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Latin American Leaders Gather for Carter Center Summit on Challenges to Democracy in the Region

ATLANTA, GA.... Colombia Foreign Minister Guillermo Fernandez de Soto, Belize Prime Minister Said Musa, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Peter Romero, former Argentina President Raul Alfonsin, and former Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez are among the leaders who will join former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Oct. 16-18 at The Carter Center to address challenges to democracy in Latin America.

Hosted by the Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program (LACP) and its Council of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Americas, the conference will address the resurgence of populist leaders, the decline of political parties, the need for greater public security, and the many ways the military continues to intervene in Latin American politics. The Council selected the conference topic to express their serious concern about the direction of democracy in the region following recent events, including the election of a former coup leader in Venezuela, the third-term candidacy of Peru President Alberto Fujimori, a coup in Ecuador, and the failed constitutional reform in Guatemala and subsequent election of a party led by retired military officers.

"Democracy in Latin America is qualitatively thin, largely centered around elections," said Dr. Jennifer McCoy, director of the Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program. "In some countries, persistent poverty, uncontrolled crime, and ongoing corruption have adversely affected public confidence in democratic institutions, while in others the most basic electoral processes are being questioned. People feel that outside of the vote, they have little influence on public decision-making that affects their every-day lives. This conference will examine these issues to determine actions that can be taken by societal groups, national governments, and the international community to improve the quality of democracy at all levels of democratic development."

The conference will culminate in a statement and concrete recommendations on how to improve the quality of democracy to be presented at a press conference during the Challenges to Democracy in the Americas' final day, Oct. 18 at 9:00 a.m. The recommendations will be sent on to the 2001 Summit of the Americas of the Organization of American States (OAS) next April when the hemisphere's heads of state will consider the most important issues affecting the region. Strengthening democracy has been a recurring focus since the first summit in 1994.

Carter Center conference participants include U.S. Special Envoy for the Americas Kenneth "Buddy" MacKay, Andean Development Foundation President Enrique Garcia, the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Santiago Canton, Peruvian Ombudsman Jorge Santistevan de Noreiga, private sector leaders, scholars, journalists, nongovernmental organization representatives, and members of the Center's Council of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Americas. Council members who will attend include former Ecuador President Osvaldo Hurtado, former Uruguay President Luis Alberto Lacalle, and former Bolivia President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada.

Based at The Carter Center, the Council is a group of former and present heads of governments from throughout the Western Hemisphere who promote democracy and the peaceful resolution to the region's conflicts. Well-known for mediating and observing elections, the Council has observed elections in numerous countries, including Jamaica, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. The Council also promotes solutions to the region's debt crisis and encourages freer trade, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and a wider Free Trade Area of the Americas.

The conference Challenges to Democracy in the Americas is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. Additional support is provided by Delta Air Lines, Mr. Gustavo A. Cisneros, the McCormick-Tribune Foundation, United Parcel Service, and Invesco.

Editor's Note: Please consult the conference schedule for a list of discussions open to the media. If you plan to attend the conference, you must contact Deanna Congileo or Kay Torrance at 404/420-5129 by 4:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, Oct. 11.

Monday, Oct. 16, 2000 Location: The Carter Center, One Copenhill, 453 Freedom Parkway

1:30—2:00 p.m.
Opening remarks by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Dr. Jennifer McCoy, director of the Carter Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program.

2:00—3:30 p.m.
Plenary Sessions will be conducted in English with simultaneous Spanish interpretation. Separate mult-box feeds for house sound and Spanish interpretation will be provided for the media.

Plenary Panel 1: The Promise and Performance of Democracy Translation: . · Moderator: Dr. Jennifer McCoy, director, LACP, The Carter Center · The Quality of Democracy, New Challenges: Adolfo Nanclares, Argentine undersecretary for Latin American politics · Public Attitudes Toward Democracy: Marta Lagos, director, Latinobarometro, Chile · Democracy and Inequality: Edmundo Jarquin, chief, State and Civil Society Division, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) · Institutional Design and Accountability in Latin America: Laurence Whitehead, official fellow in politics, Nuffield College, Oxford University · The Citizens' Audit on Improving the Quality of Democracy in Costa Rica: Jorge Vargas Cullel, consultant, Estado de la Nacion, Costa Rica ·

3:30—4:00 p.m.
Coffee Break, Chapel Lobby Press Opportunity to interview participants one-on-one.

4:00—5:30 p.m.
Plenary Panel 2: Hemispheric Responses · Moderator: Dr. Shelley McConnell, associate director, LACP, The Carter Center · Collective Response to New Threats to Democracy: Dr. Robert Pastor, professor of political science, Emory University · The Potential and Limits for Multilateral Support for Democracy: Elizabeth Spehar, executive coordinator, Unit for Democracy, Organization of American States (OAS) · Supporting Democracy in the Andes: A Regional Approach: Enrique Garcia, president, Andean Development Corporation (CAF) · Strengthening Democracy: A U.S. Perspective: Peter Romero, acting assistant secretary of state for Latin America, United States · Opportunities Presented by the 2001 Summit of the Americas: Marc Lortie, personal representative of the prime minister on the Summit of the Americas, Canada ·

7:30—9:30 p.m.
King & Spalding host dinner. Keynote speakers to be determined. Translation: Speeches will be in English with simultaneous Spanish interpretation provided. Separate mult-box feeds will provide house sound and Spanish interpretation.

Tuesday, Oct.17, 2000
Working group discussions take place. All sessions are closed to the media.

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2000 Location: The Carter Center, One Copenhill, 453 Freedom Parkway

9:00—10:00 a.m.
Cyprus Room: Press conference to announce recommendations by participants in Challenges to Democracy in the Americas.

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