In the 21st Century Does Latin America Matter?

In the 21st Century Does Latin America Matter?

August 30, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


– We have a number of seats
over on this side over here. There’s a row of about five
or six seats on this end. There are some seats
down here in the front. And I see some seats scattered
through here as well. Why don’t you have a seat to, have a seat right here. I’ll give you a bit of an introduction and we’ll be ready to go. That’s good. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Jeff Brenzel. I’m the dean of undergraduate
admissions here at Yale, and also the master of
Timothy Dwight College, and a lecturer in the
philosophy department. And I’m the steward of the
Chubb Fellowship at Yale, and I wanna tell you just a
brief word about the fellowship. In 1949, a gift from
Yale alumnus Hendon Chubb launched a speaking fellowship at Yale to promote the notion that
service to the public good is the highest calling to
which any citizen can aspire. to be named a Chubb Fellow
is Yale’s most notable honor accorded to a visiting speaker. Chubb fellows have included
many heads of state and national leaders, Nobel
and Pulitzer Prize winners, and a wide range of other
highly accomplished individuals in political affairs, nonprofit
and for-profit governance, the literary and fine arts, whose experiences and
leadership have helped define the challenges of our times, and the ways that we should
seek to address them. Before I introduce this spring’s Chubb Fellowship recipient,
President Leonel Fernandez, I want to take a moment to recognize another prominent citizen
of the Dominican Republic who has traveled from
Washington to be with us, our special guest, the current ambassador of the Dominican Republic
to the United States Anibal de Cristo. (audience applauding) De Castro, Anibal de Castro. Before his government
service, Ambassador de Castro was a noted Dominican journalist, ultimately serving as
editor-in-chief of Ultima Hora, then as director of the newspaper. He also co-founded Editorial AA, publisher of the groundbreaking socio-political magazine Rumbo. From 2000 until his appointment in 2004 as ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the United Kingdom, he directed the newspaper Diario Libre. After serving for six years as ambassador from the Dominican Republic
to the United Kingdom, he presented his credentials
to President Barack Obama as the current Dominican ambassador to the United States in July of 2011. Welcome to Yale, Mr. Ambassador. I also wanted to welcome
the several members of the president’s staff
who are here with us for his Chubb Fellowship visit. including especially Yamile Eusebio, director of the president’s
Global Foundation for Democracy and Development in New York. And there’s Yamile here, there we go. (audience applauding) Finally, I want to
express the special thanks of both Yale and the
Chubb Fellowship Committee to the Dominican Students
Association of Yale, and in particular Patricio Brito, who has worked for over
two years to find a way to bring President
Fernandez to our campus. I might say that not
only did Patricio’s work result in a Chubb Fellowship recipient who is bringing us a remarkable
experience in public life, and an important message for our time regarding Latin America, but this afternoon in a meeting with the Dominican Students Association, and also the Latino student organization (speaks foreign language) President Fernandez
and officers and alumni of the association committed
to an important series of joint exchanges among
undergraduate and graduate students of Dominican heritage
in the United States, and the work especially in education to which the president’s
foundation is now committed. So now let me introduce briefly our distinguished Chubb
Fellowship visiting speaker President Leonel Fernandez, who this past summer stepped down from his third term of office as the elected president
of the Dominican Republic. He was born there in 1953, and came to New York City at the age of 8, attending school in this country from 1962 until his return to the
Dominican Republic in 1971. In 1978 he graduated from
the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo with honors in law. He worked as a teacher and a journalist and also practiced law
before entering politics as a follower and protege
of the noted Dominican thinker writer and
political leader Juan Bosch, founder of the Dominican Liberation Party. In 1996. as the presidential
candidate for the party, Mr. Fernandez survived the first round of a heavily contested election, and won the second round
by a narrow margin. Elected at age 42, he
is the youngest person ever to have served in the office. Mr. Fernandez vowed to
end political corruption, implemented closer oversight of the judiciary police and military, and promised greater scrutiny
of state-owned firms, and reforms to strengthen
manufacturing and agriculture. In 1999, he announced an initiative to broaden the country’s
economic base by attracting high technology firms to
the Dominican Republic. In 1998, he restored
diplomatic relations with Cuba. Constitutionally barred from
running for re-election, Mr. Fernandez left office in 2000. In 2004 however, he was returned
to office by a wide margin. and he was re-elected
to a third term in 2008. In 2011, Mr. Fernandez was pressured by some of his partisans to pursue the further amendment of
the country’s constitution to allow him to serve yet
another consecutive term. He opposed the change to the constitution, and stepped down from
office this past summer. Both in office and out,
president Fernandez has sustained a focus on economic growth
and financial stability as the keys to both political success and success of the nation. It is a fact that growth rates
in the Dominican Republic during his terms of office have been among the very
highest in Latin America. He has in addition paid
sustained attention to education, to food security, to
agricultural development, and to regional cooperation. As I have spent time with
him over the last two days, I have noticed something in particular, and in particular in his
speaking to students. Both last night at the
Chubb Fellowship dinner in Timothy Dwight College, and the students this afternoon from the latino organizations at Yale. One thing I’ve noted is he’s
extraordinarily generous with his time, and access to his person. I don’t know how many students
he greeted last night, but it felt like it was
virtually all of them. Beyond that, he is what I
speaking as a philosopher would call a pragmatist philosopher. And we think of pragmatism
generally speaking in the kind of common everyday
sense as getting things done. How do you get things done? You’re a pragmatist,
you’re not an ideologue. You work to to make the trains run. You get things done. However, that’s not what pragmatism is as a philosophical movement. Philosophically speaking,
pragmatism means that the doing is the learning. And I have heard him
say this several times over the past two days to students. That you must get beyond your classrooms, and you must actually be in contact with the work that you hope to engage in order to learn what it is
that you are going to be doing. A deeply pragmatic
perspective on education. However, I will say that
at the very same time, he has shown an extraordinary
intellectual curiosity, both in his description of how he got interested in
politics and growing up, the self-taught intellectual culture that he inhabited both in in New York and in the Dominican Republic, and evidenced in even such things as when he arrived in town yesterday and I thought we’d all go out to lunch, he said, “no, I’d actually
like to go to the bookstore.” And all of his staff know this, we talked about with
the students last night, we spent the next hour and a half, his first hour and a half in New Haven in the Yale bookstore. And I think that the take at the end was about 60 to 80 books
that he was taking back home to add to the 400,000 books that he has collected for
his Foundation Institute. And to and to accompany this
