mult-box feeds for English (house sound) and Spanish will be provided.

  • Financing Democracy in the Context of Poverty by Elena Martinez of UNDP
  • Strengthening Political Parties by Elizabeth Spehar of the OAS
  • Principles Underlying Campaign Finance: What is at Stake by Burt Neuborne of New York University
  • Campaign Finance Law and Practice in Latin America by Daniel Zovatto of International IDEA

6:45 p.m. Press check-in (on ground floor) begins at King & Spalding law firm, 191 Peachtree St. NE. Television cameras must be set up by 7:15 p.m. Chick-fil-A will provide boxed dinners for media.

7:45 p.m. Keynote speech by U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays on campaign finance reform in the United States.

8:15 p.m. Keynote speeches by Bolivia Vice President Carlos Mesa and Chile Minister of the Interior Jose Insulza.

Tuesday, March 20, 2003 - All events are closed to press.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Location: The Carter Center, 453 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta.
Press should enter through executive offices entrance.

3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Cyprus Room: Press conference on Financing Democracy in the Americas. Only accredited press will be admitted.

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