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ILC Americas Session 3: Strengthening Ties in the Americas Through Building New Bridges and Opportunities to Increase Mutual Cooperation

The Americas—The International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) addressed the topic “Strengthening Ties in the Americas Through Building New Bridges and Opportunities to Increase Mutual Cooperation” as part of UPF’s global problem-solving conference. It was one of nine webinar sessions simultaneously occurring in three time zones (Korea, Japan, Asia-Pacific; Africa, Europe, Middle East; North America, Central America, South America, Caribbean) during the September 11–13 International Leadership Conference. The online program was open to all who registered and was watched by 593 viewers from 27 nations.

The moderator was Dr. Simão Ferabolli, who is Secretary General of UPF South America.

The panelists contributed the following remarks.

Hon. Dan Burton (U.S. House of Representatives 1983–2013; International Co-Chair, IAPP):

IAPP is not the first time legislators from different countries have met, but this organization is unprecedented in scale. When we first met in Seoul, Korea four years ago, and founded this association, there were 150 parliamentarians from about 40 nations gathered in a hall at the Korean National Assembly. We spread the word, and when we met again two years later, the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace had grown to nearly a thousand members of the national parliaments and congresses of close to 120 countries.

We try to tone down the political and elevate the humane. Joe DeTrani said that this group is ideal for working on the North Korea–South Korea problem. The potential for global disruption is greatest since the Cold War. One project being discussed is a global pandemic early warning network. We are already discussing this among ourselves. With parliamentarians working together worldwide, this kind of network could possibly shorten the time between an outbreak and calling the world’s attention to it.

Hon. Silvia del Rosario Giacoppo (National Senator, Argentina)

I want to say thank-you for allowing me to participate. We need to redouble our efforts to create peace. As a Latin American, I am very worried that we have a dangerously fragmented health system. COVID has been the worst health situation in the past hundred years. It has pushed 96 million in the Americas into extreme poverty. The urgency of North and South America to work together is more imperative than at any other time. We cannot keep doing as we have always done. We have a great opportunity to reverse the damage done by our neglect. The situation threatens human rights and even democracy itself. We can’t expect to have human rights if we do not have peace and sustainable development. The virus has unmasked our vulnerability. Dialogue, inclusion, cooperation—we need to build new bridges between all our sectors. We must build clear accountability at all levels. We need to foster true brotherhood. It is the right of all human beings to work together in unity and diversity. We need to improve our empathy and learn how to listen to one another to create a greater community of peace

Hon. Samuel García Sepúlveda (Senator, Mexico)

I propose a fiscal plan to address the economic crises of this time—of employment, housing and health. How can we get the funds to support these measures? We need to lower the current taxes, including sales tax. In Mexico there is a digital tax on all online services. This needs to be reduced. Because of the free trade treaty with the United States, we were able to avoid many tax increases. It has brought great benefits to our country. I hope it can be expanded to create many more such treaties with all the countries of the Americas. We should do all we can to encourage and motivate online commerce internationally.

Hon. Loretta Sanchez (U.S. House of Representatives 1997–2017)

I was chairwoman of the Border and Critical Infrastructure Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee. When I came to Congress in 1997, the United States was groping for a new policy regarding our southern neighbors. The 1980s were dominated by a focus on opposition to the Soviet Union and the war on drugs.

Since leaving Congress, I have been engaged in mutually beneficial commerce and trade with our neighbors to the South. In 2018, I led a private trade mission of 20 U.S. companies to Argentina to seek partners to increase commercial activity in Argentina. While there, I learned of the tunnel to be built between Argentina and Chile to move produce during the winter months to export throughout the Pacific.  This got me involved in persuading the Inter-American Development Bank to provide more grant money to get this corridor built. And, most recently, I have been working with a newly elected mayor in Ensenada, Baja, Mexico, to entice more private monies from California to develop tourism, tech, and clean industries in that region.

Covid will pass. We must make sure we use this time wisely to build relationships across our countries and recommit to being good neighbors. That means we must build our economies together.

Hon. Carla Zambelli Salgado (Congresswoman, National Congress of Brazil)

These days I try to build bridges of any kind between people, organizations and countries. On the Korean Peninsula for example, the urgent point is to reduce the possibility of nuclear war. In the Americas, the urgency is finding balance between countries and their economies. The challenge is to strengthen democracy and promote cooperation. We should not feel forced by the pandemic to reduce cooperation. We have ideological differences between our countries, but we have to be pragmatic and work toward peace. We have to be ready to act together in the post-COVID time that is coming. Addressing mass unemployment will require our focus. We need to find ways to bring medical professionals to our countries, find vaccines for our tropical ailments (dengue, malaria, yellow fever) move forward in all our areas of common interest, and support and expand our various infrastructures together. Parliamentarians can work together with the private sector and religious leaders. That’s what makes the tireless work of the Universal Peace Federation indispensable.

Hon. José Alberto Alfaro (former President, National Assembly of Costa Rica)

Many of us have stopped believing in our governments and have lost faith in the future. People see no way to get out, as they suffer the agony and tribulation of the current crisis. I also consider that human beings have a natural resilience and the guts to face adversity and overcome. People have an opportunity to develop their spirits at this time. We realize the weaknesses of our economies. COVID has had the destructive power of many atomic bombs together. But why are we fighting among ourselves? We need to find equality between the genders and races. Goodness needs to be placed as the supreme value among human beings. You have the power to elevate respect of human lives, the flora and fauna. You, my honorable, parliamentarians must stop discrimination among yourselves and use your resources to manufacture for the benefit others. You need to stop political control and emphasize care for the environment. Please create messages of reconciliation, peace and harmony. Nations will welcome you as agents of peace and harmony.

Addressing a question at the end of the session, Loretta Sanchez offered:

Many members of congress worldwide already understand that we need to know each other. When COVID is over, we should continue to meet face to face. For example, let’s bring people together who have experience in small businesses throughout the hemisphere. Our desires are the same. We want to have a nice family, a nice home. We have the opportunity to pass laws that will help humanity.

The September 11–13 International Leadership Conference was created to engage world leaders and citizens on issues ranging from rebuilding post Covid-19 economies to cooperative peacemaking. Under the rubric of UPF’s signature values of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values, its aim was to address solutions in commerce, health, environment, family, and social issues. “This year has seen dramatic disruptions not only due to the Covid-19 epidemic but in geopolitics, the world economy, the media, religion and all levels of society,” observes UPF Chair Dr. Thomas Walsh. “And yet, while there are reasons to despair, there is tremendous goodwill and desire to act on emerging opportunities and innovations that can relieve suffering around the world.”


To go back to the Executive summary, click here.

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