afternoon’s conversations with the students about
intellectual exchanges, where he shows the other side
of pragmatist philosophy, which is that the exchange,
the very exchange of ideas brings people together. Gives them a common experience
and a common vocabulary, and allows them to transmit
practices and ideas and relationships from
one context to the other. And it was in that
modality that he was hoping that this visit to Yale would
initiate exchanges between the Dominican and other
Latino students here and what’s happening in
the Dominican Republic. So I would like you to welcome this deeply and
philosophically pragmatic man President Leonel Fernandez. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Master Brenzel for your very kind and warm introduction, and thank you for all the generosity that you’ve shown in the last two days. He even took me to a Cuban restaurant the first day I was here. Thank you a lot. – [Jeff] It was good too. – It was very good. Thank you also for your presence, Ambassador Anibal de Castro, and to all of you for being here today. Over fifty years ago, in his commencement speech here at Yale, President John F. Kennedy began by stating that he had the best of two world’s. A Harvard education and a Yale degree. Well right from the beginning, I have to admit openly and honestly that I have not been so fortunate in experiencing the wonders of neither of those two academic worlds. Nonetheless, it is an honor and
a privilege to be here today at this prestigious
institution of higher learning, from where two prominent
Latinos were educated, becoming for many a source of inspiration. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and former Mexican
President Ernesto Zedillo. I am also very pleased to know there is a group of young and talented Dominican students here at Yale who have organized themselves since 2005 in a very creative manner within the Dominican Student Association called QuisqueYalies. We have Quisqueya, it is the
original name of our country. So they have mixed Quisqueya with Yale, calling themselves QuisqueYalies. Personally, I’m not only delighted to find a Dominican and Latino presence in this very vibrant
intellectual environment, but also thrilled to share
with you the news that even though a small nation, the Dominican Republic, my country, very recently gained a respected
status as a world power in a particular field of interest and great following here in the US. Can you get what? Baseball. (audience laughing) Just a couple of weeks ago,
the Dominican Republic, thank you! (audience laughing) (audience applauding) Just a couple of weeks ago,
the Dominican Republic, which can also be called baseball land, became the undefeated champion of the World Baseball Classic. And it is with that distinction
and sense of national pride that I express my gratitude
to Yale’s authorities, faculty members, and students for inviting me to address you on the relevance of Latin America and the Caribbean in the 21st century. As you all know, Latin
America and the Caribbean represent a region of 33
independent and sovereign states extending from the Rio Grande,
this is Texas and New Mexico, to the southern tip of South America, covering an area 2 1/2
times the size of the US. It accounts for nearly four%
of the Earth’s surface, and can be divided into
several sub regions, such as Mesoamerica, which includes Mexico and Central America, the Andeans and Southern Cone countries in South America and
the Caribbean islands. At this moment, nearly 600
million people live in the area. In 1900, the population was
made up of 60 million people. 50 years later in 1950, it
came up to 150 million people, which at that time equals the population of the United States. Since then, up till now 60
years later, it has quadrupled, and is almost a double
of current US population. About 1/3 or 30% of Latin
America’s population is under 15 years of age, so it is a very young population. Great ethnic and demographic diversity characterizes the region. The people of Latin American represent a mixture of various racial groups comprised of indigenous
people, white Europeans, black Africans, Asians, and Arabs. Mexico, Central America,
and the Andean regions in South America have the
largest indigenous population, which makes up a larger part of the people living in Bolivia, Ecuador,
Peru, and Guatemala. Various languages are spoken. Spanish, Portuguese,
French, English, Dutch, and there were 30
different indigenous ones including Quechua and Aymara. Latin America has the largest reserves of arable land in the world. It produces oil, metal, foodstuff. It has an impressive rich biodiversity, and astonishing natural environments. The region is home to
the Amazon rainforest, the Galapagos Islands in
Ecuador, and the Andean glaciers. It accounts for 23% of
the world’s forests, and 31% of its freshwater resources. It also houses approximately
70% of the world’s species, and almost 20% of its ecoregions. Brazil, the world’s fifth largest country in area and population, has
more environmental capital and more fresh water than
any country in the world. The region has a combined GDP of six 6.7 trillion US dollars,
a purchasing power parity. Three of its major economies,
Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina are active members of the exclusive world economic elite G20 group. According to a report
and economics and trade by the Economic Commission for Latin America and
the Caribbean, ECLAC, better known in Spanish as CEPAL, in 2012, the region is predicted to grow at 3.1% this last year, which is higher than the 2.2%
of world economic growth. More precisely, the ECLAC
report states that, and I quote, the region’s economic
reforms of past decades, its fiscal and macroeconomic prudence, and it’s sound financial supervision, together with ever closer
commercial ties with China and other emerging economies, have allowed it not only
to successfully navigate through the worst international
crisis of the past 80 years, but also to enter the new decade with a promising outlook for growth and advances in quality of life. And for the first time in its history, the region achieved during the past decade a combination of high-growth,
macroeconomic stability, poverty reduction, and improvement
in income distribution. And with regards to
global economic recovery, the region is today firmly
part of the solution. It was not part of the original problem. End the quote. For this year 2013, growth
projection will heavily depend on the performance of the global economy. At this moment, the economic situation in the European Union is still gloomy. Recession persists in some of the larger economies in the region, and this will surely have an impact on the South American countries that have Europe as its
major trading partner. Likewise, some of the emerging
economies like the BRICS which includes Brazil, Russia, China, India, and now South Africa, have decelerated their growth. And all of this will also
influence on the short term Latin American and Caribbean
economic performance. US economy, regardless of
being in a better shape than the European Union, is still fragile. It has not fully recovered from the global economic meltdown. This has provoked a decrease of US trade and investments in the region. Imports have dropped from
51% in 2000 to 33% in 2009, and exports fell from 60% to
39% during the same period. In past decades, President
Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress, President Bush Sr.’s
Initiative for the Americas, and President Clinton’s call
for a Summit of the Americas, were all visionary and strategic proposals designed to enhance trade and
cooperation in the region. None of those exists today. Hence there is a growing perception that the US lacks a strategic
vision towards the region. In order to reverse that, the US will need a renewed set of policies to address the remaining priorities of its Latin American
and Caribbean agenda, which includes issues of
security, crime violence, repatriation of criminals,
illegal drug trafficking, illegal weapons trade,
human rights protection, labor rights, climate change,
remittances, and migration. Yet the question, does Latin America and the Caribbean really
matter, still looms out there. And in response, we have to say that the region is a place
of enormous contrasts. It is not wealthy enough to
become a state-of-the-art center for international financial transactions. It is not poor enough to
provoke worldwide pity. It is not dangerous enough
to generate global fear. So what is the importance
of Latin America, and where does its major contribution lie? For a long time it has been considered that it is in the realm of culture where Latin America and the
Caribbean have made their mark and built their brand and
reputation and a global scale. It has been through
literature, music, dance, film painting, and the arts in general where Latin American
soul has been discovered. Who has not been touched
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (speaks foreign language)
100 Years of Solitude, Mario Vargas Llosa’s
(speaks foreign language) about the Dominican Republic’s
dictatorship Trujillo, The Feast of the Goat, or the poems by the Chilean
Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda? (speaking foreign language) What about admiring the widely
recognized artistic movements like muralism, (speaks foreign language) which began in Mexico, represented by such outstanding
figures as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros,
Jose Clemente Orozco? Or the paintings of Frida Kahlo, one of the most distinguished Latin American artists of all times, who had a style that combined realism, symbolism, and surrealism? Who has not jumped from his or her seat at the south of merengue, salsa, bachata, vallenato, or reggaeton? Who has not laughed over the
years with Cantinflas movies, or sensed the emotions
of Colombian soap operas like (speaks foreign language) Ugly Betty? In addition to this notorious cultural presence in the world, for the last three decades, given the enormous demographic, economic, social, and political transformations that have been taking place in the region, Latin America and the
Caribbean has emerged as a key player in global affairs, one that needs to be watched closely. Due to the implementation
of sound social policies, life expectancy has increased
from 71 years of age in 2000 to 74 years of age now in 2012. Child mortality has
decreased significantly in the last 10 years. Unemployment has dropped from
9% in 2005 to 6.4% in 2012. Poverty and extreme poverty
have fallen as well, from 48% in 1990 to 28.8% in 2012. All this has resulted in an increase of the Human Development Index, and expansion of a new more sophisticated global oriented middle class in the different countries in the region. Through great efforts
and innovative programs, illiteracy has been seriously addressed. For the first time in
the region’s history, access to education has broadened, making it available to almost everyone regardless of distance
and social conditions. Teacher training programs and salary increases
have been materialized. New technologies have been
introduced at all academic levels rising the efficiency, content,
and quality of education even though there is still
much to be done in that field. In terms of infrastructure development, the changes in nearly every
country in Latin America and the Caribbean have been
astounding and breathtaking. The skylines in major
cities have been replaced with new buildings constructed
with steel and glass, those resembling the modern
view of developed countries. That can be fully appreciated
in cities like Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Panama City,
Bogota, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, and of course Santo Domingo. Major improvements have been achieved in paving roads, providing fresh water, building homes for the
poor and middle class, erecting schools and hospitals,
constructing subway systems, and promoting access to new information and communications technologies. Internet in Latin
America and the Caribbean is in continuous growth. At this moment, there are
more than 255 million users, which is nearly 1/2 the
region’s population. as the World Bank established
in a recent report, the region also leads
in global mobile growth, with almost 660 million
mobile telephones in use. That represents a density
of 107 cellular devices for every 100 residents. That means there are
more phones than people in Latin America today. Nowadays, Latin America
and the Caribbean nations have become urban, modern societies. More than 81% of the
population lives in cities, which was exactly the
opposite 50 years ago. And many economic
activities have also shifted into a more service-oriented economy. So there is an undeniable
sense of progress, social change, and modernization taking place around the
region, and the only question or sense of uncertainty
relating to its future is about its long-term sustainability. In order to become
sustainable and competitive in the 21st century, the Latin American and
Caribbean nations must be able to move forward with an agenda to improve the quality of education, promote science and
technology, enhance innovation, diversify their economies,
increase productivity, and integrate within the
global chain of production. Moving now towards a more
sensitive area if I may, I know that due to President
Hugo Chavez’s recent passing, and upcoming presidential election scheduled for next Sunday in Venezuela, there is some concern
especially here in the US about the strength and viability
of democracy in the region, and about the political meaning and role of what has been identified as
the new Latin American left. One must remember that
from some 200 years ago, since achieving their independence, the Latin American and Caribbean nations always aspired to install democracy within their respective societies. But for different historical reasons, with only very few exceptions, these aspirations were met fulfilled during the 19th for the first
1/2 of the 20th century. It was only after the end
of the Second World War that a swing of the pendulum
in favor of democracy began to take place in countries like Guatemala and Venezuela. However, soon this swing began to reverse. In Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz nationalized the United Fruit Company
an American corporation, and soon after, the US
government intervened, toppling Arbenz on the grounds
of being pro-communist. The Cold War influence and
blurring the differences among US government officials between nationalistic
policies and communism. The Truman Doctrine or
Policy of Containment clouded the vision of
various US administrations in dealing with the issue of nationalism and not making the mistake of
confusing it with communism. Even Fidel Castro in 1952 was running to become a member
of the Chamber of Deputies, representing the province of Havana when Fulgencio Batista led the coup that derailed Cuba from
its democratic path. During its first stage after
1959, the Cuban Revolution was not a socialist revolution,
but a Nationalist one. It appeals not to Karl Marx
or to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, but more to Jose Marti, Antonio
Maceo, and Maximo Gomez. But Castro had nationalized,
as Arbenz did before him, American corporate interests. And as a reaction to that,
the Invasion of Pigs, which was oriented towards
overthrowing his regime, failed. It was only after that episode in 1961 that the Cuban Revolution aligned itself with the Soviet Union, thus becoming a major player
in the Cold War drama. My own country the Dominican Republic is a clear historical example of confusion created among US policymakers between nationalism and communism when President Johnson
ordered a military occupation of the small island nation to prevent it from becoming a second Cuba. What really was at stake
in the Dominican Republic in 1965 had nothing to do with a country becoming a second Cuba, it was about the return to democracy and constitutional order, and the reposition of Juan
Bosch to the presidency, who had been overthrown by a
military coup d’etat in 1963, after winning in a landslide the first democratic
elections that took place in the country after the fall
of the Trujillo dictatorship. But exactly the opposite
occurred in neighboring Haiti, where President Clinton,
authorized by UN Council resolution ordered the deployment of US troops to remove the military regime installed in 1991 by a coup d’etat and restore the elected
president Jean-Bertrand Aristide back into office to end his term. What made the difference in terms of decision making in these similar cases between the Dominican Republic and Haiti was one main and single factor. The Cold War, which divided the world in two different lines of
thought and political behavior. With the end of that historical period, the Red Scare disappeared, and with it the fear
that a communist takeover might deviate any
democratic political process It has been only during
the last three decades that democracy has been fully established in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to recent polls taken by a highly recognized
firm Latinobarometro, at this moment there is a high
appreciation in the region of what democracy has
brought to different nations in terms of respect for human rights, free and fair elections,
freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary, the respect for the rule of law, and government accountability. With the flourishing of
democracy in the region, organizations that were
originally involved in armed revolutionary struggle have put out their arms
and integrated themselves within the democratic process to participate through
the electoral system as a way of having access to power. This is the case, just to
mention a few examples, of the (speaks foreign
language) in El Salvador, (speaks foreign language) in Nicaragua, (speaks foreign language) in Uruguay, all of which after many years of political arms confrontation, have won national elections
in a fairly manner and now rule their countries
through Democratic means. During the Cold War,
the left-wing movement in Latin America or any
other part of the world was engaged in a process of bringing down capitalism as a system. This is not the case
in Latin America today. No elected government in the region is evenly remotely considering overturning the capitalist system. Nowadays, left-wing
politics in Latin America is more concerned with
challenging what is called the orthodox free-market philosophy, identified as the Washington Consensus, and the flaws and disparities
emerging from globalization. The Washington Consensus
was essentially a response to the macroeconomic crisis that affected Latin America and the
Caribbean in the 80s. It focused mainly on market stabilization, trade, and privatization,
and ignored the social issues of poverty, unemployment,
and social inequality. This lack of human or social element, labeled as a market-centered
neoliberal approach, generated the conditions
for its rejection in different parts of the region, creating a breeding ground for the return of state-centric policies
in Latin America. With different characteristics,
national conditions, international styles, and
personal leadership styles, it is this view of economic
and social development, centered under state
instead of the market, which has been considered
as a swing to the left in Latin America and the Caribbean. Other elements that have also
contributed to these images of Latin America leading towards the left have been the fact that
some elected heads of state come from the indigenous
movement, the labor unions, the progressive military,
or feminist groups. Such as Evo Morales, Luiz
Inacio da Silva Lula, Dilma Rousseff, and Cristina
Fernandez de Kirchner. Therefore at this pivotal moment, more than the left as a dominant force, it is fair to indicate that two opposing economic, political, and social views pervade Latin America in the Caribbean. Neoliberalism and Neopopulism. The future of democracy in the region will depend upon our ability to overcome these two distinct and
contrasting paradigms. Instead of being too much
focused on the left or the right what the region needs
is a new set of policies that can balance the role of
state with that of the market. What is also needed at this
moment in Latin America and the Caribbean is the capacity
to integrate market forces with social policies upheld by a culture of solidarity, corporation, and
partnership for development. At the beginning of this second
decade of the 21st century, what Latin America needs is
more and better democracy, more sustainable economic growth, preservation of the environment
and natural resources, more jobs, better quality
education and health care, and widespread prosperity
and opportunity for all. If you allow me, I would like to conclude by briefly referring to the
Latino community in the US. And as indicated by the Census Bureau, as of 2012 there are 52 million Latinos living in this great nation, making it the largest ethnic or race minority at this moment. They constitute 16.7% of
the US total population, and the projections are that by 2050 will account for 132 million inhabitants representing 30% of US total population. Latinos will continue
entering the workforce in growing numbers. In 2011, it reached 15% of
the total US labor force, and by 2050 it is expected
to be at the level of 24%. In the last 15 years, there
has been a 53% increase of the total number of Latinos
serving in elected office, which demonstrates their growing political influence at the government level. Many Latinos have distinguished themselves in the arts, academia, business, politics, and diverse professional activities. Names such as Jennifer
Lopez, better known as JLo, Marc Anthony, Carlos
Santana, Gloria Estefan, Salma Hayek, Zoe Saldana, A-Rod, his real name is Alex Rodriguez, but he changed it for A-Rod, and Junot Diaz, just to name a few, are very familiar and quite
popular around the nation, which makes us all Latin
Americans very proud of them. The Latino community represents
a great force in the US, as can be proven with
the fact that they have a purchasing power of 1.5
trillion dollars a year within the US market, but also through the results of the last presidential elections, in which it became
decisive in the outcome. Latinos made their mark an election day as they voted for President
Barack Obama’s reelection over Republican candidate
Mitt Romney 71% to 27%. And they were instrumental in
helping President Obama win in two of the key battleground states Nevada 70% to 25% and Colorado 75% to 23%. In Spanish we say Obama
(speaks foreign language). (audience laughing) Taking into account the electoral results, Republican strategy and CNN
contributor Ana Navarro, who was the National Latino co-chair of McCain’s presidential
campaign stated, quote, “if we don’t do better with Hispanics, “we’ll be out of the White House forever.” Noting the importance of Latinos, President Obama said, quote, “our country was built on
and continues to thrive “on its diversity, and there is no doubt “that the future of the United
States is inextricably linked “to the future of the Hispanic community.” Beyond question, Latin
America’s influence has expanded at such length around the globe that it has recently reached
the unreachable dream, a Latin American Pope, in Papa Francisco sitting on the chair of Saint Peter in the heart of the Vatican. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) – [Jeff] If you’d like to ask a question, we’ve got some students with microphones. Just raise your hand, the
president will call on you, and wait for a microphone to get to you. (mumbles) It’s an unusually shy
(Leonel laughing) audience. – Either everybody was convinced
or I bored everybody here. (both laughing) – [Man] Mr. President, I have a question that is related to last night’s talk, which was aimed at more
the undergraduate students in Timothy Dwight. You talked about your college experience in Dominican Republic, and it was more or less based
on a political affiliation. Can you elaborate on how that plays out for 18 or 20 year old, versus the way the average Yalie or the average America goes to college? I was here the 70s, and it
was more like that then here, but now it doesn’t seem to be particularly tied to your political beliefs, your road through college,
it’s not that big a deal. But obviously it is, it was in your day in the Dominican Republic. – Well there is a conventional wisdom that you tend to learn only
through academic institutions, and even though you get an opportunity to really grow intellectually
and professionally through academic institutions, there are other ways of learning too beyond academic institutions. And it was the case in
the Dominican Republic when I returned at the end
of the 60s beginning the 70s, and it had to do with national conditions and what was taking
place around the world. The people of my generation
became very interested, for example, in what
was going on in Vietnam, US policy towards Latin
America and the Caribbean, the consequences of the
US military occupation in the Dominican Republic in ’65. So there was a generation that
was intellectually curious and that needed to participate
actively in politics in order to contribute to a
social change in our country. So that created an
intellectual environment even at the neighborhood level where college students were self-taught. They were reading things that
were not assigned in school, but it’s just because
they were were interested and they thought this
would be intellectual tools for opening up their
minds and understanding what was going on in the world. And so I when I returned
to the Dominican Republic, I was caught up within that political and environment situation, and I think it somehow influenced
me in my world outlook. Now of course, there’s another factor. I mentioned Juan Bosch,
a former president, and the most prolific and prestigious Dominican intellectual of all times. He returned from exile
at the beginning of 1970 and began having daily lectures by radio, a little bit like FDR here
during the Great Depression. But he was a great
lecturer a great thinker, and was also very influential
in shaping my generation. So in him we found a mentor. First very remote I mean he was already a well-known Latin American intellectual so it was very difficult
to have access to him, but later on we did, and we established a personal relationship with him. And we learned reading
his books and we learned listening to his lectures and
through his leadership styles. So there was also a
mentoring from a great figure that gave us a sense of orientation, because we were reading many things, but they didn’t have like
a goal or an objective. Now when Juan Bosch came
and he made us become aware of the wealth of our national culture or our national history and the need to move forward
and establish democracy, well then that gave us a sense of orientation,
a sense of direction. And that’s how I really got involved, participating through politics
and learning through politics a lot of different ideas
and different things. Because of perhaps the
idea that one has is being involved in politics
is only a struggle for power. It is not true. Through politics you develop many skills that otherwise you wouldn’t have it. Public speaking skills,
organizational skills, influencing people, mobilizing people. You only learn that
because you participate, and through participation
there’s a learning curve that will transform you as an individual to become really influential
within your society, within your neighborhood,
within your peers. And I think this is the experience that I had in the Dominican Republic. Another thing one learns is everybody has a mentor
at some point in life, and later on you become
a mentor to someone else. So there’s like a chain of events there. – [Jeff] I’d like to exercise the chair’s privilege to ask one question. – Yes. (laughs) – Which is you presented
a compelling I thought array of factors on
which the region has made consistent and considerable progress over the past two decades. Democratization, economic growth, even relative to other parts of the world, reduction of poverty,
diversification of economies, even the growth of the Latino population of the United States and the
implications that that has for perhaps a greater region here. What’s your center of anxiety? What do you see as perhaps
the single greatest challenge, or the thing that you
would worry about most that could stop or reverse
some of that progress? – This is interesting because
we have been celebrating since 2008 in Latin
America and the Caribbean the 200th anniversary of independence. And as I said, right from its beginnings, there was an aspiration in in the region to install democracy and
promote economic growth and create opportunities. It never really happened, with the exceptions of a few countries. So what really has taken place
in the last 30 plus years to generate this political, economic, and social transformation
in Latin America? You’ll be a mistake to look at it only from a Latin American perspective. I think it has to do with everything that has been taking place in the world. The democratization process didn’t even begin in Latin America. It began in in southern
Europe at the end of the 70s. It came with the collapse of
the Salazar regime in Portugal, with the end of Francisco
Franco’s regime in Spain, or the military in Greece. Many Latin American
politicians and intellectuals were living in Europe at that time that were influenced by these events, and so when they came back
to their respective countries they changed their political strategy, which at that time was confronting dictatorship with socialism. And then they figured out
that it was more difficult to confront authoritarian regimes presenting an alternative to the system. And instead they said, instead of of dictatorship versus socialism, or as they framed it at the
time, fascism versus socialism, it was more dictatorship versus democracy. So there was a there was
a change in the mindset in Latin American
intellectuals and politicians for the first time accepting
democracy in modern times. Because democracy was
disdained at some point because every time there was
an attempt to install democracy there would be a military coup d’etat, And perhaps US government officials aligned themselves with the new dictators. There was a lot of frustration with democracy in Latin America, and some would say bourgeois democracy, or you know (speaks foreign language) that mentioned representative system. But after that, after what
happened in southern Europe, there was a new mindset. With that, I think there
are two other factors that play an important
influence in this transformation from dictatorship to democracy. There’s a man that I think has
not been given enough credit for everything he did in
allowing this transition to democracy in Latin America, and that is President Jimmy Carter. With his human rights policy, and pressing for free and fair elections at the end of the 70s, Jimmy Carter really made
an important contribution to political change in Latin America. The other have to do with
social democracy in Europe. They have an organization
called socialist international, which is not Marxist, is
more democratic oriented, and they had an opening for Latin America, and then traditional populist
Latin American parties became part of this organization. And so coming from Europe
and coming from the US, there was a lot of pressure to organize democratic elections,
free and fair elections. And beginning in the
Dominican Republic in 1978, there has been a third
wave of democratization after the Second World War, and for the first time, there has been no reverse in this situation. So in Latin America we all think that democracy has come to stay, and that we are more now
consolidating democracy, consolidating democracy and working on how government can be more efficient, how can it be more transparent, how can it be more accountable, how can it deliver what
the people is expecting from a government than ever before, this never took place before. So having resolved the
political question of stability, of how do you have access to power, you can even consider what I
said in my previous remarks. Organizations like
(speaks foreign language) which came to power in 1979
through an armed struggle, lost elections 10 years later, and came back to power again
through electoral means. So everybody has accepted
the rules of the game that it is through free and fair elections that you have access to power. Now for the population, that is a great
achievement, but not enough, because at the end of the game, at the end of what you
are making as a proposal, what is the economic and
social evolution of society? And there have been many reforms. The Washington Consensus
I think has a merit in that it corrected some of the problems of the previous economic
model which is more Keynesian. In the sense that it emphasized
macroeconomic stability, it emphasized fiscal deficits correction, combating hyperinflation. So all these things were
good, but still not enough, because they didn’t have an impact in the well-being of the population. So what has been questioned
on the Washington Consensus, it is that it’s too technocratic, and it forgot what
policymaking is all about is having people as as
the targeted element to which you have to influence. So going beyond the Washington Consensus, the new governments in Latin America have installed social policies. The whole idea that if the economy grows it will trickle down and have an impact is being rejected in Latin America, and you have to combine
solid macroeconomic policies, economic growth, with
active social policies aimed at improving the quality of people. This combination has made the
difference in Latin America. With economic growth, governments
now have had resources to invest in infrastructure development, which means better schools,
better hospitals, better roads. This transformation has
been because of that. Now looking forward, once again,
the region is not isolated. It is part of what is taking
place on a global scale. Much of the success in the last decade has been that southern countries, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina, have had close trade links with China. China has made an an inroad within Latin America and the Caribbean. And I will say South
America at this moment is more connected with China
and Asia than ever before. Now Mexico, Central
America, and the Caribbean are more integrated with the US economy. The Dominican Republic is
more integrated with the US, and of course that has
to do with geography. It’s the geographical proximity
that we have with the US. It also has to do with the
presence of a population here. Central America, the Caribbean islands have a Latino diaspora
that connects with the US and their respective countries
is less South America, which always had more close relationship with the European
countries than with the US. So if there is a deceleration
of economic growth, in China, for example, or in Asia, these countries will be hurt because their exports
have been going to China. If China demands less copper and less zinc and less foodstuff, so their economies will drop. And we already can see that. China was growing 12% a year. This past year decelerated to 7%, and now the Brazilian economy
has only grown 1.5% in 2012. So we depend on that. The future of Latin
America then first of all will depend on how the
global economy performs. If the US economy picks up again, and you can have 2.53% growth, that will have a tremendous
impact in Latin America, especially in Mexico. If the US economy starts booming up again, it will pick up on Mexico
that is poised to be also a country with a great potential for economic growth and
sustainability in the years to come. If Europe can get out of
its current recession, it will also have an impact in Latin America and the Caribbean. Now on the domestic side, we have had a decade of great success, but also we have some challenges. The question of sustainability. What is, the question of sustainability for Latin American and Caribbean economy has to do with the fact that we have been exporting raw materials. We have been exporting natural resources with no productive transformation. So the real thing now is how can we add value to
our products and services? How can we be part of a
global chain of production? And that can only be
done through knowledge. So the quality of education is key. Improving our universities. We are very preoccupied with, with the standard of our universities in Latin America in the Caribbean. When you see university rankings,
world university rankings, the first one that appears in the ranking from Latin America and the Caribbean is (speaks foreign language) and it figures out number 200, number 200. And then after that Sao Paulo is there, (speaks foreign language) but all after the 200. So we’re not competing internationally in terms of producing knowledge and generating new
patents to be registered, intellectual property
rights, we’re lacking there. So Latin America needs a policy for science, technology, and innovation. We need to protect our
indigenous knowledge with new intellectual property rights. This is the way to move forward, and for that we need
public/private partnerships. In order to invest in innovation
and technology and science we need to create a culture of science. In Latin America over the years we have been promoting soft science. Everybody studies law or studies marketing or studies management, soft science. Now we need engineers, we need scientists that can put all their knowledge in place and really make this
transformative production of our raw materials into
new goods and services. If we are able to improve
the quality of education, to innovate, to integrate
within the global economy, then I think Latin America will become a major key player in global affairs. – [Man] You ended your speech speaking about Latinos in America. Which is a growing population, huge. And you talked a little
bit about the 16.7% of the population is Latino here. Fortune 500 company CEOs is only 1.7%. That’s six CEOs for the Fortune 500. What steps outside of
education and mentorship because there’s very few mentors because not a lot of people
that are in that position. But what other steps can
we take to bridge that gap? – I think that is the main
road ahead is education. It has to do with, with innovation, with vision forward, and creating some sort of Latino organizations that already exists, and supporting each other and
coming out with new ventures, coming out with new fresh ideas that will have an impact in the US. So but the key to everything
has to do with education. And perhaps we’re not there as CEOs in those Fortune 500 companies because there is still not some gap in terms of knowledge
between the Latino community and other communities here in the US. I will always emphasize
the role of education to move up the ladder. You can see that, for example, you have Sonia Sotomayor coming
out a graduate from Yale, but coming from Yale, she
makes it to the Supreme Court. You see? So it’s education at the end. At the bottom of everything is education. – [Man] Mr. President, Good afternoon, Mr. President. Talking about the future of Latin America, how do you foresee the strengthening of regional groups to participate as a block in the global economy? The GDP of El Salvador is
not the same as Argentina, or the GDP of Jamaica is
not the same as Brazil. And those, our economies are growing because of a demand of
resources from China, the resources that we held in our lands. Arable land, potable
water, precious metals, non-precious metals, are going
to be demanded in the future from Europe, from the United States, and other parts of the world. So wouldn’t the Latin America benefit from a cohesive union,
a group such as UNASUR, but at much larger scale? Don’t you see, when you foresee that regional grouping Latin American countries will benefit the region as a whole? Thank you. – Yeah, I totally agree there
is an integration process taking place in Latin
America at different levels. It has always existed
at sub-regional levels. The Caribbean countries, for
example, are within CARICOM. If you add Dominican
Republic, Haiti, and Cuba, it’s called CARIFORUM, and they use it as a platform to negotiate with the European Union. Then you have in Central America SICA, (speaks foreign language)
is also integration. If you add Mexico to Central America, it’s called Mesoamerica,
and they also negotiate. And in South America you
have the Andean Pact, (speaks foreign language) and then you have Mercosur in the south, and now they have created UNASUR. The problem is that we
have too many organizations that are overlapping
each one with the other. Politically we have created something new that I hope it can work, it’s called CELAC (speaks foreign language) And CELAC is supposed to
be one voice representing politically political dialogue Latin America with the rest of the world. What’s lacking is that it’s
not a formalized institution. The chair changes every year
from one country to the other. So I think perhaps we
have to work more on that to have a one voice
representative of Latin America. I’ll give you an example. We have three countries
as I mentioned before, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, that are members of the G20 group. How proud are we as Latin Americans to have three countries
there in that elite club? Nevertheless when they
go to those meetings, they go with their own agenda, they don’t represent Latin
America and the Caribbean. We hope that within
CELAC we can get together and design a policy that will represent the interests of all Latin America. That doesn’t exist until now. So there is, I see the
idea of integrating, the idea of cooperation,
south-south cooperation, creating new institutions, for example financial institutions that will finance
projects in Latin America with I would say conditions that are not within the commercial banks. These kinds of things are interesting also in the energy sector for example. You can have it in educational exchange within Latin American countries. So these are all new initiatives that we did not have before. The idea of cooperation,
the idea of solidarity, the idea of coming together, is something also new in the region that is enhancing our possibilities of increasing our economic
growth and social well-being. – [Woman] (speaks foreign
language) It is a real honor to have you here at Yale,
so thank you for being here, and thanks for all the Dominicans who are here visiting as well. I would like to invite you to discuss a little bit more the conflict you noted between neoliberalism and neopopulism. I’m particularly
interested in how you view this translating into the
global trade dynamics, and what types of trade agreements Latin American and Caribbean countries, and specifically Dominican Republic, if you wish to comment on that, would view as advantageous. For example, one might
associate neoliberalism with the incredible rise in
bilateral investment treaties that was on the 90s and early 2000, the multilateral trade agreement such as DR-CAFTA and NAFTA,
and now in more recent years with one might say the
neopopulism rise in Latin America, we see at least two if not
three Latin American countries rejecting and challenging ICSID, the world bank dispute
resolution framework for investment state treaty disputes. And we see South Africa, which obviously not part of
the region but a notable actor who as I understand it
has called for an end to entering into bilateral
investment treaties. So how does this all translate into, what types of agreements
are Latin American countries and Caribbean countries in particular rethinking as advantageous
to its own interest, and how do you equate that with this neopopulism neoliberalism
divide that you’ve noted? – I think there’s a combination
of different elements here. It has to do with political ideology, it has to do with economic interests, and also with a particular
moment in history, in current contemporary history. For example, looking from the trade side, we had in Latin America and the Caribbean, more specifically, what was called the Caribbean
Basin Initiative or CBI. With CBI, at all the Caribbean
countries were allowed to export their goods and services into the US market on a
duty-free basis unilaterally, with the exception of Nicaragua and Cuba, excluded for ideological
political reasons at the time. But the thing is that
there was an incentive to export within the
largest market in the world, which is the US market, unilaterally. This was done to help
the Caribbean countries overcome their internal problems, and somehow to stop
massive illegal migration coming from the Caribbean into the US. This was the logic of all this. Now after the end of the Cold War, a unilateral free trade access into the US market
coming from the Caribbean becomes a reciprocal free trade treaty between the Caribbean
and the United States. And this creates a
problem in the sense that we’re dealing with an economy of scale, which would be the US economy, with very small, poverty-ridden
economies in the Caribbean. And this sense of a symmetry or disparity, how can it be tackled? And of course there is no answer to that, and I’ll just give you an example. I think I talked to you
with our students yesterday about Haiti, for you to understand. Haitian workers produce rice
in the Dominican Republic. But they don’t do it in Haiti, why not? Because Haiti imports all
its rice from Arkansas, which is subsidized by
the local government, the production and the export. So it’s cheaper for Haiti to import rice, subsidized rice from Arkansas than to produce that themselves. So in that case, it is
very difficult to have really real free trade
when there is a disparity or asymmetry between two
different scale of economies. This is a problem for the future. Because even though it has
been considered gradually that the economy will open gradually to the import of us goods and services, also Europe because we have signed free trade agreements with Europe, it will take 20, 25 years they say to have fully opened the markets to the imports of goods and services. But even then, in 25 years from now, many of our productive
sectors will be harmed by the opening up of this market. So this is something that’s still pending that we have to work on and see exactly how we can benefit our
population back in the Caribbean. Finally on neoliberalism and neopopulism. I think at the center stage of political philosophical
debate worldwide is the relationship
between state and market. It is a relationship between a conservative movement which thinks that markets should by themselves determine the outcome and performance of societies in every aspect, that markets are self-regulating,
even though what happened with the recent global financial crisis proves that markets are
not self-regulating. And those that have gone
to the other extreme to think that the states
should play the pivotal role in any decision-making that is required by the economic sector of by society. We call those that have
made the faith in the market as the only solution to every problem the neoliberal proposal, and the other which has a state-centric solution to everything is a neopopulist. The idea is that both are needed, you need a market to operate, but you also need a strong
government to intervene on occasional, on specific occasions in order to guarantee
some sort of equilibrium, social equilibrium within society that you do through your tax system. So the combination of state and market will give us a new paradigm going beyond neoliberalism
and neopopulism. There are positive things in both. I mean you cannot condemn and reject everything that comes from a liberal view or conservative view. Clinton here in the US took some ideas from the Reagan movement. Tony Blair in the UK took some
ideas from Margaret Thatcher. He came into the center. If you are able to
balance the relationship between state and market, you
might become more effective and really satisfy people’s needs in terms of opportunities
and growth and etc. So this is what I think. It’s not only Latin
America, it’s worldwide, this debate about the role
of the state in the market. – [Jeff] I think we’re gonna
have time for one more question so let’s make it a really terrific one. (laughing) – I think there’s a question over here. – [Jeff] Be confident. – There’s a question over here. – [Man] Mr. President? – Yes? – [Man] I have a two-part question. The first is I’m wondering
whether you can comment on the drug problem in Latin America, and any solutions you might (mumbling). The second part is, do
you like Bachata music? (audience laughing) – Alright. I’ll respond the last one which is easier. Of course I do. Bachata. On the first one, I
think is one of the most challenging problems were having in Latin America and
the Caribbean right now, the drug trafficking issue, and violence related to drug trafficking. And the only way I think
this can be addressed is through a partnership between the US and our
countries back home. There has been at some
points a marked interest in building up in this partnership. But nevertheless, I think
much more can be done. Over more than 20 years
of addressing this issue with a certain perspective,
it has not worked out. I think a new set of fresh
ideas must be put in place. There is a need to enhance the dialogue between Latin America and the US on how to tackle this problem. Now yesterday in the press I read something that really concerned me that is taking place here in the US. Because from Latin America
we have the supply side, in the US we have the
demand side of this market. Yesterday in USA Today, I read that a group of young businessmen were creating a corporation
equity investment to buy off some companies and from there purchase
marijuana in the US, which will be legalized in many states. So when you think that
there is a group already of people thinking here and doing business and making profit out
of selling marijuana, it might indicate that there is a trend to the legalization of drugs for business purposes and profit making, which I think would be
a wrong thing to do. I think drugs is not alcohol. We all know that drugs has an impact on people’s brains and people’s behavior. It also has a health
issue, healthcare issue. It’s not only the business side or the criminal side of it. It has to do with people’s
behavior, people’s attitudes, people’s way of relating
to each other in society. So it’s still a problem. It has not been addressed effectively. When you look at the way the tourist issue is being dealt with, and you look at the way the
drug lords are being treated there is a difference. I think we have to look at the drug lords and the tourists the same way because they represent both
a threat to the well-being and stability of our societies, and I don’t think that they are looking at the
problem the same way. – [Woman] Okay, so Mr. President, so a lot of your focus is on education. And relating to a question
that was asked earlier, about the Fortune 500 and the
representation of Latinos. Latinos aren’t represented in a majority of the
high-profile positions, and as you said, this
relates to education. Latinos here in the United States have the highest dropout rate
of any ethnic or racial group. And so a lot of that, there are many factors going into that. Economics, social class. But part of it does have to do with the discrepancy between education
here in the United States and in the home countries. So since the US population of Latinos is going to increase
so much in the future, this is obviously of importance to both the US and to Latin America. So in what ways do you think Latin America can
improve on its education? – What you see now, Latinos within the US, making progress in some sense, no? Even though still when you
look at the statistics, you’re below some other groups. It has to do with the way a wave of migration
came into this country. The group that has
traditionally migrated are those that are underclass in Latin
America and the Caribbean. Those are the poor who
have migrated into the US. So it has taken them a
while to get integrated within a modern society as the US society. You have to learn a new language, you have to learn a new culture, you have to be part of the system, in order to really participate. So it has taken I would say, 30, 40 years for our people to be part
of the American Dream, to be part of the American system. Now a second and third
generation has born in the US. I think it’s your case. And look what is happening. Now we have Dominicans at Yale University. It is, you would have
never thought about having Latinos or Dominicans at Yale
University 20, 25 years ago. It was impossible. Now you’re here, Master Brenzel, and if the
years, in the years to come, these Dominicans most likely will be deans and masters here at Yale University because of your, I would
say, your innovative spirit, and your capacity to work. So looking into the future,
we’ll have a new generation of American-born Latinos, which will have a great command
of the English language, will be bi-cultural from the beginning, and will have more
opportunities and access in this society to move up the ladder. So the future of Latinos in the US is much brighter than
what has been up until now because new opportunities
will come to them. It is already happening. I mean, just think of the idea that we have a Latino justice
of the Supreme Court. Just think of the idea
that when President Obama addressed the State of the Union
Address, who responded him? A Latino from the Republican
party, Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida. And now the Republicans
are thinking to put a Latino on the electoral ticket in 2016 to compete with the Democratic party. So the Latinos are really moving up there. They’re being considered
an important sector in US. But I insist, in order
to really make a mark and really to move on as a community, as families, as
individuals, as communities, the key to success is education. Back in our countries
also the main target, the main objective, is how
can we improve education. Because as I’ve said in my remarks, we have nowadays improved
access to education. In the Dominican Republic,
there’s 99% access to education. The problem is not access anymore. The problem is the quality of education. Then it has to do with
teacher training programs, the use of new technologies, the idea of learning a new language, of becoming digital literate, of having a global outlook, because nowadays you have to be, you need to have a global outlook. It’s not only your country,
because you will be interacting with different parts of the world. Doing it with limited resources, as we have had in Latin America,
makes it more difficult. But if we have a Latino diaspora, that it is interacting with
our respective countries, that makes it easier. I come to Yale, I talk to
a group of students here, and everybody is excited
on the possibility of connecting with students
from the Dominican Republic in different exchange programs. Now, can you imagine a student from (speaks foreign language) coming for a seminar or
workshop at Yale University? This is a major revolution for him. He will connect with
professors, new reading lists, students that will open up your minds with new ways of thinking. So when they go back, they
go back with new tools, new ways of thinking, new ways of doing. They’ll revolutionize things. This is why I think the best
way to really make an impact in terms of economic development is through exchange, exchange of ideas. You never know exactly
how you touch a person, how you change a person’s lives, just by the sole fact of
exchanging ideas and opinions. So I believe in that,
in by having you here, the Dominican Students Association, and the Latinos Association, there’s a great wealth of
opportunities for exchange and really continuing this
path of social transformation in our countries in Latin America and the Latino community here in the US. – [Jeff] Mr. President, thank you. – Thank you. (audience applauding) – Thank you for coming today. I think maybe the
president will be able to shake a few hands here for a few minutes, but then we have to get
him to another place. So good evening, good luck,
enjoy the warm weather. He brought it in from Santo Domingo. (audience laughing) (audience applauding)